Case Study: Fulfillment Services

How The Aldo Leopold Foundation increased calendar sales by 6x with help from Thysse’s fulfillment services

The Client: The Aldo Leopold Foundation 

The famed Leopold Shack. Baraboo, WI. Photo credit:

One of the most influential conservationists of the 20th century, Aldo Leopold is considered a founding father of modern wildlife ecology. Leopold is best known for his most renowned work, A Sand County Almanac, a book detailing his observations while restoring a plot of worn-out farmland along the Wisconsin River.

Leopold’s eloquent documentation of his restoration would lay the foundation for key land ethics and stewardship practices still widely referenced today. Founded in 1982 by his wife and children, The Aldo Leopold Foundation (ALF) is a nonprofit that works to “inspire an ethical relationship between people and nature through Leopold’s legacy”.

The Project: The Annual Phenology Calendar Fundraiser

The Aldo Leopold Foundation’s 2022 Phenology Calendar. Photo credit:

Every fall, the nonprofit releases a unique fundraising calendar to build support and awareness for its mission. The calendar features local wildlife photography, and details notable seasonal changes in the ecosystem as they occur throughout the year – a branch of study called phenology. The calendar is also packaged with a custom envelope and a one-page glossy insert introducing the calendar and outlining the foundation’s mission.

The phenology calendar encourages the public to get outdoors and promotes the observation of the intricacies of the natural environment around them. It’s a significant source of income for the foundation and a consistent top seller in the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center’s bookstore. The calendar also serves as an extra touchpoint around the holidays to show appreciation for the foundation’s top donors.  

Why Thysse? Customer service and quality

Though the calendars had been part of the foundation’s fundraising efforts since 2005, it wasn’t until 2017 that ALF began handling all aspects of the calendar’s design and content curation in-house. The shift led the company to seek out a new partner to manage the printing of their calendars.

As an environmentally-conscious nonprofit, ALF needed a local printer sensitive to their desired quality and budget. They also required timely, detail-oriented customer service to ensure reliable turnaround and quality control that could guarantee a professional final product every time. Luckily, Thysse was the perfect match on all accounts.

The Challenge: Efficiently produce, store, package, and mail calendars to thousands nationwide with limited staff

Prior to 2020, the packaging and mailing of calendar orders were handled in-house by a limited-term employee. However, the arrival of the pandemic introduced three significant changes:

1. 2020 was the first year ALF tested out a pre-sale campaign for its calendars. It turned out to be a raging success, but more on that in a moment.

2. People were going outside in droves, buying up all available stock of outdoor gear and finding renewed interest in ALF programs.

3. Smaller staff, larger distribution. There were few employees on-site, but more orders to manage than ever.

With no one in the office to handle the packaging and shipment of the calendars, how would ALF get the calendars to those who purchased them?

The Solution: Thysse’s fulfillment services

Fulfillment storage shelving at THysse

Starting in October of 2020, the Foundation began incorporating a month of pre-sales campaigning into its marketing strategy. This would provide a more accurate count of calendars to have produced upfront, and allow ALF to submit larger orders to Thysse to help reduce overall production cost.

In addition to printing ALF’s bulk orders, Thysse also began managing the storage and fulfillment of calendar orders in our 8,750-square-foot fulfillment and pick-and-pack assembly area. This included:

1. Production: Every calendar, insert, and envelope was made right here at our facility.

2. Assembly: We sorted and stuffed the components in their envelopes.

3. Distribution: Thysse mailed to ALF’s list of pre-order recipients.

Previous campaign performance informed storage needs; Thysse was there to offer warehousing as well. These stored quantities would be used to fulfill weekly calendar orders placed after the presale period. Thysse also used Informed Delivery® with the mailings to generate added excitement for subscribers to anticipate when the new calendars were arriving in the mail.

The Outcome: Decreased cost and increased efficiency

Knowing the presale quantity and repeat customers, ALF was able to produce at a higher initial volume, reducing their calendar production cost, while improving their overall margin. The calendars were mailed in bulk, which allowed Thysse to optimize the mailings for USPS automation requirements – a process that allows the post office to process mailings more efficiently, resulting in significant postage discounts.

By partnering with Thysse to manage all storage, fulfillment, and mailing aspects of the project, the amount of time ALF staff spent juggling order fulfillment logistics and communicating with vendors was greatly reduced. This allowed staff to maintain their focus on more essential job duties – like raising awareness of ALF’s mission, fostering community engagement, and expanding public education efforts.

