• Mary Burritt

California Umbrella creates website just for designers, retailers

Faster product turnaround results from orders going immediately into production process.

JURUPA VALLEY, Calif. -- California Umbrella’s new website exclusively for designers and retailers delivers products within two and a half weeks of order placement, instead of the previous four to six week turnaround, and in less than 24 hours for most express products.

What has been in beta testing for four months is now ready to go live, with 1,500-plus designers and retailers receiving registration invitations this month. Registrations and order will be available at Casual Market Chicago next month, said Bryan Sanches, vice president of sales and marketing for California Umbrella.

“You have to be a designer or a retailer to have an account” on the website, Sanches said. Others can browse through choices but cannot see pricing or place an order.

Having an account “allows you to build (a custom product), see the price and place an order that goes right into our production stream. As soon as you hit submit on an order, our system is already acting on it within 15 minutes.”

No faxing, no transferring paperwork desk to desk.

“The bigger picture here is we see the traditional product stocking model going away at some point in the near future. This is our tool for a dealer and a way for the dealer to connect the order straight into the production system.”

Sanches, who joined California Umbrella nine years ago, said he began working on finding and implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software 18 months ago.

“I wanted to build our company into a supplier ready for a new retail environment,” Sanches explained. “This gives this industry a way to buy differently and a way to buy better. Last year, before we were operating in this ecosystem, we were four to six weeks out on most of our cut-and-sew product. If you faxed me an order, it had to be received and typed into the system. If we have a large volume, only so many can get put in a day,” and then some fabrics might be out of stock.

“It was a pain point,” Sanches said.

Now, he says, “99.8% of orders for our express product have gone out within 24 hours.”

That’s due to the new website and California Umbrella’s commitment to having its most popular fabrics and umbrellas in stock all the time.

“We think as far as our exposure to specialty retail, we have lots of room to grow,” Sanches said. “We think this website will be a good answer to the question, ‘Why should I do business with your company?’ The experience will be better and more efficient.”

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