Introduction to QuickFill

In this section we explain some of the basic concepts that QuickFill uses. This will help you understand the terminology used elsewhere in the documentation.

Click here for a description of the new features in this release.

Subscriptions

The first time a customer orders a subscription, QuickFill calls that a "new order". Some time before that subscription expires QuickFill will start creating renewal notices that you can send to the customer to tell him that his subscription is about to expire. If the customer agrees to extend his subscription, QuickFill calls that a "renewal order".

It is important to keep the concept of new and renewal orders separate. Many publishers price new orders substantially lower than renewal orders. For that reason, when you enter an order into QuickFill you use completely separate screens for entering new orders and for renewal orders. This is so that QuickFill can figure out how the order should be priced.

Expiration dates

QuickFill automatically calculates expiration dates for you. It does not expect you to figure out when a subscription expires. Instead you tell QuickFill when a subscription should start and how many issues the customer ordered. From that information QuickFill will decide when the subscription will end.  Similarly, if a customer sends you a renewal order for his subscription, QuickFill will automatically push the expiration date back by the number of issues ordered in the renewal.

Issue dates

In order to calculate expiration dates QuickFill needs to know how many issues are published each year. A classical magazine might be published once a month, twelve times a year, but many publication schedules are more complex than that.  To tell QuickFill about your publication schedule you need to set up an issue table. Do this on the 'Issues' definition screen which can be found by selecting 'Issues' from the 'Definitions' menu.

Current issue pointer

In the issue table there is a pointer to one issue which is designated as the “current issue”. This is usually the issue that was mailed most recently. When you are ready to mail the next issue you move the current issue pointer forward to the next issue.

Mailing issues

When you are ready to mail an issue, set the current issue pointer in the issue table to the issue you are about to mail. Then run the ‘Issue Labels’ update. QuickFill will scan the subscriptions and produce a mailing label for every active subscription that has not already received the current issue. If, instead of mailing labels what you want is a file to send to your print shop, that is easily done using the QuickFill label splitter.

Back issues

Sometimes subscribers miss a few issues because they renewed late. Depending on your publication policy you may want QuickFill to produce mailing labels for back issues as well as for the current issue so that these late renewers can be caught up. When you set up your publication you get to specify what the back issue policy is.

Publication setup

On the 'Publications' definition screen you can specify many of the policies that control how the publication is handled. On this screen you specify the full name of the publication, the code name by which it is known in QuickFill, the number of issues published each year, back issue policies, shipping policies and many other things. To set up your publication select ‘Publications’ from the ‘Definitions’ menu.

Bills

If you accept unpaid orders (also known as “bill-me” orders) QuickFill can produce bills that you mail to the subscriber to request payment. A "billing series" controls the timing of the bills and tells QuickFill how long to wait for the payment before you stop sending issues to the subscriber. For gift subscriptions you can also specify whether each bill should be sent to the donor or to the gift recipient. Bills are produced when you run the ‘Billing’ update. The 'Billing series' definition screen can be found by selecting ‘Billing’ then ‘Billing series’ from the ‘Definitions’ menu.

Renewal notices

Renewal notices are the mail pieces that you send to the subscriber when his subscription is nearing expiration. Some people think of these as “bills”, but to QuickFill a bill is something else (see above). The renewal series tells QuickFill how many issues should remain when the first renewal notice is mailed, the total number of renewal notices that should be sent and the length of the intervals between them. Renewal notices are produced when you run the ‘Renewal’ update. They can also be produced when you run the ‘Issue labels’ update if all of the renewal notices in your series are synchronized to the mailing of issues. The 'Renewal series' definition screen can be found by selecting ‘Renewal’ then ‘Renewal series’ from the ‘Definitions’ menu.

Order numbers

Every time you enter an order QuickFill assigns a number to it. Using an order number is the fastest way to locate a subscription in the database. You simply enter the number on the “Lookup” screen in the “QuickFill number” field and click Find. The numbers that QuickFill assigns include an extra digit that serves as a “check digit”. Using this check digit, QuickFill can tell if you accidentally miss-type a digit, or transpose two of the digits.