Thysse managed all production and order fulfillment processes so efficiently that the Foundation continued to utilize Thysse’s full grouping of services long after onsite staffing returned to normal. From year one of Thysse’s involvement to 2022, ALF’s total annual calendar sales increased by about six times!

Thysse is proud to play a role in helping nonprofits like The Aldo Leopold Foundation succeed.

Landowner Education and Services Associate, Emily Oyos, says, “The calendars are a great way for us to continue Leopold’s legacy of phenology record keeping. It encourages people to get out in nature, noticing and growing an appreciation for the little things happening around them.” 

When ALF’s annual calendar sales are successful, it does more than just raise important funds for the foundation. It helps foster a sense of moral responsibility to the community, the land, and strengthens the important relationship between them. 

For more information about The Aldo Leopold Foundation, read more about their mission here. For more on fulfillment services, drop us a line, or head to our fulfillment services page to explore more on your own.

Online Storefront Portals Unpacked

What is an online Storefront, and how can it transform the way you manage your printed marketing materials?

Your company’s printed assets, in the eye of the beholder, are a direct reflection of the quality of its services. That’s why marketing materials should be eye-catching, in-sync with your company’s brand, and, of course, informationally-accurate. Yet, if you have multiple office locations and lines of business – all with slightly different needs at different times – procuring your printed assets can spiral into a never-ending game of phone tag.

If the above sounds familiar, then you’ve got room for improvement in your ordering workflows. The solution? An online Storefront to alleviate some of the pain points in the process. What’s more, it could also free you up to better leverage the power of your printed assets – a winning combination.

But what is Storefront, and how is it right for your business? 

In a metaphorical sense, Storefront is the ever-elusive ‘Easy’ button you’ve been searching for to manage your company’s printed assets. Technically speaking, it’s an inventory management and print on-demand tool that helps you deliver customized marketing materials across all channels of your business. From one centralized online portal, Storefront allows you to track inventory and place orders anytime, from anywhere, and ship to your various office locations. That means you can order items like: 

  • Business stationary (business cards, envelopes, forms) at midnight from your bathtub
  • Marketing materials (brochures, folders, postcards) from the couch (PJs optional)
  • Posters and banners (POP and trade show displays) from your airport gate – just don’t miss your flight!
  • Promotional items (apparel, pens and water bottles) while you peruse the zoo. Grrrr.

Managing your printed assets via Storefront comes with a few other perks too. For one, it allows you to significantly reduce (or cut out completely) back and forth communication with your printer. Storefront can also reduce your overall production and storage costs, decrease necessary lead times, and provide quicker turnaround. 

Each Storefront is custom-built to include your company’s branding and customized user access settings. Aside from visual and security configurations, the actual items and fulfillment options available on your Storefront catalog can vary greatly. Knowing your options, and the unique benefits of each, will help steer you in the right direction during the initial set up. 

What kinds of orders can Storefront handle?

The items in your Storefront catalog typically fall into one of four categories – although all four can be (and often are) combined in a single portal. 

1. Fulfillment-Based Orders for Savings and Speed 

Fulfillment-based orders include pre-produced items sourced from stored inventory in Thysse’s warehouse. This category has a myriad of benefits for businesses including shorter turnarounds (because the items are produced ahead of time), and cost savings (because producing larger quantities in advance incurs bulk printing discounts). Additionally, utilizing your printer’s warehouse for storage frees up valuable office space, which typically comes with a premium price tag – something we explore in detail here.  

For instance, say you’re a business that regularly gives out branded promo gear to ‘woo’ new hires or clients. If the trend continues in 2022, promo gear requires significant lead times thanks to nationwide shipping debacles and supply chain issues. With fulfillment-based Storefront orders, branded water bottles, pens, mugs and notebooks can be produced in bulk ahead of time, and stored on site to be at-the-ready when you need them. 

2. Print On-Demand Orders for Reduced Obsolete Inventory 

Unlike fulfillment-based orders where items are pre-produced, on-demand orders involve items that are produced after an order is placed. While these orders may have longer turnarounds and require more lead time, on-demand orders interest businesses who don’t want to risk the possibility of ending up with obsolete inventory

Companies who anticipate a rebrand in the near future, for example, or those who are just plain old uncertain of the quantities of an item they might need, may prefer the on-demand print option. Keep in mind that some printed items also don’t store well long-term – such as envelopes – which can lose their adhesive quality over long periods in storage.  

