Will your Point of Sale marketing arrive in time for Q4?

Will your Point of Sale marketing arrive in time for Q4?

If you spend time on Linkedin you’ve probably seen the image below or a variant of it doing the rounds.

What were your first thoughts?

No alt text provided for this image
  • Is this actually real?
  • Holy crap!
  • That’s a lot of boats!
  • Will my new bike ever arrive?
  • What does it usually look like?
  • Why has this happened?
  • Why are all the dots different colours?

My thoughts as someone who spends an unhealthy amount of time thinking about how to make marketing more effective and less wasteful was “That’s a TON of point of sale marketing that is NOT going to make it to it’s destination in time for Q4.”

For many consumer goods companies the relentless focus on driving down the unit cost of their marketing materials has meant that large quantities of the production is now done in Asia.

These materials are often ordered 6-9 months in advance and once manufactured are then shipped across the world on huge tankers like the one pictured above where they are distributed to warehouses where the materials are stored for months before finally being distributed to the marketplace.

Sadly, a large amount of these marketing materials never actually leave the warehouse and become obsolete which results in them having to be disposed of via recycling, incineration or landfill.

I’ve written several times about the madness of this and the hugely negative impact it has on the environment that this has.

In addition to this being a highly inefficient and wasteful process one of the big downsides of this method of production is the risk that your marketing materials that you have ordered 6-9 months in advance may not actually arrive in time for the planned event or activation.

I remember a client of ours in Canada telling me about a time where his sales team were waiting on a consignment of plastic Ice Buckets due to arrive from China to promote a new product launch that summer. However, the Ice Buckets arrived several weeks late missing the event entirely and becoming obsolete.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common and is being made more likely by the current global supply chain challenges.

Below is a graph showing this number of ships waiting to load or discharge in Shanghai. Despite the effects of the COVID pandemic starting to lessen there are still massive supply chain challenges going on around the world. Due to the recent lockdown in Shanghai there has been a massive spike in the number of commercial ships that are currently stuck at sea waiting to drop off and/or pick up goods.

Shipping delays in Shanghai – 2017-2022

If I was a marketer who has a huge Q4 activity planned and was expecting a significant quantity of POS to be delivered in time for the activation I would be very concerned looking at this graph.

However, there is an alternative solution.

It may not be right for every product category but there is an increasing number of situations where producing POS locally and on-demand is a far better option.

Yes, the unit cost will be higher. Probably much higher.

BUT when you look at the total cost of POS which includes manufacturing, administration, shipping, storage, distribution and wastage you may find that producing on-demand may actually be cheaper as well as being far better for the planet.

By using “on-demand” production you can order what you need and when you need it and most importantly ensure that your materials will arrive in time to ensure your marketing activation is a success.

We’ve enabled companies such as Bacardi, Carlsberg and Diageo to transition large portions of their marketing activation to the on-demand model and we’re constantly adding new product categories to enable our clients to increase the % of on-demand production vs planned production.

However, on-demand production can only be done efficiently using technology. Both in the front-end to allow sales people and activation teams to design and order the materials as well as in the backend to automate the high volume of orders.

This is why we have invested heavily over the last 6 years in building and improving our Brand Creator platform that our clients sales teams use to customise and order brand approved marketing on-demand.

Once a user has created an order we then use the latest technology to automatically route these orders via API to our “cloud printing” network which comprised of the best printing and manufacturing companies in the world.

The materials are then produced locally and shipped out within 24 – 48hrs.

This tech-enabled process allows for far greater speed, agility and responsiveness meaning that sales team can take advantage of opportunities to activate marketing programs with their customers that would have previously been impossible due to the long lead times.

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