Ingram Content Group has been in the direct-to-consumer business since 2003, and as more publishers sell directly to consumers and retailers’ online businesses grow, Ingram’s business has evolved to permit different types of fulfillment.
Mark Ouimet, v-p and general manager of Ingram Publisher Services, said the company provides fulfillment services for several hundred independent booksellers who have Web sites through ABA’s IndieCommerce platform, noting that “any book in Ingram’s inventory can be delivered to a customer’s doorstep as if it was shipped from [the bookseller’s] store.” “We use Ingram’s direct-to-home quite a bit,” said Chuck Robinson of Village Books in Bellingham, Wash. “We’ve been pretty happy with the service, but call me Mr. Oblivious. I had no idea publishers were using it.”
Ouimet is uncertain how aware indies are of ICD for publishers, and to date, Ingram has not had any negative feedback about it. Ouimet said Ingram added Ingram Consumer Direct as another option for its distribution clients. “We can create a tailored model for any size publisher, and Ingram’s distribution network allows orders to be processed from the center nearest the final destination,” Ouimet said. “The advantage to publishers using ICD is the direct relationship they can have with consumers.” ICD is activated when a publisher sends an order for fulfillment via a Web site or an internal order system to process payment with Ingram’s e-commerce platform. Shipments leave Ingram with the publisher’s or retailer’s branding on the packing slip and shipping label. Delivery time is usually 24 hours.
O’Reilly Media has used ICD for seven years. “We have found an enormous amount of value by using it,” said general manager Preston Paull. “Because Ingram also handles our retail fulfillment, we’re able to more efficiently manage inventory as the same print units are available and can be fulfilled into either channel. There is also a seamless integration with Lightning Source’s print-on-demand capability, so we can sell products on oreilly.com that have no existing inventory, and the units print and fulfill automatically as part of the ICD program. We feel having a direct relationship with our customers is very important.”
Chris Braun, general manager of Nolo Press, has been pleased with the ICD program since joining last February. “The highest praise we can give is that we don’t have to think about it very much,” Braun said. “It’s been relatively turnkey.” It’s too early for Nolo to have year-over-year sales comparisons, but Braun pointed out that direct book sales for the press are growing modestly each quarter. “They account for about 15% of total gross book sales, and we expect that figure to grow to closer to 20% in 2013.”
Ouimet said ICD is doing exceptionally well. “As publishers develop and reshape business models to meet the changing needs of the market, we are in active discussions with many more publishers about our model.”