Places to Search on the Web for Fulfillment Services for Your Company

You’ve decided that outsourcing the fulfillment operation to a professional services company might be a good solution for your business, but you’re not exactly sure where to turn. More and more companies are turning to the Web to search for business services rather than some of the more traditional avenues. Searching online offers a speed of search that is unmatched by the other sources. Searches can even be done on your smart phone. In fact, nearly anything can be found by searching the Web. But be careful where you look during your search online for the best fulfillment services, as there are pros and cons to each methodology.

Search for Companies on Search Engines: Many companies begin by searching for fulfillment services on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. This is a good place to start, as there is a wealth of information to be uncovered using the search engines. In particular, try to search for fulfillment companies that reside in your targeted location, and that specialize in your specific commodity type. For example, if you sell apparel related products in your local area, you can more precisely find companies with that focus by incorporating those keywords into your search criteria. Furthermore, make sure that you search at least a couple of pages deep, since you might uncover a company that fits your ideal criteria but doesn’t show up on the first page of results. But be extremely careful when performing this type of search. Most frequently, the companies that you’ll find at the top of the search engines are usually the larger fulfillment providers that have more marketing dollars and budget to spend on ensuring that their sites rank highly for keyword searches. You may not as easily find the smaller and mi-tier fulfillment providers using this methodology since they may not have the funds to advertise or they just may not have the know how in terms of things that they can do to get their sites to show up for these searches. And one last piece of advice for any companies that you find using a search of this type – make sure to put them through your strictest due diligence process, since there is no way to guarantee that the company you find will be a high quality provider. Anyone can say whatever they want on their website, so be certain to validate their claims and research their company thoroughly.

LinkedIn and Social Networking Helps: Social networks are such a popular place to find information and recommendations for products and services. In particular, Linked In is a professional business social networking site, geared specifically towards businesses. If you have a large enough and trusted network, you could ask them if they have any recommendations for fulfillment vendors that might be of interest. M of the social networks have specific pages geared towards topics of interest to people. In the case of Linked In, they have a number of “groups” where users give information on their experiences with service providers. Of particular interest would be anyone in your network that has actually used a fulfillment service in the past. This could prove to be invaluable – not only because they might have a good company for you to talk to, but also because they may have some insights into the most important things to look for in a good company. Make sure, when using the social networks, that you properly consider the source of any referrals. Especially with the use of Linked In groups, make sure that anyone who recommends a potential fulfillment provider isn’t financially affiliated with that provider – such as an employee or sales rep. The value of the social network is to find real references from real people – not additional sales pitches from the companies themselves. Furthermore, it’s important to note: just because a fulfillment company was a good fit for one company doesn’t mean that they be the best fit for your company. Remember to dig deeper and find out the specialization of the referral so that you can best access whether or not it will be good for your business.

Referral Sites Can Provide Good Leads: There are a handful of sites that rigorously screen service providers and then connect you with a handful of companies that would be a good fit for your project. One such company that helps in the warehousing and fulfillment industry is The great thing about this service is that they’ve collected a wealth of information about fulfillment companies throughout the US and Canada, and they collect all of your project information and get you in touch with the best companies for your needs. Because they are unbiased and not affiliated with any of their member companies (and they don’t collect commissions on any of the deals that result from companies that they connect), they are a trusted source for recommendations. There are a few other companies out there that offer a similar service within the logistics industry. However, because the screening process and unbiased nature of some of these other alternatives aren’t as apparent, you might consider these sites at your own risk. While being instantly connected with companies can be a good thing, it is risky if the providers haven’t been seriously vetted first. Furthermore, sites that make connections and earn a commission on any deals struck will ultimately result in higher priced services fees, which will hurt your bottom line.

