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Letter to the editor

My father recently sent me an article that he pulled in 1990 while a Federated principal. It was written by Michael Belluomo, at the time the editor of Sportswear International. In it he lists 10 "retail rules for survival." It's amazing how true they still ring. It has a fashion apparel point of view but the thoughts are definitely expandable to our fashion industry as well.

  1. Never ignore the need to merchandise creatively. It is sharp, innovative merchandise that attracts consumers, and it has been bland, redundant merchandise that has turned them off.

  2. Appeal to your consumer's sense of taste. Develop merchandising concepts that are reflective of trends and lifestyle themes rather than tied to off-price promotions.

  3. Take responsibility for your own success. When your suppliers are at greater risk than you are, it means you are bound to fail because you lack the imperative to succeed.

  4. Never let private label constitute more than 20 percent of your business. Manufacturers are better at creating the innovative points of view and the variety a store needs than retailers. You need to recognize innovative trends, not manufacture them.

  5. Don't buy next season's inventory based on last season's results. Prior history is only useful if you are in the replenishment/commodity business.

  6. Develop pricing credibility in the minds of your consumers. A great majority of consumers have come to distrust apparel retailers. Consumers have been conditioned by retailers to suspect that today's price is not the real or fair price and that it will inevitably be lower tomorrow.

  7. Avoid an over-reliance on so-called key resources. It leads to lack of differentiation in terms of your competition and a lack of innovation when you're not discovering new resources.

  8. Build a buying structure based on the lifestyle of specific consumer groups as well as end use. Nurture buyers who can define who the consumer is and select merchandise the consumer will want. Get rid of buyers whose talents mostly lie in their ability to do spreadsheets or negotiate markdown and advertising allowances.

  9. Don't fashion hop. Decide which merchandise categories you want to be in and stay in them. Develop fashion credibility with your consumers, season in and season out.

  10. Think and plan strategically, not just tactically. A market's potential is more important than its past.

I found the relevance of the above fascinating.

Chris Mooney, vp, marketing/design, Avonhome

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