Book Publisher/Distributor Reduces Labeling Costs by More than Half
Eagle Management Group of Tulsa, Okla. was a company with a problem brought on by its success.The publisher and distributor of evangelical Christian books and gift items has seen its business grow tremendously over the last few years. The company provides books and gift items to well over 10,000 bookstores throughout the country and to large retailers, such as Sam's, Price Costco and Walden Books.
For Eagle Management, distributing books and gift items is not simply a matter of picking and packing the right items to fill orders. Many retailers, especially large retailers, require customized bar code labels that enable them to price and track sales in accordance with their internal systems. Some retailers require a custom label that identifies each book by title and assigns a price. Other retailers order a single bar code for each price point within the category. This requires Eagle Management to custom label each item just before it is packed and shipped.
Since Eagle Management has over 4,000 book titles and hundreds of gift items this presents a tremendous challenge. The company was using a largely manual process and contracting out peak loads to handle the one million items they distributed each year. This process opened the door to errors and packing slowdowns. Adding to the complexity, when book and gift items were to be filled by an outside vendor there were additional coordination issues in getting the right labels and products to the right place and on time.
"We knew that we had to do something to automate the situation," said Travis May, special project manager for Eagle Management. "We were looking for a single system that would keep track of all of the special labeling requirements and automate the entire process."
May researched several alternative solutions and through a local company, Master Packing, was introduced to ID Technology of Fort Worth, Texas. ID Technology developed an integrated system that includes labeling software -- Label Matrix from StrandWare , Willett America, Inc America's LabelJet printer and label applicator -- and custom designed a conveyer system. For items that require special handling, there is also a Sato America, Inc. thermal transfer tabletop printer so operators can hand apply labels as necessary.
Now, all labels are controlled by the Label Matrix software. Each title or gift item is entered into the Label Matrix database. Special customer labeling requirements are entered so that item/customer combinations can be selected. When filling customer orders, operators call up a template for the customer, which is standard across the account. Then, in order to process each order, the operators simply scan the bar code for the item from a master identifier sheet and then scan in a quantity. Eagle Management generally runs a series of orders for each major customer giving operators a simple scanning process to move from order to order.
"This has been a tremendous benefit for us," continued May. "We've tripled our output and driven our labeling costs down from about five cents an item to under two cents. Furthermore, we fully recouped our costs in less than three months."