Directories and Other Articles – A Few Words of Caution: Because fulfillment directories and articles on fulfillment services companies are plentiful on the Web, it’s important for you to use your better judgment when reviewing and accessing their content. First, directories are usually paid websites where companies are listed for a fee. Therefore, the only reason that companies might be a part of the directory site is because they paid a fee. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part directories require payment and should be viewed as such. Also, directories oftentimes don’t keep up with their listings as frequently as needed, so the list may include companies that have gone out of business or changed in scope substantially. Second, there are a number of articles out there claiming that they know the top 3 fulfillment providers or compare 2-3 of the “best” companies. Again, these are usually paid articles rather than unbiased pieces – you should definitely “take them with a grain of salt”. There are literally thousands of fulfillment companies in the US – there is no way that 3 companies are the most ideally suited provider for all businesses!

A Last Few “Off the Beaten Path” Sources: If you still haven’t found a good option, you might take your search offline and talk to some of your business associates or give the local Chamber of Commerce a call. Especially when searching for a company in an unpopulated area, you may not find adequate resources on the Internet. Sometimes, either a close associate or the local Chamber of Commerce will have an idea of a local option that you weren’t able to find yourself.

What To Do Once You Found Your Short List: After you’ve compiled a short list of potential vendors, your job isn’t yet complete. The fun task of determining the best company for your business has just begun. No matter which avenue you choose above, it’s important that you perform adequate due diligence on any potential provider. Due diligence includes the following: visiting the facility if possible, speaking to different staff at the company, talking to references of people who are currently using the company, speaking with trade references to determine financial stability, validating any awards, memberships or claims of the company, obtaining a demo of any of the systems that they will use, and any other method that you can think of to verify that the company will perform the task as claimed. It’s a lot of work, but the fulfillment operation is vitally important to the success of your company. Take your time and you’ll be able to find a good fit. The more time you spend searching, the less time you’ll hopefully have to spend managing fulfillment crisis or even worse – switching companies after a bad experience.


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Fine Art Printing For Self Publishing Artists & Photographers

Fine art or giclee printing offer photographers and artists an affordable way to create high quality reproductions of their work for display or sale.  The printing is done at a standard that allows every detail of the original work to shine through without compromise.  Through a combination of state of the art scanning techniques, exquisite papers, and archival inks, these prints are often works of art in themselves and will last longer than other inkjet, silkscreen or lithograph images.Key to producing a high standard are the inks used.  Unlike most standard printing processes which use either three colored inks (RGB), or four (CMYK), fine art printing uses roughly twelve colors to produce an almost infinite range of shades and tones. This allows for a much more detailed reproduction of the original work, capturing not only the full tonal range, but also allowing subtle changes in color to convey the texture in vibrant, crisp detail.  This is particularly effective when reproducing paintings, as each brush stroke is visible.  Even intricate, highly detailed painting effects such as stippling or impasto will be apparent in the print.As well as using more inks, the chemical make up of those inks is specially designed to stand the test of time.  Even professionally printed photographs and images will fade over time or suffer color distortions from UV damage. The archival pigmented inks used in are UV stable and will resist fading and discoloration for over 100 years.State of the art printing solutions involved in digital fine art printing means that there are no visible signs of the printing process.  Unlike other lower quality reproductions, a print made will show no dots, lines, color borders, or other printer marks.There are various papers or canvas available to create different looks.   Fine art papers are a specialty, often produced by family owned businesses that have passed their paper making secrets and skills from generation to generation.  These papers must be 100% acid free to avoid any decay or chemical interaction with the inks, and must have a certain standard of porosity to allow the inks to adhere to the surface without fading through over absorption.Of course all of this effort and knowledge is wasted, if the original scan for the print is not of the same high standard as every other element involved in creating the final piece.  Before printing, the interpretation of the original has to be a good as possible. The old adage of “Rubbish in, rubbish out” is perhaps never truer than in the world of fine art printing.  This printing method is designed to capture every tiny detail of the work, which means that each dust mote, hair or fine scratch on a scan will appear on the final print too.Various after effects can be applied to achieve a distinct texture or artistic look.  Prints can be made to look glossy, or a layer of carefully applied texture gels can create the illusion of brush strokes and make the print almost indistinguishable from a real painting until viewed very close up.  The edges of a print can be digitally or actually torn to produce the deckled effect which has become popular over the past decade.  Fine art printing can also involve a final, protective finish in the form of a clear coating of a substance such as acrylic to protect the print against scratches, light and water.