3. Kitted Orders for Unrivaled Efficiency 

This category involves multiple printed items that are assembled together, or ‘kitted’, and shipped as a bundle. Individual items included in the kits can be printed on-demand, fulfilled from stored inventory, or a combination of both depending on your needs. Kits are listed as a single item on your portal for efficiency.

An insurance company is a great example of a business that might benefit from having kitted order options on their Storefront. Each new client receives the same welcome folder that includes individual items like brochures, provider options, and a summary of benefits. Thysse can print on-demand (or fulfill from stored inventory) each of the individual printed pieces, order them neatly in pre-produced folders, and ship them out in a tidy bundle with little more than a click.

4. Direct Mail Orders for Click and Ship Ease 

Direct mail storefront items allow you print and ship customized mail pieces to a specified list of recipients. Choose from preloaded templates/artwork for your piece, attach a mail list, and view postage costs before adding your order to the cart. Thysse can even perform list maintenance before finalizing your order to ensure you only pay for the necessary quantities.  

Take a lawn care company, for example. The user can pull up their online portal, select a postcard template, choose from snow plow artwork or lawn mower artwork, attach the desired list of recipients, select the quantity, add to cart, and voila! Custom direct mailers on doorsteps – without so much as leaving the desk

If you’ve made it this far – congrats! However, if you like what you see but still have a few questions about how this whole Storefront concept fits in with your business’s needs, that’s where we come in. Thysse helps our clients work through Storefront setups and configurations every day, and we’re happy to answer any questions regarding different Storefront options, set up, or any others that come to mind. If you’re more the research-on-your-own type, swing on over to the additional resources here. If you’re really hoping to see our Technical Services Director nerd out for 30 minutes, you can always give us a shout to schedule a live Storefront demo.

Off-Kilter Kit Concepts for Your Next Event

Kit ‘Er Done – Kit-Packing done right. 

From the scheduled to the unexpected, partnering with Thysse on your next custom kitted project can create an unforgettable experience.

In the final throes of the 2020 stay-at-home order, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) set Thysse loose on a project that posed both a creative and logistical challenge: Design and ship 1,500 “Work From Home Kits” for a virtual conference to connect with attendees outside the digital realm. The box design and its contents would build excitement around the event, keep the mission top of mind, and give a nod to event sponsors.  

Rolling out a project of this scale is no small feat – but the real clincher? CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) would take place almost a year into the pandemic. After many months of Zoom calls, virtual museum tours and a shameful number of Tiger King episodes, audiences were running out of steam on screen time. The box needed to make attendees feel like they were part of an experience – and the final product didn’t disappoint. Conference attendees reported feeling valued, excited and pleasantly-surprised as the custom, colorfully- printed boxes began to show up on their doorsteps.  

While in-person pandemic restrictions have thankfully loosened in most states, our work with CUNA got us pondering the near-limitless potential for events both in and out of virtual channels. Let’s just say our brainstorming got a little out there, but sometimes thinking of the wackiest ideas can lead the way to a uniquely wonderful execution. 

While you start wondering about ways to wow your audiences, enjoy the finalists on our short list of off-kilter kits: 

The ‘Brew Buddy’ Kit

Since we know there are really only two kinds of people in the Midwest, those who know a lot about beer and those who want to know more about beer, let’s hop to it first with a kit whose potential could be tapped at any time. Whether you’re a local brewery owner rolling out a new flavor or an event planner with a penchant for planning parties that include a beer tent, this custom caddy could easily drive and improve brand awareness. Pitcher it now: Thysse can source, design and distribute sampling kits to accompany your best brews with merch such as:

  • Wooden tasting flight trays (complete with nifty erasable chalkboard labels)
  • Beer-tasting guide books outlining pour techniques and aroma/taste profiles 
  • Pub glasses or snifters to suit every taste from Belgians to Stouts
  • Branded bottle opener/corkscrew combos for a one-pop-top-shop
  • Brew-branded coasters to relinquish rings 
  • For the die-hard hops fans, throw in Electrolyte tablets & sunglasses, after a day of drinking, they’ll love your brand all the more for the additions

‘2nd Time’s the Charm’ Kit

Fair warning, this one goes to a dark place pretty quick. Bear with us, we did say we’re trying to get weird to get the juices flowing. Imagine your law office specializes in divorce proceedings. It’s safe to assume that the majority of your clients are less than thrilled to walk through your doors to discuss the impending dissolution of dreams and their life partnerships. Yet… think for a moment how uplifting it would be for your clients to receive a goofy gift box on such a downer of an occasion. We’re picturing a package prepared with:  

