With UPS handling logistics, mobile device accessory retailer Cellairis can focus on growth.
While still in college in the late 1990s, twins Jaime (above, left) and Joseph Brown (right), and Taki Skouras (middle) spotted an opportunity in the growing cellphone market: the demand for cases, screen protectors, headphones and chargers. In 2000 they pooled their resources, moved to Alpharetta, Ga., and opened a cellphone accessory store in a mall. Cellairis was born.
UPS has helped Cellairis streamline a complex logistics system.
Today Cellairis is the world's largest wireless accessory franchise, with close to 1,000 franchises in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Cellairis shipping process is complex, with products developed in Georgia, manufactured at more than 25 locations in Asia and 10 locations in the U.S., warehoused in a Georgia distribution center and shipped to franchisees and customers worldwide.
There's little room for error. "If we miss one day of orders and products are not available, it can cost the franchisee both dollars and customers, and damage the brand," says Skouras, the company's CEO.
Looking for answers
The company has relied on UPS for domestic shipping since 2009 but was using a mix of vendors to manage international shipping and freight. Cellairis reached out to UPS for help in improving logistics and cutting costs. UPS recommended a whiteboard session in order to evaluate the company's supply chain and identify more efficient shipping.
"UPS basically dissected our company to learn our business, to really understand it," Skouras says.
Shelby Jackson Fox, a UPS area sales manager, says: "We listened to them, asked a litany of questions and mapped their supply chain." With that information, UPS detailed 19 logistics improvements that would cut costs and improve processes for Cellairis. On the list? Retooling the global supply chain, optimizing warehouse operations and managing international transportation.
Passing the test
Cellairis wanted to try out the new processes. It tested UPS's performance with a critical order for a national retailer – one where a late delivery or a misplaced pallet could cost Cellairis up to seven figures.
UPS dispatched a team to Cellairis' factory in China and trained workers to meet the retailer's exacting shipping specifications.
On a Friday, UPS picked up 19 pallets in China. The UPS Worldwide Express Freight® shipment reached the retailer's warehouse in time for Monday distribution to 2,200 stores. With UPS tracking technology, Cellairis monitored the shipment the entire way.
"UPS pulled it off without one error," Skouras says.
A few weeks later, Cellairis tested UPS again. UPS Worldwide Express Freight, a door-to-door service for palletized shipments of more than 150 pounds, shipped 30 Cellairis pallets – a load that would challenge the capabilities of many air freight shippers. After that shipment rolled in right on time, Cellairis handed over international shipping to UPS.
Saving time, saving money
UPS Worldwide Express Freight was just one of many changes UPS implemented for Cellairis. The end result of those changes? Estimated annual savings of more than 5,000 hours and $500,000. A supply chain redesign alone led to savings of more than 15 percent on shipments.
"We're good at creating wireless accessories. UPS is good at getting them where they need to go," Skouras says. "When it comes to shipping, I trust UPS more than I trust myself."
Cellairis wants to focus its attention on growth, both in the U.S. and overseas – it has its sights set on locations in Chile, Mexico and Australia.
"UPS will be a big part of our international expansion," Skouras says. "A year ago, I thought UPS was just a shipping company. Today I think of UPS as a strategic partner, making our whole business more efficient."