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Consider the Interior Designer

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, April 7, 2008

With the start of the semi-annual pilgrimage — aka the High Point Market — that begins today, we are hearing more and more home textiles suppliers discussing new ways of selling their products.

Of course, for those home textiles folks showing down in High Point, it's obvious that furniture retailers are front and center in their game plans. This is good, for it brings another level of expertise to the marketplace.

But what is even more interesting is the attention being paid to interior designers. More than one company executive has mentioned that the expression "interior designer" is no longer considered an expletive. And company after company is featuring specially designed product and marketing programs dedicated to this segment of the home furnishings business.

Some textiles-producing companies are even fashioning marketing programs specifically to the information and product needs of this community. Among those are DreamFit, which is hosting a special product seminar during High Point for this professional group that has a singularly personal relationship with their consumer clients.

There are uncounted scadillions of interior designers across this country, some registered with national organizations, others working out of their homes, garages or cellphones. And this industry has been singularly reticent about embracing their purchasing power. That power is a direct sale to a specific Mrs. Jones.

As the internet slowly but surely increases the way home textiles retailing is being done, the suppliers to this channel are finding that they have additional opportunities in other channels such as specialty stores, interior designers and furniture stores.

It's the onesie, twosie syndrome that has so many suppliers buffaloed. But it truly is a self-inflicted problem that can be solved without the assistance of high-priced MBAs.

Anyone who is selling though catalogs — let alone the purveyors of major direct businesses such as those operated by JCPenney or Macy's — already has the basics of that process in place. Those direct businesses require different, multi-pack parameters than their retail counterparts where single items are the on-the-shelf presentation.

As the retailing arena becomes ever more challenging, the victories will go to those suppliers able to adapt to the needs of today's retailing marketplace, and not hark back to what once was.

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