  • Branded wine keys for the first celebratory nights of freedom
  • A sampling of artisan chocolates for dinner a delicious snack 
  • Soothing bath salts to drown particularly pesky memories 
  • ‘Legal Steps to Freedom’ checklists to guide clients through the process 
  • Finally, throw in branded tissues for… allergies and other ailments

Employee ‘Welcome Back, NOW GET TO WORK!’ Kit 

Thanks to an onset of new job openings, targeted recruiting efforts and a wave of mobility-craving millennials, employees these days have options – and they know it! Employee appreciation is an increasingly important focus for companies large and small aiming to retain (and recruit) top-notch talent, and let’s face it, the return to the office for many of your employees will be a mighty shift from the sweatpants-wearing luxuries of yesteryear. What better way to ease the transition than with a quirky ‘welcome back’ kit to get everyone back on the same page? ‘Woo’ returning employees with a kit that includes: 

  • Mini Nerf® guns and a round of darts for a cubicle war of epic proportions
  • Hair salon gift cards to get those unruly locks 9-5 ready [insert Chewbacca vocalizations] 
  • A bag of local gourmet coffee to power through morning rush hour
  • A printed ‘welcome back’ message to frame a united front 
  • Stress balls in the shape of a random quirky animal – we prefer gorillas, but that’s just us

‘Cutting Edge DIY-er’ Kit

You don’t have to be the sharpest crayon in the toolbox to know how to paint furniture or raise a pole shed, but having the right tools of the trade can certainly make you look like one! If you’re an event planner tasked with putting together a trade show for the tool and hardware industry, why not put together a custom box to show off some handy new innovations in the industry, inspire attendees to tackle a new project, and give your event sponsors a shout out? Need some ideas? We’ve got the fix!

  • A pocket-sized mini leveler to make sure that surface is flat-out perfect
  • A flashlight with a bendable mount to light up those hard to reach corners 
  • Bandaids – for those occasional, almost-lost-a-finger-but-didn’t, moments. 
  • A handy new multi-tool for the jill or jacks of all trades
  • Mini retractable measuring tape keychain to measure twice and cut once!

If you made it this far, it’s safe to say you see where we’re going with all of these. Creating a lasting experience with your brand can be industry-relevant without replicating your competition’s swag bags. Did our list of extremely-specific-yet-highly-unlikely options spur a kit idea you’d like to try? Do you need to keep that project you delegated to the receptionist from turning into an utter kit-tastrophe

We get pretty amped up about putting together custom kits and we’d love to help! Our team of promotional services experts has the know-how, space and resources to create your custom kit from packing and design to shipping, and all the crinkle-paper tornados in between. Drop us a line or check out our promotional services page to learn more.

A Crash Course in Kit Packing

Kit packing 101: Efficiency Meets Impact

Let’s get the first question out of the way, shall we? Just what exactly is kit-packing? We’ll start by un-packing the term itself. In general, kit packing is assembling multiple related items into a single package and shipping them to a list of recipients. Think trade show displays, welcome kits, signage resets, benefits packages, instructional materials and the like. 

Because picking, packing, and shipping products separately takes time (and money), packing certain items together streamlines processes and reduces costs related to storage, shipping and inventory management.

Thysse understands the literal and logistical hoops you’re jumping through when working with multiple production vendors and office locations and how those can be compounded when you needed the items yesterday. We’ve seen the pain in your eyes as you retell the last attempt at employee appreciation gifts which ended with your HR’s “fun committee” in tears as they packaged up dozens of bath bombs while cross-referencing address spreadsheets as the pizza ran out and the Mountain Dew went flat. 

Too specific? Probably, but as usual, you know we get it and we’ve got the fix! 

So what kind of kit makes sense for you? Let’s break it down one step further and consider kits as they pertain to three different categories: Inventory-Managed Kits, On-Demand Printed Kits and Promotional Kits. 


You’ve got employees and locations across the country, all using collateral at alarming but varied rates. How do you ensure the right volumes of business cards, brochures, informational materials, and branded merchandise get to the right place, at the right time? 

