Status on Emergent Task Planner Printing

Status on Emergent Task Planner Printing

Things are going a little slower on the Emergent Task Planner Sheet Updates than planned, but the final file is being looked at for final pricing. The major change was removing the pre-printed year from the form (which you can see in this post). The major reason: 2008 is just around the corner, and it does make sense to make the first round of forms useful into the next year. It’s just not as pretty…sigh. I’d like to eventually have entire pre-printed planners available with dates for every page, but that carries a setup cost that I can’t afford. It may be possible to do this with Print on Demand technology, but that will require a bit more research from me.

We have orders for 194 pads from 86 different people in in North America/Canada, which is awesome! There were also another 36 international orders, which we’ll do on a case-by-case basis. If you sent me an email or left a comment, I probably have your order. I have not yet sent confirmation emails, because I want to have final price ready first.

More notes follow below.

There’s nothing quite like trying to do this by the seat of your pants to make one realize how many details are involved. I have been distracted by other work, so I haven’t been 100% on this project, but now that we’re close to actually printing the whole e-commerce side of things is starting to loom larger. Plus there’s the whole packaging and fulfillment thing. Here’s my current thinking on the project, which much thanks due to the many readers who posted useful suggestions!

E-COMMERCE / FULFILLMENT SOLUTIONS

Possible Solution 1: Shopify ($24/month to start) provides a hosted e-commerce front end that integrates with payment services. I would probably just upgrade my PayPal account to Website Payments Standard. Shopify also integrates with a fulfillment provider called Shipwire, but it seems pricey (I’ll have to work out the numbers). The advantage of Shopify: it’s pretty and easy to set up. I would probably just ship packages by hand, which has the advantage of allowing me to pack each one individually to see just how much work this would be. I keep thinking it will be a LOT of work, but I won’t know until I actually try it.

Possible Solution 2: Amazon Fulfillment, which as far as I can tell costs $39 a month for the Selling on Amazon + storage / handling / shipping costs. The advantage: Could conceivably set this up pretty automatically…just keep providing product to Amazon’s warehouses, and they handle shipping it out. Products are listed on Amazon, and all the tracking and returns are handled by them too. The downside is that the packaging is not going to be very personalized, and customer service is handled by Amazon. That may not be the way to go for the first run of this. On the other hand, it would be nice not to have to worry about tracking numbers and all that stuff.

Both solutions have a hidden cost in that I need to ship product to their warehouses. I imagine that this is not that expensive. However, the product also needs to be handling-resistant. That means the pads should be shrink-wrapped or otherwise protected, which gets us into Packaging.

I’m leaning toward Shopify + Paypal + Manual Fulfillment at the moment. I’m trying to think of a good name for a store too, keeping in mind that there will likely be more products coming down the road.

PACKAGING

The initial idea was just to make pads of sheets that were glued into a convenient tear-off pad. But if you’re shipping a bunch of pads, what keeps the paper from flapping around and getting pre-maturely bent? I would hate getting a bunch of pads that were not cosmetically perfect. There are other factors too: branding and logos and all that stuff, but for the first run I’d rather focus on just learning how to manufacture and ship a product, and worry about branding later. After the e-commerce and fulfilment stuff is figured out, then it’s time to think about establishing families of products and so forth.

Packaging starts to add to cost, so this is something that goes back to the print guys to figure out what kind of protection can economically be provided. I am also thinking it would be nice to have some kind of mark on the boxes. Printing stickers might be the cheapest way of doing that.

It’s around now that I’m starting to wish I had a business manager and a project lead, so I didn’t have to worry about all this stuff.

SUMMING UP

So that’s where we are right now:

  • Waiting on Final Pricing (print and mailing)
  • Setting up E-Commerce System
  • Figuring out minimal packaging

I need to talk to my buds here about packaging options and mailing costs. Once I have this all together, I will post the information here and then email the notice for real ordering. We at least know now to expect a run of about 15,000 sheets.