The word “fulfillment” conjures up images of boxes, lots of boxes, piled on shelves ready to be shipped out to customers, often someone else’s customers. Princeton Fulfillment Solutions, a new company with headquarters in Hamilton, does this type of fulfillment, but Stephen Pasi, its chief marketing officer, explains that fulfillment is now much more than shipping boxes.
Pasi’s company, which announced its formation on February 6 and has yet to move into its offices, is planning to build a multi-faceted business through acquisitions. “There will be organic growth, too,” he adds, but most growth will come through buying existing companies. He and his partners, Manuel Ortiz and Kevin McPhillips, have just made their first acquisition, purchasing M & B Technologies, a 50-person, 25-year-old Mercerville company that was founded by Mike Iorio, in his early 70s, who will stay on indefinitely as an executive. The Mercerville location will be retained as an operations center, while the new Hamilton offices will serve as the company’s headquarters.
Princeton Fulfillment will not disclose the terms of the deal, nor will it divulge the source of funds used to make the purchase. Financial and legal advisors on the transaction were First Choice Bank and Fox Rothschild.
Princeton Fulfillment is involved in every aspect of E-commerce, but also does a great deal of direct mail work. Pasi and his partners all come from the direct mail industry. In its traditional form, it is an industry in deep decline. “Orders are dropping like a rock,” he says. The traditional direct mail approach has involved blanket mailings of solicitations of all kinds. Cruise ship lines, outdoor clothing chains, fitness centers, specialty food stores, pear growers, toy retailers, nearly anyone with anything to sell, would fill mailbags across the land with postcards, brochures, and catalogs — each containing identical information.
This is an expensive undertaking and is not all that effective, says Pasi, who reports a shift to one-on-one marketing, which marries a merchant’s offerings — or a portion of his offerings — to a very specific demographic, ties it to a season or a date or a big life event, and prints and sends the solicitation on demand.
If you are a trout fisherman, you might get news of a sale on flies, fishing vests, and waders a month or so before the season begins. If you are due to give birth in a few months, you might be sent a special offer on nursery furniture.
Carefully targeted custom direct mail will not die any time soon, Pasi is convinced. The post office may cut back on its delivery days, the cell phone may evolve into a major marketing medium, but still, he says, there will be a place for an enticing offer delivered by a mailman.
But Princeton Fulfillment is not putting all of its eggs in the direct mail bag. The company is heavily involved in E-commerce, a term that isn’t heard as much as it was in the heady days at the beginning of the century, but which simply means selling on the Internet. Evoking those days, Pasi talks a lot about “B to C,” business to consumer, and “B to B,” business to business E-commerce. Princeton Fulfillment does both.
His company offers a menu of services to companies selling their wares on the Internet, and even lets potential customers know that they may well have valuable assets they may not even be aware of that could make them big money on the Internet.
An example of the latter is what Pasi calls “digital assets.” This largely translates into photos. The New York Times is a Princeton Fulfillment client. The newspaper of record has a rich trove of images and its E-store makes the most of them. Not only is the Times’ online store now featuring photos of President Obama, but is also selling t-shirts and coffee mugs imprinted with front page images from Inauguration Day.
Pasi will not say exactly what specific services his company provides to the New York Times, but it offers clients everything from E-store design and set up through fulfillment. In the case of images, the company even frames photographs. Princeton Fulfillment has applied for a copyright on the name “Printstown” for what it sees as a very profitable niche.
Mining digital assets could become a big business, says Pasi, who is sure that many companies do not even realize that there is a market for their digitized photographs. Newspapers and magazines of all sizes, along with sports teams, all have significant digital libraries — and potential clients for their images. Photographers, too, might do well with online stores.
But the company is not limiting itself to online image stores. It does consulting on E-commerce and develops custom software to develop, run, and improve online stores selling any and all types of goods. The company’s software can be used to direct more traffic to an E-store or to improve the customer’s experience on that store, thereby increasing sales and decreasing the troubling, but common, phenomenon of the abandoned E-shopping cart.
In the traditional fulfillment business, Princeton Fulfillment stocks and mail products — but only if they are relatively small. Patio sets? No, says Pasi, at least not yet. But one of the company’s clients is a cosmetics company. It stores that company’s full line of products and ships them out when customers put in an order, either online or by phone.
Pasi, a St. John’s University graduate (Class of 1983), is an Annandale resident who also holds an MBA from St. John’s. He met his partners when they all worked together in 1996. The three stayed in touch through the years, as they all continued in the direct mail business. Ortiz was the founder and CEO of Direct Group, where McPhillips was a founding partner and COO. Pasi was the executive vice president of marketing and business development for Transcontinental Direct USA.
Pasi says that Princeton Fulfillment plans to make one or two more acquisitions in this calendar year. From there, the company will go national, he says, at least with its printing and distribution capabilities. There are competitive and economic advantages in being able to get custom direct mail to customers quickly, he says.
Princeton Fulfillment Solutions, 4569 South Broad Street, Hamilton 08620; 609-890-6900. Manuel Ortiz, partner. www.princetonfulfillment.com.