Using Thysse’s Storefront platform, it’s easy to manage shipping and inventory with the touch of a button to track store-branded merchandise, marketing materials, business cards, and more in our warehouses – from anywhere. Here’s a quick rundown of the wrongs these kits make oh-so-right:

  • Never utter the words: “Larry, the warehouse is full.” Thysse can produce and store your materials in our 8,000 sq. ft. fulfillment center. 
  • You went trigger-happy trying to cut costs and now you’re up to your eyeballs in out-dated inventory… We help you hone in on your stored-inventory sweet spot. 
  • Night sweats because you forgot to re-up on those legal agreement forms? Rest easy knowing your custom-branded portal is available 24/7. 
  • You know your sales rep. better than your significant other… With Storefront, users can order more materials and monitor inventory levels with the click of a button – no sales rep. required. 
  • Worried that the receptionist you recruited forced to pack your 200 new employee welcome kits is going to have a crinkle paper meltdown and forget to include the contracts? We carefully pick, assemble and package your items into one organized kit and get them where they need to be on time, every time.

Storefront-initiated kits also cut lead times down to just 48 hours, freeing up valuable workspace and reducing obsolete inventory. 


2020 hit the business world hard. As in-person seminars and tradeshows shifted to online events, some got smart about their budget reallocations, shifting dollars toward enhancing the at-home experience for attendees. Yet, even after face-to-face events resumed, the newly-realized impact of promotional kits has event planners coming back for more. Why?

On-Demand Printed Kits allow us to meet the one-off kit demands of customers who don’t necessarily benefit from having pre-produced inventory stored in a warehouse, but still want the consistency, quality, and reliability of having one company handle the project from start to finish.

Got a breakfast seminar next Friday with 26 people? We can print you 26 promo boxes with the name of each attendee for a personalized experience they’ll remember long after the deviled eggs. Not only do our kit-packing services help you cater to every client on an individual level, but they also mean you don’t have to order any more than you need (or hold onto excess inventory!).


Success in any line of business is dependent on strong relationships –  that’s relationships with employees, customers, and prospects you hope to one day turn into customers. When it comes to promotional kits, however, it’s not just sending a gift that makes an impression, it’s what you pick and how you pack the gift that determines its success rate. 

Let’s use a non-profit as an example. You’re a non-profit focused on native bee conservation. You send a kit to potential donors featuring local honey, a packet of wildflower seeds, assorted teas, a branded mug, and a copy of your newsletter. Thysse can source and produce all of these items in-house, significantly reducing your packaging and shipping pain points. 

The real magic, however, happens when your box makes it to the hands of the recipient. Your prospect feels valued, seen and understood. The quality of your brand’s services is reflected in something tangible, useful and downright good looking – if we may be so bold. 

Let us handle the messy stuff so you can concentrate on what you do best – whether it’s clinching that new deal or coming out with a stellar new product. Thysse’s team is ready and waiting to run full support.

Questions about the services mentioned in this article? Contact us today and let us know how we can help!

Fulfillment Services – Demystified.

Thysse's Fulfillment Services area in our new location at 780 Cusick Parkway, Oregon, WI

Has someone ever asked you about your fulfillment service needs, and all you can do is return their words with a blank stare? That’s ok, until 2016 we weren’t dabbling much into it either. We’ve done a few posts on it in the past, giving you compelling listicles about decreasing your carrying costs and benefits of a managed inventory partner. Both are still great reference points from a budget perspective. But we wouldn’t be Thysse if we didn’t start sharing more of the “why” and true value behind the service too.

It started as many of our service expansions have, with a customer need, and Thysse’s desire to [ful]fill it. (See what we did there…) We were working through a project estimate with a valued client and offered up a significant per-piece savings if we could produce at a higher volume. They loved the price break opportunity, but posed the all-important point:

“We just don’t need excess inventory on hand.”

Fair argument to make. We went with our instincts, and led as we always have, with trust in our partnerships and value to our clients. Thysse shared a plan outlining storage for overages, a solid distribution schedule before obsolescence, and hit home the benefits of production at volumes that showed significant savings for our client.

This set of conversations planted the seed for how these services can bring greater value to our partners and we went with it in a pretty big way. We started offering solutions to house brands’ inventory at Thysse, allowing them to take advantage of volume printing and reducing their need for on-site storage. This was so successful, we secured space at an additional facility, the North building (named because it was, well, North of our Netherwood facility), and began offering warehouse and distribution services.

But we didn’t stop there. What started with printed materials for one client quickly morphed into custom approaches and ramped up promotional product offerings as well. This included kit-packing unique combinations of printed forms and collateral, as well as offering storage and shipment of employee onboarding swag for firms with remote workforces.

The success of fulfillment’s value was only amplified with our Storefront portals. This is a customized site for each brand, allowing them flexibility to use the platform for inventory monitoring, print on-demand and customization offerings, distribution, and much more. See a more in-depth explanation of Storefront here, you won’t regret it!

