Direct Response Fulfillment is unique from other distribution channels that you may have experience with. If you’re a first-timer to Direct Response, we would recommend that you seek support from partners with significant expertise in the industry. If you currently work with providers outside of Direct Response, think twice before assuming they have the optimal tool set to support this highly nuanced playing field.
For a good overview, take a look at the following 8 ways that Direct Response is different:
Volume Spikes – Time of year, days of the week, and cost of media are all factors for when and how much media you should run; which then affects the fulfillment demand. For some Direct Response marketers, a weekend will generate as many orders to fill on Monday as the rest of the week combined! Further complicating matters, testing of variations to the creative can produce positive or negative results to volume. Not all order fulfillment providers have the ability to flex up and down effectively, which can result in delays and cost inefficiencies that ultimately cost the marketer money.
Frequent Changes – Direct Response Marketers change plans quickly to maximize their opportunities for cost efficient media, available product inventory, new offer configurations and even new pricing. Only fulfillment centers with proven experience handling these situations will ensure that your needs are actually met. Beware of promises that are not backed up by solid experience.
Information Overload – Direct Response Marketers require and demand information in a timely fashion. And when we say information, we mean a LOT of information. Spend time reviewing the standardized reporting offered by the fulfillment provider. Do these reports meet your needs? Can you have 24/7 access? What types of report customization do you need? Is it possible with the fulfillment provider you are dealing with? Direct Reponse fulfillment operators have robust reporting systems that are likely to meet your needs.
Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance – Protection and privacy of data are essential. Direct Response fulfillment providers already offer PCI compliant systems. A fulfillment center that does not cater to Direct Response may not have the proper certifications for your protection.
Continuity and Installments – Many Direct Response campaigns run on a continuity model in which successive waves of product are shipped or the billing will be in multiple stages. These programs are inherently more complicated than one might think. A regular fulfillment operator without experience in Direct Response may feel that they can deliver this, but the reality is very different.
Customer Care – Direct Response campaigns typically require more customer service than other business models. Direct Response creates many impulse purchases. The consumer also does not have the opportunity to touch the product before purchasing. Therefore, Direct Response orders are subject to more buyers’ remorse, cancellations and returns. A fulfillment provider who also offers customer service functions provides an integrated solution to fit your specific needs.
Returns and Refurbishment – Returns occur at a higher rate in Direct Response campaigns. Many fulfillment centers are not set up to take returns (or at least the volume of returns that could occur). The fulfillment center must be able to handle large numbers of returns, and also rework and reprocess whatever is possible in order to save you money.
Retail – Shipments to retail are an increasing function of the Direct Response fulfillment center. More and more campaigns work their way into the retail space. The requirements for retail shipping are very complicated and require experience. Without this, onerous fines can be imposed by the retailers.
In summary, you should always look for experience in the channel of business that you are operating within. Fulfillment centers that know how to work Direct Response campaigns, and are integrated with customer service and order management functions are definitely the ones that will be essential to a successful campaign. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding your Direct Response fulfillment needs. We are always here to help!