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Shrink wrap system makes the grade.

By Sara Pearson Specter, Editor at Large

Video Professor uses new shrink wrap to increase stick rate and improve product.

Nearly 11,000 people per day heed the call of "try my product?" from the Video Professor John Scherer during television commercials touting computer software tutorials for everything from Excel to eBay. Callers initiate a free, 10-day trial period to review the programs and decide whether to keep them, what the company calls its "stick rate."

"About two years ago we made the decision to change our shipping package and go with a more branded, retail box," says Chris Carpenter, warehouse and distribution manager for Video Professor. The company selected a shrink wrapper and shrink tunnel (Lantech, 800-866-0322, ) to provide a high-quality shrink wrap for its boxed CD-ROM sets.

Prior to the change Video Professor inserted the discs into a long, thin book with pockets, labeled it, placed it in a sealable bag and mailed it. With the new packaging, not only did the sales volume increase by 2,000 to 3,000 pieces per day, but Video Professor also saw a 4% increase in the stick rate, with a net effect on the company's bottom line of more than $50,000 per day.

"It's amazing how the appearance of the package can affect program sales," notes Carpenter. "It truly influences consumer perceptions about the package contents."

Video Professor's order fulfillment takes place at its distribution warehouse. Program requests are received through a call center or online, and order information is input into a database which produces an order with mailing label.

Orders are picked up at the main office each morning and taken to a distribution center where they are separated. Product is picked and mailing labels affixed. The boxes are then sent down a manual conveyor for shrink wrapping. On an average day, Video Professor shrink wraps 22 packages per minute--about half the 40-package-per-minute capability of the shrink wrapper.

The 11,000 orders per day are fulfilled in an 8.5 hour shift, so efficient operation with little to no rework or downtime is critical. Most of the program boxes measure 5 x 8 x 1.5 inches, but there are a total of four different box sizes, making the shrink wrap system's versatility an important factor.

"At one point we were wrapping 'The Peter Costas Putting Professor' program on this machine. And, the box for that product was 4 feet long," Carpenter recalls.

To accommodate its various packaging sizes, the company uses 60 gauge film on 12-, 13- and 18-inch wide rolls. The film also protects the box throughout shipping and allows pre-printed box graphics to re-enforce the Video Professor brand.

The shrink tunnel uses soft convection to ensure uniform distribution of heat and eliminate hot or cold spots, producing attractive, consistent shrink packages with no bubbles or burn-outs. Equipped with an 18-inch wide conveyor moving at a top speed of 70 feet per minute, the tunnel's chamber measures 51 x 22 x 10 inches.

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Title Annotation:Video Professor
Author:Pearson, Sara
Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2009
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