November 12, 2010, 1:03 PM

Digital signatures lead to more custom shirt orders for Pearl Izumi

The maker of bicycle racing gear relaunches a line it abandoned in 2001.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Giving customers the chance to sign digitally for custom shirt orders has enabled Pearl Izumi USA Inc., a manufacturer and online retailer of bicycle racing gear, to relaunch a product line abandoned almost a decade ago because of low profits.

The company requires customers who want personalized or special gear—say, for a specific race or charity event that call for specific colors, fabrics and designs—to sign a contract because creating that apparel takes up more time and resources. Customers had to sign and fax the four- to five-page contracts back to Pearl, along with associated artwork, creating hassles for consumers, says Mike Regan, custom sales manager for Pearl Izumi.

Though the company had earned as much as $15 million annually through custom work, profits were slim because of the costs of producing and marketing the products, he says. So Pearl discontinued the line in 2001. About two years ago, the company started to consider bringing it back after it learned it could have customers digitally sign for the custom work.

Pearl decided to use digital signature technology from EchoSign—but only after the apparel company’s in-house legal team signed off on the offering, a process that took about six months, Regan says. The company can e-mail contracts and related documents to customers. Customers can click boxes next to marked paragraphs in the contract to approve specific conditions of the custom-order agreement. Customers also can type their names for signatures. A consumer also can use a mouse to move the cursor over the documents to produce a signature, Regan says.

“Customers love it. They are excited they can get it done so quickly,” he says. “Most of documents come back to us in 15 minutes as opposed to four or five days. Profit is not a problem anymore.”

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