Milliken looks for merchandising edge with color blanket
By Cecile B. Corral -- Home Textiles Today, 8/6/2001 12:00:00 AM
LAGRANGE, GA —
When it comes to capitalizing on shrinking retail shelf space, Milliken Rugs' new color blanket has got the company covered, said Dane Owen, director, sales and marketing.
Milliken's new patent-pending color blanket, a runner-like 2' x 8' display piece, allows for up to six colorways of a design to fit on a single rug rack or hanger. On the blanket, samplings of each colorway with its respective identification number are featured. Each color blanket represents up to 54 skus — a combination of six colors and nine sizes per design. And, added Owen, every rug is available for shipment within seven days.
"The buyer looks at every arm as valuable real estate," explained Owen, during the color blanket's official introduction at last month's Atlanta International Area Rug Show. "We give them more choices on one arm."
For the past year, Sears featured the color blanket in all of its 556 stores nationwide as Milliken's test market for the product, said Marie Wagner, Sears buyer for decorator rugs.
"It's been very successful," Wagner said. "It shows the customer the true colors the rugs come in, and it saves [Milliken] money, which means it also saves us money and saves the customer money."
Wagner said another perk from the color blanket is that samples of rugs stay in the store. "Our sales people can't just give away our last samples to customers — then we never see those samples again," Wagner said.
The color blanket is being used as a sales method for Milliken's entire signature collection, which includes the company's top 50 rug designs — all machine-made here at Milliken's headquarters.
Aside from the color blanket, Milliken is also adding a new hang-tag size charts for the added convenience of customers.
"This no-name recession is perfect for the color blanket because it saves space and money for everyone," Owen said. "In times like these it's so easy to panic and design like crazy and go crazy with offerings. But if you can't do that efficiently and effectively, it isn't worth it. You need to know how to showcase what you do have and what works."
Owen isn't worried about potential copycats.
"If the competition wants to copy us, they'll have to keep an inventory of up to 54 skus per design, and not many people can do that," he said. "That's easy for us — but not for many people."
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