Engineering your supply chain
I’m extremely pleased to announce that Inspired Thinking Group has been appointed to manage the print procurement of shopping centre manager and owner, intu. We manage all the print for a lot of big companies now, and if it’s not too immodest to say so, we do it rather well.
There’s no magic to it, of course (although employing a team of top-notch print experts is a good starting point), but to mark this new partnership with intu, I thought it might be a good idea to share one or two pointers on how to get the best from your print supply chain.
This is one the biggest bugbears facing marketers today. When you have to produce hundreds of thousands of posters, leaflets and the panoply of POS, the last thing you have time for is selecting the best possible printer for every job.
Instead, the temptation is to fall back on the one or two tried-and-tested suppliers you’ve worked with for years: they know your products after all, and they’ve pushed out the boat on a number of occasions to get the job done, and well… you probably feel a bit disloyal looking at other options.
Loyalty is a good thing. You want good relations with your suppliers. Not only is it good for business, but we’re all human. Much more satisfying to run a successful business and be nice to your suppliers. I’ll return to the topic of loyalty at the end of this blog.
At the same time, one of your favourite printers might be excellent at one kind of work, but not be properly set up for another. Out there, there’s probably another printer who has the exact equipment you need for that specific job, and who can turn it around more quickly, at a higher quality and a better price.
When you’re spending millions on print, even a slight re-engineering of your supply chain can shave a significant slice off your marketing budget. And that’s where we come in.
The first factor in our success is an incredibly well-engineered supply chain. We don’t own any printers, which means we don’t have to give work to our own people just to keep the presses busy. Instead, we audit printers in our supply chain thoroughly and regularly, advising them on how to upgrade their equipment and practices to make them more competitive. At the same time, we get to know exactly what kinds of job they are best at, and which they aren’t.
This means that when any job comes in, we immediately know the four or five printers who will provide the highest quality work and turn the job around in the required time. Now comes the second factor: competitive tension.
We cherry-pick the four or five best printers for each job and send them an RFQ (request for quote). This is a completely automated process run through our Media Centre platform, so we always have a record of every quote we’ve ever received for every kind of job.
When the selected printers supply their quote, we can choose the best price, knowing full well that we’ve not only scored on quality, turnaround time and suitability, we’re also paying the lowest price for the job (the amount of work we can place generally guarantees a highly competitive quote).
Over hundreds, or even thousands of jobs, these relatively small cost saving can amount to hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds – far more than it costs for the dedicated account managers we install alongside your marketing department to take the print burden off you.
And there’s another bonus too (I said I’d come back to loyalty). If you feel a bit bad about moving work from your favoured suppliers to a new, efficiently engineered supply chain, we have an answer for that too.
Often, these legacy printers need upskilling and uptooling to get them up to scratch. We frequently help with that process, advising them how to step up to the level required to join our roster of approved printers. In the long run, they may even get more work for our other clients than the work they lose from you.
It’s not often in business that everyone can be a winner, but it’s very satisfying when it happens.
Until next time…
About Simon Ward
Simon Ward ITG – Simon is the founder and CEO of pioneering technology-led marketing company, Inspired Thinking Group (ITG). ITG delivers best-in-class marketing software, procurement and studio services to dozens of blue-chip clients, including Audi, M&S, KFC, PUMA and Heineken.
Simon Ward SP Group – Prior to ITG, Simon founded SP Digital in 1998, and in 1999 bought SP Print to form SP Group, creating innovative marketing and point of sale displays for some of the world’s best-known retailers, including M&S, Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett and Calvin Klein.