Shipping Made Easy

Press enter to search
Close search
Open Menu

Shipping Made Easy

By Alliston Ackerman - 02/01/2006

With a unique mesh venting system, Windbrella's umbrellas save consumers from experiencing the dreaded inverted umbrella scenario when winds and rain come on strong. But while its patent-pending umbrella design is touted as being unique and innovative, Windbrella's original supply chain operation was anything but. No matter if its umbrellas were ready for customer delivery or required future customization, Windbrella sent all of its products -- sold to golf and pro shops, retail outlets and direct marketers -- from the point of manufacture in Hong Kong to its headquarters in Boynton Beach, Florida. There, everything was done under one roof, including the customization of merchandise, an extensive warehouse operation and shipping processes -- both import and domestic U.S. distribution. Upon receipt from Hong Kong, umbrellas that were special ordered had to be repackaged and resent quite often back to the West Coast. All this was reason enough for finding an alternative supply chain solution.

better Trade and Transport

Windbrella, already a UPS for package delivery customer, sought trade and transport refuge in UPS Supply Chain Solutions. Before making UPS its sole supplier, Windbrella used another freight forwarder for its transactional freight needs. Today, the company uses both ocean and air freight services provided by UPS Supply Chain Solutions, as well as the new UPS Trade Direct service -- a service that combines package delivery with the order fulfillment and customs clearance services provided by UPS.

"I am really grateful that UPS came up with Trade Direct, no one else has been able to pull it together," says Windbrella President Glen Kupferman. UPS Trade Direct moves goods directly from international factories through customs to multiple locations in the United States or Europe, eliminating the need for warehouse stops.

In the case of Windbrella, individual orders are labeled for final destination before leaving the manufacturer. The individual orders are then consolidated into one shipment for transportation from Hong Kong -- either by ocean or air. They then clear customs as one shipment. When the shipment arrives at the UPS Supply Chain Solutions hub in California, it is deconsolidated and put into the UPS package delivery network for final delivery.

In addition, the company has full visibility of the shipments from Hong Kong to final destination provided by the Flex Global View, the UPS technology tool that provides integrated supply chain event management and global visibility capabilities. It is both proactive (with automatically generated e-mails) and reactive (with comprehensive reports and analytic tools). The tool provides detailed information on shipments in transit (any mode), shipments in customs, warehousing and inventory, and purchase order activity.

"Although the system is relatively new and needs some fine-tuning, the ability to know where everything is from the time it hits the dock is very important to us and ultimately to our customers," says Kupferman.

No More Headaches

The savings are both in travel time and expense. "This has been a God-send," says Kupferman, who no longer has to worry about how merchandise will arrive, if it will be held up in customs and what carrier is retained. "All I care about is that it gets to me."

On average, shipment times are cut in half or better -- 12 to 14 days are saved when the shipments go to California rather than through Florida for redistribution. In addition, the company saves on customs clearance time as well as warehousing costs.

Today, about 90 percent of all Windbrella freight is handled by UPS, and about 80 percent of all the air freight is shipped directly to the customer as part of the Trade Direct Program. The ability to use air is especially important to Windbrella when schedules are tight and orders must be delivered are needed in less than the average of 60 days.

"What UPS has afforded me is flow of merchandise. I don't have to over stock, it helps us manage inventory and eliminates some of the spikes," says Kupferman. "I no longer have the headaches."