Want an Order? Ask for It!

Carole Sloan, July 17, 2006

Now that the numbers crunching for the latest installment of Home Textiles Today's Top 50 Retail Giants is done, the big news is that there was no real big news. Most all of the expected players wound up as anticipated.

The big change was the difference in the reporting of the Federated and May businesses that formerly accounted for 10 slots on the Top 50. With all the restructuring and reconfiguring that took place on 2005, the clearest path for this edition of the Top 50 was a combination of each corporation's divisions to the point of merger completion, then a combination of the five-month numbers for the new entity.

As a result, the news of significant import was the addition of a number of players that most folks out there in the supplier world barely acknowledge – must less solicit for business. And that's where this year's Top 50 may be an eye opener to a number of chief executive officers who might ask their sales mavens – why don't we sell so and so?

It's a situation that reminds me of a series of small market dinners hosted by our sister publication Furniture/Today well more than a decade ago for heads of retailing companies and manufacturers in the furniture business.

Almost inevitably, a ceo of a furniture company would ask a retail ceo counterpart why his company wasn't doing business with them. Too often, the response would be because the sales execs didn't call on them. So the merchants went elsewhere to buy. There were so many suppliers to pick and choose from, and so little differentiation, that it truly didn't matter. WOW!

But is that any different from the way buying is done in a home textiles world where the focus is primarily on price?

Amazingly, this kind of attitude still holds true today in the home textiles world. Among those earlier on the lower rungs of the Top 50 and those joining or soon to join, the comments about certain suppliers is that they are not solicited – so they don't feel welcome. After all, the supplier base is constantly increasing. And a lot of these companies have really good credit – an attribute that should bring warm and fuzzy feelings to ceos and cfos alike.

Some of the Top 50 newbies are direct-to-consumer, others are smaller store operations, and there are those that are a blend of both.

It will be interesting to see how many of the newbies on the list get calls from the marketplace. They're buying their stuff somewhere.

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See the May 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we discuss our annual Market Basket survey, which finds higher prices and more polyester at leading retailers. See details!