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Fulfillment Tech: Talking About, and Via, Twitter

Millions of people around the world are using the mass text messaging service called Twitter. Millions of other people around the world are incredibly sick and tired of the constant hype surrounding the mass text messaging service called Twitter.

Smart businesspeople are realizing that this technology is not only a fad, but a potential game-changer. The fulfillment and distribution industry should be, and is, paying special attention.

What Is Twitter and Why Do Fulfillment Houses Care?

Think of Twitter as a combination between text messaging and blogging. Users post short messages via cell phone or online, and then other people can read them from their cell phones or computers. The posts are called "tweets" and signing up to receive someones posts is called "following."

Many people use Twitter to update people on what theyre doing at any given time. This can be overdone for certain users, in that chances are no one really cares too much. Of course, if President Obama is the one tweeting, maybe its worth a follow.

Fulfillment and distribution companies do not need to make friends, but do need to communicate instantly and rapidly with many people in many places. A fulfillment house may have a truck driver on the road in Alabama, a plane in the sky over Canada, and a customer complaining in France--all at the same time.

A fulfillment house with a Twitter account suddenly has a way to communicate with all of those people, all at once.

Interesting idea, no?

Fulfillment Centers Looking at Business Versions of Twitter Technology

Of course, a fulfillment center, or any other business for that matter, does not necessarily want to disseminate all information to all people at all times. Certain information should remain private, or go to only selected recipients at selected time.

To help manage some of these complexities, business applications based on Twitter-like technology are cropping up. One example of this is a service called Yammer, which allows a company to essentially create a private Twitter network within a company, with specified users instead of the whole world having access.

It is easy to see how solid implementation of this communications tool could enable a fulfillment house to operate more efficiently. However, it appears that most fulfillment centers are in the watching and waiting stage on this technology.

A few brave souls are giving it a go, but mass adoption has not yet occurred.

One Little Problem: Fulfillment Already Has Its Fill of Technology

One major reason, perhaps, why fulfillment houses are not singing the praises of Twitter quite as loudly as the mainstream consumer press is that fulfillment houses are already heavy users of communications technology.

Some of these systems are elaborate, and including Twitter into the mix may cause some confusion at first. If drivers are accustomed to corresponding with headquarters via direct text message, for example, allowing multiple sources to "tweet" to the same cell phone may take some getting used to.

There is, in other words, even now, such a thing as too much information.


New York Times

Practical E-Commerce

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