Taking it in
Carole Sloan, founding editor-in-chief -- Home Textiles Today, 12/24/2001 12:00:00 AM
This column typically is a recap of the year's events and one so-called sage's look forward to the new year.
It's kind of fun to take a quiet look back and pontificate on the events of the year — and even be so brash as to predict some of the future.
This year, however, it's totally different.
It was the year that the landscape of the home textiles marketplace changed virtually completely.
And the changes were not the aftermath of Sept. 11. The process began in 2000 and accelerated at a breakneck pace throughout the year.
The big news of the year was a combination of the economy taking a nosedive, the marketplace, both suppliers and retailers, embracing the outsourcing concept and the new dynamics of retailing economics. The latter not just a home textiles phenomenon but across all product lines as retailers designed newer and more creative ways to get suppliers to pay for running their businesses.
The economy caused many in high places of power enormous angst, which manifested itself as a slash-and-burn attack on the problem, which in many cases did little to relieve the problem. One drawback was that few in the high places had ever previously dealt with bad times, and as one senior manager after another did the chopping thing, the others all thought it was the road to follow.
On a parallel path with the economy was the rapid intensification of outsourcing in places that many in the marketplace had paid little attention to in geography classes or later in life.
For many, this has been a trial-and-error situation; few have developed their own staffs to oversee what goes on in these countries, leaving the day-to-day operations to people who may not understand the nuances of the American business scene.
And as each home textiles company moved its interests offshore, the competition among them in those distant markets became more intense and the lines more blurred.
And then there is the new retailing — the era of reverse auctions, suppliers supporting distribution centers and IT software programs, new forecasting and the like.
But that's this year's litany.
Let's hope that 2002 will see some steadying of the changes as everyone digests what happened this year.
Hope we all have a great 2002.
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