Publication Zone helps companies provide written materials to customers

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Companies that use brochures, catalogs, manuals and other written materials to market their products and serve their customers sometimes have a difficult time fulfilling replacement orders for their literature.
Hartland-based Commercial Communications Inc. (CCI) developed Publication Zone, a Web-based document ordering and management system for its customers, and the customers of its customers, so they can save time and money by moving all files online and change over to a print-on-demand system.
CCI is a commercial printer and Web-based program developer for document creation, retention and management services.
Publication Zone has been available to CCI customers for more than 10 years. CCI recently released a 2.0 version of Publication Zone that offers additional documentation management services, tracking and shipping information and an e-commerce system for manufacturers and distributors who want to have their clients re-order documents directly from their Web site.
Publication Zone can be utilized by any type of company that distributes documents and literature to their customers, but has been predominantly used by manufacturers, said Brent Hegwood, executive vice president of sales and marketing for CCI.
CCI recently began working with publishers and professors who wish to print on demand or only print a certain portion of a book, Hegwood said.
"The idea is to lower the cost of ownership in the information distribution process," Hegwood said.
The Publication Zone has been an effective tool for Milwaukee-based Cleaver-Brooks, a family of companies that specialize in manufacturing industrial boiler and burner systems.
With 48 representatives and distributors located around the country and in Canada, Cleaver-Brooks does not have the time to reprint documents, manuals and brochures while still focusing on manufacturing a product, said Beth Brown, spokeswoman for Cleaver-Brooks.
"It takes the complete ordering process out of our hands," Brown said. "For us to not have to worry about printing and who (the documents) are going to takes a burden off of us and allows it to be a sure thing, a one-stop shop for (our representatives)."
Cleaver-Brooks has used Publication Zone as a link on its Web site for more than five years and is upgrading to the 2.0 version, Brown said.
Companies that print materials through CCI can implement Publication Zone for no charge to automate ordering processes through CCI.
CCI originally developed Publication Zone to automate its own management and ordering processes, and it is now part of their business system, Hegwood said.
Customers who want to give their customers and distributors the ability to order literature directly from CCI or want to use Publication Zone for multiple documentation management and distribution services can purchase monthly subscriptions from CCI starting at $5,000 per month, depending on customization requirements, said Chad Hegwood, vice president of technology for CCI.
"I also use (Publication Zone) for reports that I give the finance department every quarter," Brown said. "I give them a physical inventory report of everything on hand."
Cleaver-Brooks also can easily create a report on what the representatives are ordering and where it is going, Brown said. A password-protected link on the Cleaver-Brooks Web site allows representatives to enter the Publication Zone Extranet site.
The representative places orders in the shopping cart section, selects a shipping option and CCI ships the product and collects the payment, Brown said.
"We don’t have the cost of involving employees and counting inventory and money and all of the other stuff (involved)," Brown said. "CCI just puts it into an account for us every month."
Invensys Building Systems, a Loves Park, Ill.-based building automation and controls manufacturing company, implemented Publication Zone about five years ago. With the time savings and decrease in work load, the company was able to lose the equivalent of one employee because transactions are no longer a manual process, said Brad Stradtmann, manager of strategic tools and training for Invensys.
A manual transaction would have required Invensys only to have the literature on hand and ready to ship. However, if the literature was out of stock at both Invensys and CCI, Invensys would have to fulfill a certain order number to reprint the literature and then ship it to a customer, Stradtmann said.
"One nice thing is that CCI constantly works with us to make enhancements and improvements to accommodate inefficiencies in our process," Stradtmann said. "(Publication Zone) has greatly reduced the amount of administration we have to do because the Web site will handle the account information. It allows different offices to set up their own users and has greatly reduced administration we had to go through in the past with keeping people up to date on the site."
Publication Zone only requires one user database, eliminating administration for Invensys because the company uses the one user database to administer literature fulfillment, Stradtmann said.
"It is a very easy way to get products to customers in an easy fashion because CCI does all of our printing for brochures, operating manuals, dimension and rating spec sheets," Brown said. "CCI stocks the printed materials on their shelves, representatives order online and the (literature) is sent to them right away. We are pretty much out of the loop as far as paying the printing costs. It is a great system."

Editor’s note: Commercial
Communications Inc. (CCI ) is not affiliated with CCI Corp., a Milwaukee-based technology consulting company.

Elizabeth Geldermann is a reporter for Small Business Times. Send technology news to her at or by calling her at (414) 277-8181, ext.121. Technology news can also be sent to: Elizabeth Geldermann, Small Business Times, 1123 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

June 10, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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