The RFP Process Made Simple

Step one within the RFP process is to identify the companies you wish to consider as potential bidders on your distribution business. You’ve got, essentially, options: specialist firms that provide distribution providers to book publishers, and book publishers who deal with distribution for different publishers.

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

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

Protect Your Data

Before you exchange any information, all prospective bidders needs to be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). The NDA mustn’t only include prohibitions in opposition to divulging confidential financial and operational information provided by either party, but ought to include a clause clearly prohibiting the discussion of the RFP with unauthorized parties within the writer’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 trouble should be shared only on a need-to-know basis. Past the potential anxiousness and disruption to your corporation, your negotiating leverage is diminished in case your effort is suffering from info leaks.

Part One: Your Needs and Expectations

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

The latter is particularly important—especially for those who see your organization embracing the operational opportunities introduced by print-on-demand (POD) and brief-run digital printing. As POD pricing continues to say no to close-commodity levels, printing technology improves and inventory becomes virtual, the calls for on distribution facilities will undergo dramatic change—all of which should translate to reduced operating prices for publishers.

Part 1 additionally ought to embrace, at minimum, quantitative particulars for your enterprise’ final full, fiscal year, including:

Number of active customers

Number of invoices and credit memos issued annually

Calendarized gross sales and returns—in each 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 yearly

Examination copy volume

Common number of books in storage

Specialised service necessities, together with kitting, worldwide shipments, sticker application, re-jacketing, etc.

Publisher service expectations, including time-in-process necessities for main processes equivalent to revenue and complimentary-copy order fulfillment, returns processing, check-in and availability of incoming stock, etc.

Be Accurate and In-depth

The quality and quantity of the knowledge you provide can 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 suggestion to incorporate a multiyear view of the information listed above that illustrates both historic traits and prospects for the future.

Part Two: Ask the Right Questions

Section 2 of the RFP provides the prospective distribution partners with detailed questions regarding their organizations, the services you’ll like them to provide and, of course, the

related costs.

The RFP should, at minimal, request the following:

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

• Operational descriptions. Request a list of critical warehouse, success and repair processes, and written descriptions together with workcirculate diagrams. The operations should include 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 particulars of service-stage standards (e.g., time in process) for critical enterprise operations.

• Stock management, including physical stock processes, shrink-

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

• Digital services. A number of main distributors have established strategic alliances with POD specialists, digital asset administration service providers and e-book distributors to offer a broader range of services. These providers offer the smaller writer a remarkable opportunity and needs to be fully explored as part of the RFP process.

• Computer systems, together with an entire description of the hardware and enterprise software in place, plans for any upgrades or replacement of the enterprise systems, EDI/ONIX capabilities, shopper info access and reporting capabilities.

• Contingency plans, together with

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

• Customer references. While references provided by the distributor will only be from happy clients, they are nonetheless valuable and must be completely researched.

• Charge structure. Distributors typically will quote providers on a transaction foundation or as a share of net sales. The writer ought to specify the choosered pricing methodology, however for ease of comparing prospective prices with historical spending, the proportion of net sales methodology is recommended. In addition to the base costs, the distributor needs to be asked to provide an in depth list of prices that aren’t included in the base price, reminiscent of excess returns charges, excess stock, customized reporting fees, etc.

• Transition costs. The move out of your current distributor to your new provider won’t be without costs. The distributor should be asked to provide an estimate of the transition expenses that will likely be billed to you—if any—together with stock switch, data upload and every other bills for which the distributor will expect to be reimbursed.

• Sample contract. You must have your authorized advisor assessment the distributor’s sample contract.

A Service Indicator

A careabsolutely crafted RFP is essential to successfully evaluating the potential value of third-party distribution. The time you invest in it will probably be time well spent.

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