When we relocated all of Thysse to our new campus in July of 2020, Fulfillment services got yet another boost. That move was great news for our staff, who is happy to be in a much better lit location with air conditioning, but it’s also critical for meeting our clients’ needs.

We’ve increased storage capacity by 400%, and now have all operations contributing to filling customer projects in one location. This means more shelves to store our partner’s printed and brand assets, and faster turnaround times from order to out-the-door.

The journey to this offering is continually evolving, and that’s an exciting space to be in. We believe in producing quality prints, signage, graphic applications, and promotional products that reflect your brand’s quality. We also understand that having mounds of beautiful pieces at your locations can become cumbersome without a partner to assist with management and distribution.

Before you begin to resent your assets, let’s talk to see if a fulfillment partnership can benefit your company. After all, we’re committed to being where you go with your brand.

For more updates on our services, monthly drawings, and images of our work, follow us on LinkedinFacebook, and/or Instagram!

Crush Your 40% Carrying Costs by Warehousing Print Inventory With Your Printer

A printer’s warehouse services can significantly reduce your inventory carrying costs.

Using a printer’s warehouse services can significantly reduce your inventory carrying costs. 

Maybe you’ve always stored your print assets on site. But is that really the best use of your space, your staff, or your print spend? 

The inventory tracking company Wasp says, “As a rule of thumb, inventory carrying cost is 25% of a company’s average inventory investment, but when you tally up all the relevant carrying costs, it can run as high as 40% or more.”

Below, we’ll take a look at seven ways that storing your print inventory on site could be hurting your performance and costing you way too much. We’ll then explain how a printer’s warehousing capabilities can change that. 

1. Is your office a giant closet or a place for business?

Reduce expensive square footage for storage

With office space at a premium, you want that space devoted to revenue-generating activities as much as possible. Using expensive square footage for storage can quickly become cost-prohibitive. 

Printers with warehouse capabilities have facilities designed with vertical space and pallet racking systems—infrastructure specifically meant to store print materials efficiently. That’s one big reason why storing your inventory at a printer’s warehouse can be much more economical.  

A company could save significantly using a printer's warehouse.

“Of course the numbers will vary,” says Nick Brevik, Thysse Director of Operations, “but if you consider the square footage costs for office space plus the added expenses that can come with a lease, a company could save significantly using a printer’s warehouse.”

Take advantage of high-volume orders.

2. Could you be ordering a lot more—and saving big?

Take advantage of high-volume orders

A lack of inventory space forces you to order smaller quantities. That means you can’t take full advantage of volume pricing for the assets your users depend on most. 

On the other hand, Brevik says by warehousing at your printer’s facilities, you can order more with an eye to your future needs—and save money. “Imagine ordering 5,000 items per month vs. ordering 60,000 for the year. A customer could easily save at least 50% with volume pricing.”

Volume pricing can help you save at least 50%.

Leveraging volume pricing can work especially well for materials like forms, spec sheets, and marketing collateral that rarely gets changed. In fact, when you’re not limited by your own space capacity, you may be in a better position to use alternative pricing approaches like standardized pricing

This approach reduces the need for time-consuming quote hunts. Instead, your printer analyzes your projected print needs to find opportunities for economy-of-scale pricing. They then turn to their suppliers to buy print materials more cost-effectively. The savings are passed on to you in the form of a value-based, standardized price list.

Do you know what you have?

3. Do you know exactly what you have—and have exactly what you need?

Track what you have with precision

If you store your own print inventory, do you know the exact counts for all of your items? You should. Disorganized storage cages, desks stacked with reams of collateral, shelving that makes it hard to see what you have—these things lead to waste, unpleasant out-of-stock surprises, and costly reprints and rush orders. Meanwhile, what’s going on at your other offices?

By keeping printed items at a single warehouse, you can eliminate poor storage practices and transform your inventory tracking system. “More and more printers,” explains Brevik, “now offer a web-based print portal, or storefront, that gives you 24/7 access to knowing exactly what your assets are in real time.” 

This option can help you control your inventory even when it’s not top of mind for you:  

  • Receive scheduled reports automatically
  • Get alerts for low inventory
  • Set inventory marks that trigger reorders

With web-based inventory tracking, you can understand your usage patterns better as well. That empowers you to gauge your future needs more precisely and plan your budgets more accurately.

