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Offering Fulfillment Services--Getting Your Fill

October 2005
by chris bauer

Managing Editor

While ancillary services in general are often pointed to as the savior of the commercial printing industry, fulfillment services specifically have received more fanfare than some of the other value-added capabilities. In speaking to printers that offer fulfillment services and to experts on the subject, it's easy to see why the two go hand-in-hand.

"Printers are being asked by their customers to start fulfillment operations to support the client's marketing operation," observes Tom Quinn, director of fulfillment services for the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association (MFSA), noting that 88 percent of printers that participated in a recent NAPL/MFSA survey stated this as their primary reason for establishing a fulfillment operation.

"This, of course, makes sense because the printer has serviced the client for many years and has developed a level of trust with marketing departments serviced," Quinn continues. "These same marketing departments have been required to reduce their manpower and are doing more with less."

A Logical Fit

At the same time, Quinn acknowledges that time-to-market has been drastically reduced for these same customer's jobs. Therefore, it makes good sense to ask printers to offer more services—like mailing and fulfillment.

The addition of these services accomplishes two goals for the print buyer—both time-to-market and a reduction in the number of vendors needed. This is the old "one-stop shopping" model, Quinn notes—a model that will serve the printer and customer well for the foreseeable future.

"We are finding that most associations and publishers don't have storage facilities, nor do they have the staff to process orders," advises Jane Quellmalz Carey, president and CEO of Boyd Printing in Albany, NY, which has been providing fulfillment services since 1973. "We also take care of the postal requirements and regulations. They want to streamline their operations by not having to deal with many vendors."

Elaine Beitler, senior vice president and general manager of Bowne Enterprise Solutions, agrees, stating that fulfillment services reinforce the strategic partnership between client and printer. By coupling the company's integrated fulfillment solutions with its digital processing and imaging capabilities, Bowne serves as a single resource, eliminating the need for clients to seek multiple vendors for a project.

"We opened our consolidated digital print/fulfillment center in 2002 to accommodate clients with the migration from traditional pick-pack to merge with customized and personalized digital printing and fulfillment," Beitler explains. "Prior to 2002, fulfillment was embedded in our offerings throughout our many locations across the U.S. until we co-located our dedicated digital print and fulfillment under one roof."

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