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Marketing Supply Chain Management 101

How to Minimize Risk and Maximize Efficiency Across Your Entire Marketing Supply Chain

Managing a marketing supply chain is a complex balancing act. Without the right tools in place, all the tasks involved with creating, printing, and distributing marketing materials can steal valuable time and resources away from your core responsibilities and leave the door wide open for risks.

More than ever, those responsible for keeping a well-oiled marketing supply chain are streamlining their operations with a centralized point of contact that manages each step of the process faster and more effectively.

If you’re struggling with inefficiencies in your marketing supply chain, this guide is for you. We’ve broken down the three components of a typical marketing supply chain with tips and solutions for efficient management specific to each.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is Marketing Supply Chain Management?

Marketing supply chain management is the process of minimizing risks and maximizing efficiency in creating, producing, and distributing marketing materials. Without good supply chain management, every link becomes more cumbersome, risk-prone, and otherwise more costly than it could be in terms of the time and resources it demands.

Here are just a few examples of how the costs of an under-managed marketing supply chain crop up:

  • Too many people with too little knowledge or experience are tasked with creating and ordering materials. The result? Inevitable errors mean expensive delays and re-work.
  • Inventory shortages, overstocks, and delays in fulfillment lead to wasted budget for warehousing and lost sales.
  • Marketers and procurement professionals stuck using unsophisticated, decentralized systems are less productive in their main responsibilities because they have to juggle too many operational and administrative tasks.
  • Without a system of control, rogue ordering can threaten brand integrity and raise costs due to unapproved or low-quality materials making their way to customers.

The value of marketing supply chain management for risk mitigation is pretty straightforward: the more you see and control and the fewer moving parts involved, the less that can go wrong.

What’s less understood are all the opportunities for greater efficiency that a management solution can provide. In short, those who take control of their supply chains get their time back. They can devote themselves to their core responsibilities and spend less time chasing management tasks and switching between disconnected systems.

They can also protect their budget by utilizing tools that streamline each link in the chain. Materials can be printed in exact amounts and delivered when they’re needed. End-users can customize and order their own approved marketing materials. Vendors can be consolidated. These are just a few of the ways a marketing supply chain management system lets you make better use of your time and budget.

Let’s dive into how these management tools solve problems and close efficiency gaps at each stage in the marketing supply chain.

Order Management

Without an effective management system, creating and ordering materials can involve a ton of manual work. Between designing and developing content, reviewing, revising, and approving materials, and finally placing and tracking orders, the operational tasks alone can seem like a full-time job.

The pain of poor management only gets worse the more sophisticated campaigns become. Personalizing or localizing marketing materials can mean hours of extra work and more headaches for everyone involved.

Today, this entire process has been streamlined through the single-source marketing supply chain management platform. These tools integrate product libraries, custom and variable data templates, digital asset management, asset transferring/downloading, and web-to-print purchasing into one system. The cost savings in time and resources are like night and day compared to the endlessly exhausting decentralized way of doing things.

Platforms like U.Connect make it incredibly easy for you or an end-user to grab a template, localize it, send it for approval, and get it ordered when and where it’s needed.

How OneTouchPoint Can Help

OneTouchPoint’s U.Connect solution is an easy-to-use, web-based ordering and fulfillment system that allows you to electronically manage, order, and track marketing collateral items in real time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With U-Connect, the web-based ordering, fulfillment, and brand hub, manage your marketing assets in real-time—from a single platform. Learn more.

Production

Production typically breaks down into three core activities: printing, packaging, and finishing. Poor management here often reveals itself as a few frustrating budget-killers:

  • Expensive overruns due to being “stuck” with minimum order requirements
  • Over ordering leads increased warehousing for unused pices and ultimately stock obsolescence
  • Multiple vendors relationships for achieving production needs
  • Time-consuming ordering processes

When paired with a capable printer with the geographic reach you need, a management solution can make overruns a thing of the past. Print-on-demand, for example, enables you and your end-users to order precisely what you need, where and when you need it without having to devote budget to overcome frustrating logistical hurdles and hand-offs between multiple vendors. Ordering doesn’t mean switching to another system—it’s done right from the same platform you used to manage and customize, localize and/or personalize the materials.

For larger campaigns that require managing a stock of inventory, there’s a huge opportunity to consolidate your vendors by partnering with one that combines printing and national scale to cut down on costs and turn around time.

How OneTouchPoint Can Help

From design control, format, color, paper, and quantity, to full-scale technology solutions that drive and manage your entire print program, we’ll deliver solutions that provide maximum efficiency in product output, timing and cost. Design the perfect packaging for your products and trust us to bring your designs to life. We have all of the die cutters, folders, stitchers, gluers and binders needed to create your packaging masterpiece. Once your piece is printed, we provide comprehensive finishing and binding services to create sturdy, bound print products.

We offer large-scale offset printing, grand-format production, and print-on-demand services at our print facilities across the country. We handle materials brokerage, production, and even kitting and assembly—saving costs and delivering high-quality collateral. Learn more.

Distribution

For many organizations, distribution is the most complex and expensive link in the marketing supply chain. Mailing, fulfillment, warehousing and kitting each bring unique challenges and complexities. Old assumptions about what’s possible and what’s not lead to many unnecessary expenses that recklessly get thrown into the COGS category when, with the right tool, they can be avoided altogether.

The management opportunities here lie mostly in tracking, logistics, and your vendors themselves. Without a way to monitor inventory levels and develop a usage history, managing fulfillment to control your costs is incredibly difficult and time-consuming. This is one area where simply having the right end-to-end technology in place, a vendor with experience and expertise, and a partner who rolls this technology directly into their print and distribution capabilities, can reduce costs and make your budget go much further.

In terms of logistics, managing your supply chain responsibly again means finding the kind of partner we just described: one that matches your needs with a physical presence. The closer you can print, fulfill, and distribute your marketing materials to where they need to go, the more budget you can reinvest into bigger and better campaigns.

How OneTouchPoint Can Help

Our vendor-managed inventory services help customers keep track not only of how much stock they have on hand but of how much is being ordered and used—from your own facilities or from our warehouses across the country.

This helps influence production quantities and automated reorders, so you can maintain minimum inventory levels based on usage, helping you eliminate waste and keep warehousing costs to a minimum. Additionally, OneTouchPoint manages seven fulfillment warehouses—comprising 200,000 square feet of storage space—across the country, where we handle picking and packing, bulk receiving and quality verification. Learn more.

Contact us today or request a project quote to learn how OneTouchPoint can help your organization streamline marketing supply chain management. We can augment your internal marketing supply chain operations by employing all of these tools and best practices, or manage your entire marketing supply chain ourselves through onsite contracting—saving your organization significant time and money on hiring, onboarding and employee-related overhead.