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Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Direct Tech, Inc.

Return on Inventory

By Joe Palzkill

About Joe

Joe is vice president of sales and business development at Direct Tech, Inc., a company which helps catalog and e-commerce retailers drive profitability, increase demand and optimize inventory investment by providing best-in-class applications and services. Joe is a member of Direct Tech’s seasoned management team, which has more than 150 years experience with demand planning, inventory optimization and merchandise planning in the multichannel retail industry. For more than two decades, Direct Tech’s applications and services have enabled leading multichannel brands to grow their businesses.

Joe is a 28-year veteran of the direct merchandising industry with hands-on experience in marketing, merchandising, inventory management and business development at multichannel retail companies including Lands’ End,, and Duluth Trading Company. At Direct Tech, Joe uses his experience to help customers and prospects understand how to improve sales and profits through applying industry best practices in merchandise planning and inventory management systems and processes.

Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
Benefit + Unique Sells
Apr 23, 2015

Are your catalog and products unique? Are they loaded with customer benefits? If "yes" to both, are you also telling...

Return on Intelligence

Jim Gilbert
How to Beat the 140-Character Limit on Twitter
Apr 21, 2015

A few weeks ago, Twitter made a major change to its user interface allowing marketers to break the barrier of the 140-character...

The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
Become Part of the Problem-Solving Business
Apr 17, 2015

A great fulfillment partner is one that can help business owners accomplish their goals by providing trust, excitement and new...


Stephen Lett
50 Best Tips for 2015
Feb 9, 2015

It's a new year and the Lett Direct team has put together "50 Best Tips for 2015" that will help you increase...

Shipping Insights

Rob Martinez
FedEx SmartPost to Raise Rates Again?
Mar 30, 2015

While FedEx SmartPost hasn't made any public announcements as of this publication, select customers have received written notifications of a...

Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
If You Need More Darned Clutter on Your Site ...
Mar 27, 2015

You've probably heard this one before: When you're trying to get a visitor to your site, you should be screaming...

Retail Rants & Raves

Joe Keenan
Retail Jobs Not so Bad After All?
Oct 15, 2014

The National Retail Federation (NRF) today released a study authored by a University of Georgia economist who found that retail jobs...

Retail Revelations

Melissa Campanelli
When Email Snafus Happen to Good Companies
Nov 12, 2014

Say it ain't so! I was actually sad when I read in MarketWatch this week that Seattle-based online retailer Zulily’s...

Email Marketing Bites

Liz Ryan
The Email Hierarchy of Needs: Deliverability is the Foundation
Jun 18, 2014

If you're not getting the most of your email messaging, you might not be asking the right questions. How many...

Email Applied

Reggie  Brady
Subject Lines That Work
Jul 18, 2014

Standing out in the inbox isn't easy. A lot of promotional emails I receive have subject lines that aren't special....

ThinkAbout: Inspirational Verve for Your Product Line!

Andrea Syverson
Springboard From Your Brand Filter
Jun 26, 2014

One of the most important ways I strengthen my clients’ brands and product lines is by collaborating with their leaders...

B-to-B Insights

George Hague
2 Must-Have B-to-B Metrics
Apr 9, 2014

Smart CEOs know two essential B-to-B metrics to successfully grow their businesses: contribution per order (CPO) for new customers and...

Get Returns on Your Returns

With the advent of omnichannel retailing, the subject of customer returns has become a hot topic for retailers. The financial impact of returns has always been a factor for traditional retailers, but the evolution of customer-centric omnichannel retailing has pushed this issue to the forefront.  Read More >>

2015 Inventory Planning Wish List

Today, I'm heeding my own advice about conducting an annual process post-mortem, on a personal level. I've been reflecting on the businesses I've worked with this past year here at Direct Tech, and thinking about how my experiences with them will affect my own planning for the year ahead. In the course of that analysis, I've identified several issues that crop up repeatedly industrywide. I'd like to share them with you. So without further ado, here are the top five inventory planning process

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Year-End Inventory Post-Mortem Tips

With the importance of holiday sales for retailers, it's crucial that inventory management departments closely analyze the season just completed. Doing so will help you understand what did and didn't work — hard-won knowledge you can factor into your planning for next year. Here are five holiday post-mortem best practices used by Direct Tech customers that you can adopt to improve future performance:  Read More >>

