What is a white paper and why you should read them

I’m sure you’ve seen the term white paper around and maybe even read a few. A white paper is (usually) a report that identifies problems and how to resolve them. These are typically written by a commercial party with a vested interest. Their white papers will explain how a client solved X problem using their product or service.

If you’ve read any white papers, you likely realize they’re rather dry; written for high-level executives or parties who make purchasing decisions on a grand scale. Although most of us aren’t at that level to appreciate the proffered solution, white papers can be useful glimpses into constraints we may unknowingly introduce into the world of commerce. Understanding our buyer’s problems by reading white papers makes it easier to position ourselves to become a preferred supplier.

For example -the inspiration for today’s glossary entry- is a white paper called Effective Planning Essential for inbound Shipments from Descartes, a logistics management company. Those who are perplexed or frustrated by the fulfillment policies of brick and mortar stores should read or at least scan it to gain an understanding of the conflicts and problems associated with the receipt and processing of orders you ship to buyers. Consider:

Online Appointment Scheduling. The vast majority of dock appointments are now requested and booked online by suppliers and an estimated 500 carriers. Faxed requests are also keyed in the system to ensure complete visibility. Inbound coordinators can prioritize shipments, refuse carrier requests, or configure prioritization rules and constraints to automate the scheduling process.

Realizing that the party receiving your goods may have 500 other parties attempting to deliver goods too, certainly puts another spin to it. In other words, if your buyers need a solution from a company like Descartes, you can understand why their fulfillment policies are so strict and why they’d reasonably expect you to have a lower tier product like EDI to work hand in hand with their processing systems. It’s not that stores are being mean to you, it’s that many don’t have the infrastructure to work with anything less.

Related:
Selling to department stores pt.1
Fulfillment centers pt.1
Fulfillment centers pt.2
Importance of Product Identification
Importance of Product Identification pt. 2

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