The RFP Process Made Simple

The first step in the RFP process is to identify the companies you wish to consider as potential bidders on your distribution business. You have, essentially, two options: specialist corporations that provide distribution services to book publishers, and book publishers who handle distribution for other publishers.

Every of these options has its pluses and minuses. Consider both—the broader you forged your net, the better your options, as well as your understanding of the range of companies available.

Regardless of the players you consider, your RFP must be sent to a minimal of four bidders, and it’s best to permit ample time (four months, minimum) for the whole process from RFP creation to last vendor selection.

Protect Your Info

Earlier than you trade any info, all prospective bidders should be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). The NDA mustn’t only embody prohibitions against divulging confidential monetary and operational info provided by either party, but should comprise a clause clearly prohibiting the dialogue of the RFP with unauthorized parties within the publisher’s organization. Moving to a third-party distribution enterprise model is a significant step, and till the decision is finalized and a transition plan confirmed, the details of the effort should be shared only on a necessity-to-know basis. Beyond the potential nervousness and disruption to your business, your negotiating leverage is diminished in case your effort is plagued by data leaks.

Part One: Your Wants and Expectations

An RFP should have two major sections. Section 1 ought to include details about your current operations and your expectations for your corporation over the three to 5 years following the transition to the third-party provider.

The latter is particularly important—particularly in case you see your group embracing the operational opportunities presented by print-on-demand (POD) and short-run digital 토토 안전놀이터 printing. As POD pricing continues to decline to close-commodity ranges, printing technology improves and inventory becomes virtual, the calls for on distribution facilities will undergo dramatic change—all of which ought to translate to reduced working costs for publishers.

Section 1 also ought to embody, at minimal, quantitative particulars for your small business’ final full, fiscal 12 months, including:

Number of active customers

Number of invoices and credit memos issued annually

Calendarized gross sales and returns—in both dollars and units

Transaction details, together with number of units per invoice and number of lines per bill

Number of titles in active backlist

Number of new titles published annually

Examination copy quantity

Average number of books in storage

Specialised service necessities, including kitting, international shipments, sticker application, re-jacketing, etc.

Publisher service expectations, together with time-in-process requirements for main processes resembling income and complimentary-copy order fulfillment, returns processing, check-in and availability of incoming inventory, etc.

Be Accurate and In-depth

The quality and quantity of the information you provide may have a direct bearing on the accuracy of the bid and the quality of the working relationship between you and your distribution partner. It is a good idea to include a multiyear view of the information listed above that illustrates both historic traits and prospects for the future.

Part Two: Ask the Right Questions

Part 2 of the RFP provides the prospective distribution partners with detailed questions relating to their organizations, the services you would like them to provide and, of course, the

related costs.

The RFP ought to, at minimum, request the following:

• Distributor background, including history, ownership, organization chart, client list and financial statements.

• Operational descriptions. Request a list of critical warehouse, achievement and repair processes, and written descriptions together with workcirculation diagrams. The operations ought to embrace order intake, pick, pack and ship, customer service, invoicing, credit and collections, and processing of incoming shipments.

• Service-stage standards. Request that the distributor provide details of service-level standards (e.g., time in process) for critical business operations.

• Inventory management, together with physical stock processes, shrink-

control procedures, back-order reporting and administration, and audit controls.

• Digital services. A number of main distributors have established strategic alliances with POD specialists, digital asset management service providers and e-book distributors to supply a broader range of services. These companies supply the smaller publisher a remarkable opportunity and should be absolutely explored as part of the RFP process.

• Computer systems, including a complete description of the hardware and business software in place, plans for any upgrades or replacement of the business systems, EDI/ONIX capabilities, client information access and reporting capabilities.

• Contingency plans, including

catastrophe-recovery plans for the facility and business systems, and a readiness plan in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak. A surprising number of publishers have asked their suppliers to provide their enterprise continuity plans for managing by means of a flu epidemic.

• Customer references. While references provided by the distributor will only be from glad prospects, they are nonetheless valuable and ought to be thoroughly researched.

• Fee structure. Distributors typically will quote companies on a transaction basis or as a proportion of net sales. The publisher ought to specify the favorred pricing technique, but for ease of comparing prospective prices with historical spending, the proportion of net sales method is recommended. In addition to the bottom costs, the distributor should be asked to provide a detailed list of costs that aren’t included in the base fee, reminiscent of excess returns charges, excess inventory, personalized reporting charges, etc.

• Transition costs. The move from your existing distributor to your new provider won’t be without costs. The distributor ought to be asked to provide an estimate of the transition bills that shall be billed to you—if any—including stock switch, data upload and some other bills for which the distributor will count on to be reimbursed.

• Pattern contract. You must have your authorized advisor evaluate the distributor’s sample contract.

A Service Indicator

A carefully crafted RFP is essential to successfully evaluating the potential value of third-party distribution. The time you put money into it will likely be time well spent.

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