upgrading our fulfilment operations

Although much of the conversation over the past year has been focussed on the digital side of healthcare, our clients still have needed to keep up with demands to provide more traditional physical assets to the audiences they serve. Our fulfilment team have been working throughout the pandemic to meet these demands, whilst making changes to our warehouse to improve the service they offer to our healthcare clients.

In this blog, we catch up with IGNIFI Fulfilment Manager Susan Conlon and Fulfilment Operative Michelle Johnson to find out what it’s been like working through the pandemic and how they feel the updates to our warehouse will benefit our clients.

How have you both found the last year, working through the pandemic while the industry has been largely focussed on working from home?

M: For me, there wasn’t much of a change to my day-to-day role. Because the service we offered to our health clients was essential we had to remain operational, therefore I still came to work each day. What did change was that there were lots of restrictions in place at first i.e.: not signing for deliveries, wearing PPE outside of the main office but thankfully things are starting to get back to normal and these restrictions are easing back into the pre-pandemic ways of working.

S: Although the day-to-day responsibilities of my role did not change, I had to juggle working from home and working from the office due to having school aged children who required home schooling. It was challenging at times; a challenge many of our clients were also experiencing at the height of the pandemic.

Michelle and I have worked together for over 20 years which put us in a good position for dealing with anything that came our way during these strange times. We also used some of our quieter periods to upskill in various areas to be able to help each other out more (and other colleagues in client services).

From the start of the pandemic to now , what trends have you seen in terms of fulfilment requests?

S: At the height of the uncertainty at the very start of the pandemic in March 2020 our order levels dropped dramatically when the first lockdown was put in place.

However, this was only temporary and as our clients adjusted to the new ways of working and as restrictions eased over the course of the year, this was reflected in an increase in orders. What we did find is that many orders that previously were sent to salesforce home addresses started to go direct to clinics and hospitals. This was because hospitals had suspended unnecessary visits, meaning the sales reps couldn’t visit the HCPs as they would normally have done (and fuelled the push for digital materials).

Further issues were also encountered as the couriers were no longer allowed to deliver directly to hospital departments and had to deliver to the central goods inwards area. Initially, this did result is some packages being delayed as hospitals’ internal delivery systems were under stress. Thankfully this issue didn’t last for long. To be proactive, we also started pressing for contact numbers and email addresses so that we could inform HCPs when their delivery was being made.

M: What has also changed since the start of the pandemic is the type of equipment and products that we stock for our clients. We now stock a wide variety of PPE on behalf of our clients including masks, face shields, gloves, and hand sanitisers. These were being ordered frequently last year and it was important that although global shortages were being reported that we managed to maintain good stock levels keep up with the demand.

What would you say to clients who may feel the need for physical materials is declining?

S: Although digital resources have increased in popularity since the start of the pandemic, hardcopy materials will always be needed. We have noticed that patient materials have become far more popular than HCP sales aids/leave pieces etc. as these HCP targeted materials have mostly been moved online.

Many patients prefer to be given something to take away with them that is tangible – and not everyone has access to apps and websites. This is particularly true for older audiences who have not grown up in the digital era. The requirement for physical materials like leaflets, booklets, guides, diaries etc. will always be there – but there has definitely been a shift in the target audience for paper-based items.

What changes have been made to update the warehouse and how do you feel that this will improve operations?

M: The warehouse has been completely transformed. Floors have been deep cleaned, walls painted and brand-new racking re-positioned in the opposite direction to maximise space. It’s given us the opportunity to re-organise our customers’ materials to make us more efficient when picking orders.

S: The re-organisation has helped us to position the most frequently ordered materials in an easily accessible area. Although our turnaround times are very good anyway (within 24 hours) it simply means we can process more orders more quickly. It is also a visible reminder when stocks are running low so we can give our customers plenty of notice to arrange reprints/replenishments. Our customers rely on this sort of information from us as they are always so busy, therefore any help we can give is appreciated.

More so than ever before, it is important to keep up with technology and current trends in the market. It’s great to see exhibitions/conferences being organised again – only in the last month we have seen materials being ordered that haven’t been used for almost 18 months. Client salesforce meetings are taking place in hotels again and we are ready to assist with any special requirements (pre-packed folders/special delivery requirements etc). Also, as a value-added service our stock ordering system has been updated providing a web-based platform that our users can access on any device. We have always had a reputation of being very customer focused and strive to give the best service possible at all times.

Upgrading our warehouse

As your fulfilment needs are ramping up, we’re here to help

With lifting restrictions changing the way that we work yet again, it’s important that we keep our finger on the pulse of our changing industry so that we can continue to provide the best service possible for our clients.

If you’re looking for an agency to provide storage and distribution of your sales materials, manage your inventory and help to streamline the marketing process, get in touch today.

Posted by Rebecca Dargue
Health Science Content Writer

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