Customer numbers

QuickFill assigns numbers to customers as well as to orders. These too have check digits so that QuickFill can distinguish them from order numbers and can detect typing mistakes. Entering a customer number on the “Lookup” screen takes you directly to a screen that shows the customer’s address and a list of the subscriptions held by that customer. If you publish more than one publication and cross-promote those publications, you will find that customers often have subscriptions to more than one publication.

Entering new orders

To enter new orders you use the ‘New Orders’ transaction screen. You can find this screen on the Transactions menu. To enter a new order you will need the name and address of the subscriber, the code for the publication he or she is subscribing to (see “Publication setup” above), and another code that is known as the “tracking code”. See below for more information about tracking codes.

Entering renewal orders

To enter renewal orders you use the 'Renewals' transaction screen. You will need the number that was assigned by QuickFill to the prior order in the subscription. Typically, renewal orders are received in response to a renewal notice that was sent out when the subscription neared expiration, and the order number is printed on the renewal notice. Sometimes subscribers renew by phone and don’t have their renewal notice or order number at hand. In that case you can use the “lookup” feature of the renewal transaction to locate their subscription by name and address.

Batches

Most transactions are entered in batches to provide greater control, save keystrokes, and make it easier to locate paperwork later on. Before you enter your batch in QuickFill, you count the number of orders in the batch and total the dollar amount of those orders. You enter these totals on the “new order” transaction’s "batch header."

Now, as you enter each order, QuickFill displays a running total of the number of transactions and the dollar amounts you've entered. It then compares those totals with the numbers you entered originally in the header. When the totals match, QuickFill tells you that your batch is in balance and asks whether you want to post it. If you click "Post Now," it records the transactions into your database. If you come to the end of your stack of orders and the batch is not in balance, then you know that you made a mistake, perhaps by skipping an order.

Credit card payments

You can handle credit card payments in QuickFill either externally or internally. Processing credit card payments internally through QuickFill saves time and has the advantage of immediate feedback. You know right away whether the charge was accepted or denied. To process credit card payments through QuickFill you must establish an account with Vantiv Integrated Payments (formerly Element Payment Services - EPS). Click here for more information about VIP and credit card processing in QuickFill.

Processing credit cards externally is a three step process. First you must pre-calculate the amount to be charged. This will be simple if your subscriptions have a straight forward pricing scheme, but may be complicated if you are testing different promotional prices or have to add sales tax and/or shipping charges. The second step is to enter the credit card number and charge amount into a terminal provided by your bank or credit card processor. The third and final step is to enter the details of the order into QuickFill, including the credit card type, the last four digits of the card number and the amount charged.

Tracking codes

A tracking code is a code that specifies what the terms of the subscription offer are, such as the number of issues and the price, and also lets your circulation manager know where this order came from.  For traditional marketing pieces, such as magazine inserts or direct mail offers, the tracking code is printed somewhere on the card that the new subscriber sends in. For telephone or internet orders you may ask the subscriber how they heard about you and assign a tracking code accordingly. Use the ‘Tracking Codes’ definition screen to tell QuickFill about your tracking codes. You can find this screen on the ‘Definitions’ menu by selecting ‘Marketing’ followed by ‘Tracking codes’.

Renewal effort codes

A renewal effort code is similar to a tracking code, but is used in the context of renewal orders instead of new orders. It identifies the source of a renewal order. Most renewal orders are produced in response to a renewal notice that you mail to the subscriber. Your renewal series definition screen will list the renewal effort codes. Say your renewal series contains two efforts that are mailed separately, plus one cover wrap for the final issue before expiration. You might assign the renewal effort code “REN1” and “REN2” for the first two efforts and “WRAP” for the cover wrap.

Offers

An offer definition is what you use to tell QuickFill how your subscriptions are priced. For example, you may offer new subscribers a one year subscription for a promotional price of $30 and a two year subscription for $50. On the other hand you may offer renewal subscribers one year for $60 and two years for $100. For this scheme you would define four offers in QuickFill. The first two would be linked to your tracking codes, for use when entering new orders, while the last two would be linked to your renewal effort codes, for use when entering renewal orders.  Use the ‘Offers’ definition screen to tell QuickFill about your offers. You can find this screen on the ‘Definitions’ menu by selecting either ‘Marketing’ or ‘Renewal’ followed by ‘Offers’.