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Scrapbooking Software – Going Digital

A lot of people working on scrapbooks today only know this hobby by using scrapbook software and creating digital albums at our computers. But this creative hobby of scrapbook started with putting together hand-written notes and clippings into a journal. It soon included adding scrap ribbons, papers, dried flowers and more notes. It was a way to keep your own thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a book. Much like a diary or what was called an everyday book, these pages were interesting to read later on. Many of these journals contained measurements and notes that pertained to business matters and were usually a man’s activity. As these journals grew in usefulness and popularity, the women took a more creative approach to them. Now this activity which was so humble in its beginnings is a whole industry.Early Scrapbooks or NotebooksIt is believed that scrapbooks began in Greece when scholars held readings and conversations with each other. These often were attended by other younger scholars who took notes of what these other scholars had to say. They also wrote their own thoughts and these writings became notebooks of their emotional feelings. These were called ‘Hypomnemata’ which has been translated as notes or notebook.The art of creating these notebooks increased in volume as printing became more available and widely spread. These notebooks sound very similar to how we approach scrapbook over the years. While the beginnings involved papers, pens, glue and ink, scrapbooks has changed quite a bit. Now with more traditional forms of scrapbook, we still use those items but have added colorful and printed papers, stencils, rubber stamps, felt pens, die cuts and embellishments of all kinds.Changes with the Computer AgeWith computers, scrapbooks have gone digital. Scrapbooks now uses digital medium, computers, scanners, color copiers and printers for text and for photographs. Digital scrapbooks have caused a growth in scrapbook software too.With scrapbook software, no one is restricted to only one type of paper or pattern for their digital album. Quotes and decorations are at our fingertips with the click of a mouse. It is still very much an art form but one that anyone can learn and expand with little trouble or dedication. Scrapbook software has been developed by several websites and companies to give us a wide expanse of material and colorful pages for our digital scrapbooks. For many, scrapbook software is their choice on preparing scrapbooks.Creative but PrivateScrapbook software and computers allow us to have only a small amount of material or space to organize and create our online scrapbook. With standard layouts for the photos allows us to be more organized while working. Everything is in the computer instead of spread out across a table or stacked in storage bins. While working on our layouts, digital photos or collages of several pictures, scrapbook software allows us to be creative with the layout, font size, and paper stock to create exactly the look that we want. Flowers can be added or taken away, changed to a ribbon, and fonts can be changed quickly as you decide whether to say I like, I love, or Things I love about you.Many sites provide software that with a little practice any user can begin working on their album layout with assistance or training. Scrapbook software will include graphics, clip art, smiley faces and other caricatures, templates and a wide variety of paper backgrounds, frames to be as creative as any other scrapbook hobbyist.There is one big advantage to using scrapbook software. You can create pages online in a very private way. No one needs to see what you are doing unless you want them to. Regular paper and photo scrapbooks occupy a large amount of space that is hard to keep private from others in the household.Social Media NetworkingWhile scrapbook software does allow you to be private, it doesn’t mean that you have to work completely alone. Many websites have forums that allow both digital and regular scrapbook enthusiasts to view each others work, share designs and layouts. It’s networking the new way – online.We have all seen the increase in social media sites for communicating or making friends, dating, job hunting and marketing. Scrapbook software gives every one a choice of being privately creative or sharing their scrapbook with friends and acquaintances and can even start a new circle of friends. Scrapbook software is another social media to connect with people from the neighborhood and from around the world.

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