Shoot While the Ducks Are in the Air

Bill End, avid outdoorsman and former CEO at L.L.Bean and Lands’ End, would frequently say, "We've got to shoot while the ducks are in the air." He was explaining the importance of aggressively marketing while consumers were naturally shopping, but the same adage applies to inventory planning and decision making. While there are many factors involved with successful holiday inventory planning, most of which would have been executed over the preceding 12 months or more, I want to focus on the

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Done is Better Than Perfect

I was reading an article about Facebook recently and took note of the social network's motto, "Done is better than perfect." That took me back a few years, specifically to Lands' End in the 90s. One of my boss' favorite sayings was, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good." Recognizing the shared genealogy in those two phrases, I spent a distracted 15 minutes looking at other variations of the theme.  Read More >>

How Product Profiling Increases Sales and Profits

An accepted best practice in inventory planning is to adhere to the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. For inventory planners, this is also often referred to as product profiling, or ABC profiling. This makes intuitive sense. It's natural to spend relatively more time in planning, analysis and management of the top-selling items, but what does it mean in financial terms?  Read More >>

Inventory Success Requires Systems, People and Process


Often, while working with Direct Tech's current and prospective customers, I'll hear the age-old question: "Can't the system just do that?" If only! On occasion, it really is that easy. Computer software is great for solving consistent, recurring tasks where the rules can be defined to yield repetitive answers. More often, however, the answer is "it depends." Merchandise and inventory planning is a combination of art and science. The science is programmable, but the art is a different

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The Importance of Seasonal Category Budgets

I recently participated in a strategic planning session with a major multichannel retailer's inventory planning professionals. The attendees represented various sales divisions of the company, and their combined expertise encompassed many years of inventory planning experience. Our top challenge: How to capture accurate sales data and effectively manage its impact on merchandise and inventory planning when providing a quality omnichannel customer experience?


Good Plans, Great Reactions

An underappreciated component to inventory planning excellence is careful alignment of the planning calendar to the timing of marketing activities. Easy to say, tough to do, and here's why.  Read More >>

Inventory Planning Advice From Mike Tyson

With so many demands on your time, it's tough to break away and attend any function, but the NEMOA Spring Conference is simply one of the best events of the year. More than 500 catalog and internet retail professionals gather to network and learn from each other. It's worth attending.  Read More >>

Don't Become a Flat Squirrel

We were privileged to hear from two outstanding keynote speakers at Direct Tech's annual user conference last week in sunny, warm Orlando. (Please forgive my sigh; I'm back home in Wisconsin, where the current temperature is -10°.) One of them, Elaine Beaubien, an award-winning educator, entrepreneur, and business management and training coach, shared her observations on "innovating to survive" in a rapidly changing environment.  Read More >>

Companies Mentioned:


Respect for Data Key to Inventory Planning

Until you have data audit processes in place to assure you have reliable information from which to plan, you can't trust the result. Building assortment plans, creating demand forecasts or making inventory decisions without first validating the accuracy of planning data is like building a house on a faulty foundation. You might get away with it for a short time, but one day it will come crashing down.  Read More >>

Are Your Bathrooms Clean?

While working at Lands’ End some years ago, I joined a tour of the company's facilities with a visiting investment analyst. At tour's end, the analyst said, "You may have wondered why I stopped at every bathroom along the way." Actually, I hadn't even noticed until he brought it up. He continued: "It's part of the analysis. In my experience, you can pretty much judge the quality of a company by the cleanliness of their bathrooms." His point was that well-run companies pay attention to

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HQ Content, Context and Field Truth in the Realm of Inventory Planning

I attended Learning 2013 earlier this month, hoping to gain insights on how we at Direct Tech can provide top-notch training to our software users. It was an impressive event with more than 170 sessions, a keynote speech by Hillary Clinton, interviews with thought leaders, and unique insights from the likes of Jane Pauley and George Takei. I came away from the conference with many pages of notes, but my most memorable "learning" came from someone who didn't speak a word: U.S. General Colin

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Companies Mentioned:

Safety Stock vs. Safety Time

Forecasted demand is always wrong, and not every supplier delivers on time.

I was reminded of these widely accepted truths of inventory planning while working with a prospective Direct Tech customer in Long Island a couple weeks ago.  The company's head of logistics was probing the capabilities of our tools, and we got into a 20-minute discussion on Safety Stock versus Safety Time.