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A New Way of Doing Business

"More than a few suppliers now have awakened to the potential that the non-Walmart genre of retailer is offering."

TALKING WITH WHAT FINALLY seemed to be scadillions of home textiles suppliers about their relationships with the internet - and concurrently with the growing numbers of non-Top 15 retailers who have become accounts - it became obvious that there are some major changes taking place in home textiles world.
     More than a few suppliers now have awakened to the potential that the non-Walmart genre of retailer is offering - both in terms of new sales volume opportunities as well as profits. More to the point, they see these brickand- mortar retailers and dot-com folks as a being strong business partners for a long time to come - albeit perhaps representing just small volume at this juncture. For many, it's low hanging fruit, waiting to be harvested.
     One aspect of this duo of opportunities - the internet and the supplier-direct involvement with this business phenomenon - seems to have many flummoxed. "Should we or shouldn't we" seems to be the critical question. Most suppliers are passionately fearful of upsetting the folks at the big boy conventional retailers. But little by little, in private, off the record conversations it seems that there are paths out of this dilemma.
     What makes it even more interesting is how this also is impacting the way suppliers look at product distribution. For some actively seeking non-Top 15 retailers as their sole targets, there are many avenues to pursue.
     In many cases, being able to offer small quantity purchases from a U.S.-based distribution center - company owned or at an outside facility - is key. For others, being able to offer regular goods from current lines is even more critical. The latter scenario oft times revolves around geographically segmenting the country so there is no - or little - competitive overlap by style or price point.
     As suppliers are beginning to see, regional or local retailers are able to do automatically what the big guys are now just rediscovering. For further examples - think My Macy's.
     All in all, what appears to be a growing awareness on the part of suppliers - and a major interest in expanding their involvement in these changes - bodes nothing but positive down the road. Let's hope that road - and the time frame - are short.

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