Since its inception more than 50 years ago, Pearl Izumi USA, Inc. has evolved into a well respected line of technical-performing and quality manufactured sports apparel. The name Pearl Izumi USA, Inc. is derived from the gem "pearl" and an area of Japan known for its clear water, "Izumi." Literally translated, the company’s name means, "fountain of pearls." Based in Colorado, the line has been distributed in the United States since 1981.
Nearly eight years ago Pearl Izumi Inc. shut down its custom clothing business because it was not meeting profit targets. Today, new services available online are making it possible for the company to revive a proven revenue-generating business, only this time with the expectation that the profit margins are in line with corporate strategy. Mike Regan, business manager for personalized gear at Pearl Izumi, says that before getting axed in 2001, the custom clothing unit brought in $12-15 million annually. But the overhead in labor and technology for the necessary sales processes was "too cumbersome," he says.
The business was in desperate need of automation in order to get a handle on the complexity, Regan recalls. But it would not have been possible without a huge IT investment at the time. According to Regan, to make the high-end customization business unit a success he needed online services that are "highly knucklehead resistant." He describes his market as comprised of users -- largely bike shop owners -- lacking sophisticated computer technical skills and short on patience. "I wanted the lowest common denominator for customers," he says.
Regan found his "knucklehead-resistant" solutions in EchoSign and its partner, Box.net. EchoSign’s electronic signature solution automates the entire signature process from the request for signature to the final distribution and filing of the executed agreement or form. Box.net provides online content management services for companies ranging in size from small businesses to large enterprises.
Pearl Izumi's customers can collaborate with apparel sales and design staff to select everything from the garment's fabric and features to quantities and prices. Then EchoSign attaches the output from Box.net in a user-friendly signature-processing service. Now, it only takes a few minutes for customers to learn how to make and close custom-apparel orders and a few more minutes to sign the contract. "It couldn't be simpler," Regan says.
"We had been using Echosign very successfully with our customers, in our custom business,” explains Regan. “Then, our legal department asked us to suspend usage of EchoSign so they could have a chance to evaluate the product.
“We were forced to go back to faxing contracts, and many of my customers, used to using EchoSign, started complaining because they missed it. This compelled our legal department to finish their evaluation quickly,” says Regan. Now that the EchoSign solution has been reinstated, Pearl Izumi and its customers are happy to be back to business as usual.