It can also help reduce inventory obsolescence, which can be critical. Wasp reports, “The potential for inventory obsolescence is the greatest portion of your inventory risk cost within a range of 6-12% of your carrying cost.”

Do you have an easy ordering system?

4. Do you have an easy, reliable ordering system that makes staff happy?   

Create a seamless ordering process

If you house your print materials on site, how much easier does that make ordering? Your users shouldn’t have to endure a cumbersome or unreliable process where their requests can, for example, get stalled because someone was out of the office.   

With the web-based portal option described in #3 coupled with a printer’s warehousing services, Brevik says you can have more peace of mind about your ordering process. “It doesn’t have to hinge on the responsiveness of one or two people.” 

For example, users can log in to your print portal from anywhere, see thumbnails of available print assets, and easily locate what they want. And with the ability for you to establish pre-approval levels, those users can even order instantly. 

Now your print vendor can pull requests right off the shelf and ship your items within days—potentially even hours. (See more on remedying your shipping challenges below.) 

Leave the work to fulfillment experts.

5. Is packing and shipping really the best use of your staff’s time?  

Let fulfillment experts carry the weight

Storing your own print inventory also puts the shipping and handling burden on you. But that may not be the best use of your staff’s time or (again) your office space. And if you’re addressing the needs for multiple offices, events, and campaigns, the situation becomes even more challenging. 

Packing and shipping are the next logical steps in the relationship with your printer.

If you opt for warehousing materials with a printer, the next logical step is to take advantage of their packing and shipping expertise, says Brevik. 

In fact, look for a printer who provides streamlined fulfillment services. They’ll likely have a dedicated fulfillment area—and staff—to handle even the most complicated multi-piece kit requests. In the process you’ll be able to:

  • Have your staff work on higher value tasks
  • Reduce shipping errors
  • Protect your products better thanks to the know-how of packing pros
  • Save money through your printer’s discounted shipping rates 

According to Wasp, handling costs alone can range from 3-8% of your total carrying costs. Outsourcing duties like those can have a profound effect. For example, this case study describes how one company increased its training productivity 3X by outsourcing their fulfillment tasks.

Control your collateral.

6. Are you making it easy to use the current, correct versions?  

Control your collateral like never before

Whether or not you store your own printed materials, you certainly want staff using the right materials. But if you do store on site, are you sure you’ve gotten rid of all the old brochures? Did you remove those forms that were later found to have mistakes?   

And what about staff in other offices? They may find it easier to go rogue with unapproved material that could potentially hurt your brand. 

When you use a printer’s warehouse capabilities and a web-based ordering and tracking system, your managers can filter content and control available versions. “It’s a great way to make sure that, for example, your 50 locations are all using the materials they really should be,” says Brevik.  

That’s because staff—no matter their location—can conveniently get the current, marketing-approved material from one print source. And a bonus: With a single printer, you can minimize color management issues and maintain a stronger brand. 

7. Just how protected is your print inventory?  

Keep your materials safer

If you’re devoting office space to store printed items, how suited is that space to safely store paper materials? 

You may be exposing your print assets to potential water leaks, damp or humid environments, and situations where materials are more prone to getting bent or damaged in some other way. 

A printer's warehouse keeps materials safe.

A printer’s warehouse does more than store and keep track of materials—it keeps them safe. Brevik points out that a warehouse’s specially-designed shelving systems, smart storage protocol, and climate-controlled environment generally mean your printed products are safer offsite.

And in the unlikely event something does happen to them, you’re not the one who pays for reprints.

Is the warehouse option right for you?

Is the warehouse option right for you? 

“Companies typically don’t jump right into a warehousing program with a printer,” says Brevik.  “They need to build up a level of trust.”

And that’s smart. If you think a warehousing option could help your business, ask your printer if they offer such a service. If they do, you should see if you can visit their facilities. Get a firsthand look at how your materials will be stored and handled. 

Using your printer’s warehouse capabilities may feel like you’re giving up some control. But what you could really be doing is creating value and strengthening a partnership for the long term. 

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Cut Waste, Spend Smarter, Free-up Space: 6 Inventory Management Strategies for Your Print Assets

Management Strategies for Your Print Assets

Improving how you manage your print inventory generates advantages that save you space, time, and money—and can actually help your business operate more successfully. So how do you get to that point? These 6 game-changing inventory management strategies will show you the way.

