Veratex ups service with 'EDI' system

Marvin Lazaro, Carole Sloan, April 10, 2001

NEW YORK — The introduction of a new online computer system by Veratex Inc. may not only herald a new era of EDI-like technology for small and large businesses alike, but it will also help to reward a number of retailers for their long-standing loyalty to the company.

The Panorama City, CA-based home textiles company unveiled the new online system during spring market. It is aimed at helping the mom-and-pop and small specialty stores that were among Veratex's first customers almost a decade ago and helped build the company into what it is today. The system is in its final stages of development and will be officially unveiled in less than a month.

Avi Cohen, president, Veratex, believes that as much as $20 million in sales may be generated by the development of this new system.

"With this, we can take care of the small accounts in a way that no one else can," Cohen said emphatically.

Cohen and Dale Talbert, vp, sales, noted that the online ordering portion of the revamped website was meant for business-to-business only, not business-to-consumer.

First-time retail visitors to will enter their company information via an online form. After reviewing the application, either through research or, in rare cases, by having a representative visit with the retailer, Veratex will send the applicant a welcome e-mail and a credit application. After filling that out, the retailer will then receive a unique store code as well as their credit limit. As soon as the process is completed, which can take up to a week, the retailer may begin shopping on the website.

Ordering is done via another online form that will prompt the customer to enter the quantity desired after viewing the products. Detailed close-ups of products are available through an extremely-high-resolution process developed by Veratex's staff programmers. The UPC, style number and price are all generated by the site.

If a retailer goes over the credit limit set by Veratex, an automatic notice will be generated notifying them that the order cannot be fulfilled and that a Veratex representative will contact them.

Once the order is approved, customers will also be able to track their order to see where it is, whether it is in production, en route, etc.

Cohen said that since the process takes place completely online and is available 24 hours a day, small accounts are able to service themselves and fulfill their own needs with no paperwork and no visits from a product representative. The system will also generate the invoice and e-mail it to the retailer.

Another feature of the new revamped site will be notification of closeouts. Registered customers will receive an e-mail letting them know of the closeout. Instead of only bigger accounts being notified, all retailers will be told at the same time, giving everyone the same opportunity to take advantage.

The system will also be able to handle retailers with multiple stores. However, only one purchase order will be needed even though as few as three stores or as many as several dozen stores are involved in the order.

"This is not just a great sales tool, it's a great communications tool," said Talbert, who noted that further development could result in more rapid sales and information updates for Veratex reps who are on the road.

Cohen said the impetus behind the development was simple; everyone wants to be able to service the individual stores and smaller chains, but they simply don't have the resources to do so. The larger manufacturers, Cohen also felt, have forgotten what it takes to make a potential customer an actual one.

"This puts the little guys on equal footing with the bigger guys," Cohen said. "No other business in the industry makes the process this simple for everyone."

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