By 2002, their membership, which was composed mainly of those holding their primary certification offering, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), was half again what it was prior to 9/11. They were on track to reach 12,000 members, and would double again by 2004. These increases were putting increased demands on their membership services staff, and their members were increasingly asking for ways to display their hard-earned certification.
Further, (ISC)²'s ever-increasing prominence in the IT community required that they appear in more and more industry trade shows, seminars, and other events. All of these "good problems to have" taxed the small staff of (ISC)² beyond their internal capabilities, as well as available office space (limited) and warehouse space (none).
We started with a member store
Enter AKD. We were initially asked to quote on a simple "company store" arrangement, which was launched late in 2002 with a handful of products - lapel pins, a shirt available in one color, mousepads, coffee mugs, and some free luggage tags that (ISC)² shipped to us with the instruction to give them away with each order.
The lapel pins are worth mentioning because they were a seemingly small, but critical problem for (ISC)². (ISC)² was sending lapel pins to new members with their certificate, and the lapel pins were getting bent up in the mail and, even worse, sometimes scratched or tore the new member's certificate! But since the (ISC)² store was established, a new member receives a coupon which entitles him or her to go to the (ISC)² Store and receive a lapel pin. If they don't purchase any other items, their lapel pin will be mailed to them anywhere in the world at no charge to them. While (ISC)² pays more per lapel pin redemption than they did per pin purchased, only about 30% of their membership requests their pin, so they are offering a better product to any member who wants one while saving money on the overall cost of the program.
Within hours of launching the site we had our first order - for 5 of the free luggage tags. We mailed the guy his luggage tags and started to work on improving the site. We've been improving it ever since. The store now carries 10 shirt styles for men and women, several imprinted products like mugs, candy jars, leather binders, and other desk accessories, as well as books to help prospective members study for (ISC)² certifications - over 70 SKUs in all.
"It's been really great to have these guys handling the store for us. They've been very flexible about setting up new shirt styles and even special-order items for members who have some of the newer certifications, like our ISSEP concentration. They manage the inventory, interact with the members for us, handle returns and any hassles that come up - we don't have to touch it. They even send us leads from people who find their site instead of ours and want information about training! And we even get a bit of revenue back because our volume with them is so high," said Thompson.
As the certifications offered have expanded to include about half a dozen distinct certifications or "concentrations" which build on the CISSP certification model, the product offerings have expanded with them. The embroidered products on the store are now offered with most of those certification marks. AKD's in-house embroidery capabilities allow us to produce custom products in a matter of days.
Unique products tailored to membership requirements
Additionally, what better idea for a store built around certifications than to offer ways to put the certificates on the member's wall? AKD now offers replica plaques of the CISSP certificate and a program where any (ISC)² certificate can be laminated and mounted on a base for hanging on the wall - without the member mailing us his or her original! (ISC)² works with us to produce duplicate certificates, which are processed and sent directly to the member.
The first "I" in (ISC)² stands for International, and our shipments have lived up to this. With offices in London, Tokyo, and other major international cities, their membership is truly worldwide. We ship international packages by UPS and by Fedex daily. We've developed a great deal of proficiency in getting packages overseas and through customs on time and as economically as possible.
We've been able to do all this for (ISC)² because we bring together several key capabilies which combine to make us the perfect outsourcing partner for your fulfillment services needs:
We can provide the same solutions for your business or organization. Please contact us for a no-obligation proposal.