On-Demand (printing, CD, DVD and other goodies)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Software use in on-demand DVD, CD, printing materials production

Can on-demand ordering of DVD, CD, printing materials be done using old methods, such as phone, fax or regular e-mail? Experience shows, it does not work very well.

On demand production assumes frequent orders (on a daily or weekly basis) of materials that are updated often. Materials is usually ordered in small quantities, and often needs to be shipped to several different addresses. Without software that streamlines the process sooner or later several company employees will place the same order, other order will fall through the cracks, incorrect version of the document will be printed (when document is updated
often and each new version is e-mailed to the printer, in a couple of days nobody will know what the latest and correct version is), documents will be shipped to incorrect locations, etc., etc.

So a good software system is very essential to the process, and at least it needs to include ability to manage documents, upload and replace files, preview documents for which order is being placed, ability to place orders, track orders, review order history. There are many other useful features that on demand production software may have - many of them can be specific to the company's way of doing business.

Friday, May 06, 2005

On demand production - when it works and when it does not.

There are many cases where on-demand production works really well and some when it doesn't.

Some examples where on-demand works best:

- Software companies do not need to order / stock or produce themselves manuals and CD -- they can get them shipped to the clients when the software is ordered. Each shipment will be produced

with the latest bug fixes and updates.

- Distance education institutions outsource material production, fulfillment and related technical support -- they don't need to be concerned with guesstimating number of students that would register for a specific course, ordering printed materials and media from different companies, fulfillment and technical support.

- Knowledge consultants - sell books and CDs / DVDs without investing anything in inventory, and are able to adjust all materials with the new developments in the field.

There are still situations where traditional long run works still better, for example you want to distribute 100000 copies at once :-)

And finally, if you just wrote new "War And Peace" (size-wise) and plan to sell it on your web site for $9.99, I have a bad news for you -- production cost will be prohibitive given your sale price.

Just my $0.02 triggered by today's conversations with clients, possible clients and impossible clients :-)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

US Mail vs. FedEx

A call from a prospect today:
(Prospect): We are interested in CD and DVD on-demand production
Great, that's what we do

[ Discussion of details follows]

(Prospect): So, if you receive an order for a DVD by 11 a.m., you produce it the same day, then put it in the envelope, stick a $0.37 stamp on it and drop it in the mail?
In my experience using mail for fulfillment is the best way to poison relationship between us.
(Prospect): ????
(Me): What happens if customer calls you and says he never received anything?

(Prospect): I guess we will have to re-send the DVD...
Who picks the tab for duplicate production?
(Prospect): You can send by registered mail.
But then the price would be significantly higher than $0.37 plus I would have to send an employee to the post office to spend time standing in line. On the other hand, we have daily FedEx pickup na dcan ship any way you want it - from Priority Overnight to Ground. All in all it will be not much more expensive (in some cases even cheaper) for you and we will always know when the package was delivered, where it was delivered to and who signed for it.No room for doubts (i.e. "Did they really made that DVD and send it out?")
(Prospect): I didn't think about it this way.

Side note: do you remember, it was time (about 1998-99?) when Amazon tried sending books to customers by mail? Do you remember how long it lasted? Three or four months, if not less. Then they switched back to FedEx. And since I am shipping a lot every day I know exactly why :-)

Monday, May 02, 2005

We are not alone, are we?

A few days ago got contacted by a prospect from Hong Kong: interested in on-demand books + enclosed DVD. Nothing out of this world -- we have several overseas clients who order from us for distribution to their US customers. Works much better than shipping books, manuals, CDs or DVDs from Australia, for example, both in terms of speed and price. Today, however it turned out that this prospect wants us to ship to their customers in Hong Kong and SE Asia.... Don't they have on-demand production there? I always hear that "The Asian Tigers" are very technologically advanced, so I would expect on-demand DVDs shouldn't be a big deal there (here we do this every day :-) Huh?