Effectively Managing Print and Distribution of Marketing Collateral Material

Enterprise print management has emerged as a proven approach for large corporations to reduce costs, improve efficiency and workflow, and allow better utilization of internal resources.

Many of the worldwide organizations that offer print management services also focus on other areas such as; process improvement, document workflow, mobility, and end user productivity. They offer their services under the umbrella of Marketing Execution Services or Enterprise Content Management.

For active Marketing organizations that are creating and providing materials to sales and distribution channels or using direct mail programs to reach their clients, a nimbler solution may be more appropriate.

What to look for in a Print Management Vendor

All print management vendors try to focus on simplifying processes, improving productivity, and reducing costs, but that does not mean they are all equal.

As vendors evolve and organizations increase their use of them, it is important that the vendor can demonstrate flexibility and credibility and deliver as promised. Consider following the criteria below when choosing a print management vendor.

  • Scope of Services to Match Your Needs. Your organization may be using various printing solutions in order to achieve the creative results that you are looking for.  Look for a vendor with a broad portfolio of solutions that can deliver all or most of what you need. The more they keep under their own roof, the better.
  • Strong customer support. A print management vendor’s solution is only as good as its customer support is. Without a flexible, reliable and responsive support team, any issue can cause a ripple effect within an organization’s environment.
  • Strong focus on improving performance. A leading print solution vendor should understand their customer’s business and can advise them on unique solutions that can be deployed to improve business efficiency, workflow and reduce costs.
  • Flexibility. A leading print solution vendor offers flexible services that can adapt and accommodate unique requirements. Flexible pricing models and financial options are also key to allow for changing needs.
  • Service Commitments. Print management vendors should not only be able to properly inform and educate you on their services, but they must also be able to deliver on their promises. What guarantees have they made, and do they have a track record of meeting those guarantees or eliminating those issues.

What is Vendor Managed Inventory

An integral part of a Print Management Solution is the management of your inventory, often referred to as Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI).

The goal of VMI is to provide a mutually beneficial relationship where both sides, customer and supplier, will be able to smoothly and accurately control the availability and flow of goods.

In the VMI process, the Print Management Vendor shares the responsibility of inventory planning for their customers. Instead of the customer reordering when its supply has been exhausted, the Vendor can be responsible for replenishing and stocking the customer when inventory drops to pre-determined levels. 

Within the printing industry, VMI solutions incorporate the stocking of printed marketing or sales materials ideally in the same place they are produced and distributed in order to optimize a customer’s supply chain and turnaround time.

Customers will reduce/eliminate stock outs because they will not have to reorder goods at the last minute without knowing whether the supplier can restock without interrupting the customer’s operations.

A key component and what ties together an effective Print Management and VMI Solution is an effective web interface. Whether the materials are intended for your employees, sales force, distribution channels, partners or clients a Web portal solution provides a simple way for ordering, managing, tracking and replenishing your inventory. Web Portals are typically custom designed for your brand with an integrated storefront, user-friendly interface and are scalable to meet the needs of your organization. Accessibility to your printed materials that are in stock and available to your users is simplified. Custom set order limits and permission-based access along with robust reporting, are essential.

Ultimately, it is up to you to test and find the right print management vendor for your organization. Ideally you’ll find a high quality, flexible and reliable printer with the capacity to produce and manage your inventory and provide you the proper tools to facilitate the management and distribution of your inventory  By at least ensuring a print management vendor has the above key characteristics, you can make better-informed choices to maximize your program’s chance of success.