Before we dive in, take a look at what effective inventory management of your print assets can do for you:

  • Prevent out-of-stock surprises
  • Minimize the need for costly back orders
  • Reduce the time and complexity of the ordering process from multiple locations
  • Have a convenient print-on-demand option for complex and ever-evolving kits
  • Take advantage of lower unit-cost purchasing
  • Optimize your long-term print spend economics

Who can resist that? No one with an eye on growth AND the bottom line. So let’s take a look at the inventory management strategies to make it happen.

1. Warehouse your print assets off site to free up business space and take advantage of economy-of-scale pricing

Businesses that are expanding run into space limitations. And when office space is at a premium, sacrificing business square footage for storage purposes is not a cost-effective move. 

Using square footage for storage is not a cost-effective move.

In addition, you can easily lose track of print inventory if you have disorganized storage cages; office desks stacked with reams of collateral; and shelving systems that make it hard to know exactly what you have.

By storing print and related items at your printer’s facilities, you eliminate these poor storage practices. But the bottom line benefits don’t stop there. 

A lack of inventory space forces you to order smaller quantities. That means a higher unit cost and ultimately lower profit margins. 

Storing inventory off site gives you more room, and allows you to take advantage of economy-of-scale pricing for the high-volume assets your users depend on the most.

Pro tip: If you have storage needs beyond print assets, look for a print vendor who will warehouse and ship other items such as your branded gifts and office supplies, and even the equipment you use for trainings, trade shows, and conferences.

2. Leave the distribution and shipping (i.e., order fulfillment) to experts

Taxing your already-busy admin support, grabbing staff from other departments, hiring expensive temps—there’s a better way to assemble your multi-piece kits and handle your overall print fulfillment needs.

Find a print vendor with a streamlined fulfillment system. You’ll do more than spend smarter on labor costs. By having dedicated fulfillment specialists, you’ll greatly reduce shipping errors and possibly even enjoy discounted shipping rates from major carriers.

3. Plan smarter with 24/7 access to an automated inventory tracking system 

Do you know the exact counts on all of your print assets? You should. 

You should know exact counts of all print assets.

Reliably tracking your inventory can prevent unexpected shortages and keep expensive expedited print jobs to a minimum. 

It can also reveal print asset usage patterns, so you can gauge your future needs more precisely, plan your budgets more accurately, and reduce inventory obsolescence. 

So how can you easily know crucial information like this? A web-based print portal can provide 24/7 access to seeing exactly what your assets are in real time. See more on the advantages of a portal for your inventory management below.

4. Allow users to order anywhere, anytime from a single-source web-based portal

A single-source web-based portal combines document control and convenient ordering, with multiple benefits as a result.

Speed up the ordering process

With an online ordering system, users can log in, see thumbnails of available print assets, and easily locate what they’re looking for. And with the ability for you to establish pre-approval levels, those users can order instantly.

Gain faster print turnarounds

Having materials on hand means that when orders come through, your print vendor can pull those requests right off the shelf and ship your items within days—potentially even hours. (See more on shipping in #2.)

Using a single-source print portal eliminates color management mistakes.

Boost brand consistency

A single-source portal keeps your brand strong and consistent across your print assets. How? When users—no matter their location—are ordering from one print source rather than multiple printers, you can eliminate issues such as color management mistakes that degrade the quality of your brand. 

Keep the correct collateral in circulation

Give managers the ability to filter content and control available versions. This allows you to ensure users are ordering and distributing the current (and correct) assets. 

Make print-on-demand requests easily

Sometimes docs are just too fluid to print in bulk. Give selective portal permissions for users to modify materials on the fly and then make on-demand orders in a snap. 

5. Use features of your single-source web portal to help ensure items remain in stock

Managing your inventory also means taking advantage of features like the following that keep you informed of your stock, even when it’s not top of mind for you:  

  • Receive scheduled reports automatically
  • Get alerts for low inventory
  • Set inventory marks that trigger reorders

6. Integrate smarter long-term spending into inventory management with standardized pricing

You need more than helpful technology. 

You need a print vendor who will dig into the economics of your print spend.

In fact, consider a print vendor who will work with you to develop a standardized pricing list that reflects your projected print needs. With this option, economy-of-scale pricing is just the beginning of the advantages.  

A standardized pricing list is a good idea.

You can stop the time-consuming hunt for multiple quotes and actually price a project yourself. You can also forecast your spend confidently and deliver budget information to management almost immediately.

These six strategies represent more than just print inventory management. They’re an opportunity to transform your print spend, and ensure your print-related decisions ultimately help your business run better. 

If you want to learn more about how Thysse can help you improve your print inventory management, contact us.

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