Letter From the Editor: New Age

The world we once knew is gone. Now it’s time to find the silver lining in the new one.

Smart companies are taking this time to reassess and revamp. With business at a low point, they are reviewing everything from product to people. This is a unique chance for manufacturers to redirect resources to boost product quality and customer service for their retail accounts. Declining store traffic allows retailers to spend more time delivering the kind of customer experience that engenders loyalty.

This is also a time when the critical relationship between the two sides can be improved. Last fall, there was a lot of finger-pointing. Wholesalers felt that many retailers went on sale too quickly and went too far with price-cutting. Many retailers said wholesalers didn’t deliver the right kind of product for a troubled retail environment.

Moving forward, wholesale and retail have to learn to play nice. At the end of the day, both sides need to realize that the meltdown was the result of negative forces that came together in an unsettling way. It doesn’t help to demonize. In fact, the current state of retail presents a unique chance for retailers and wholesalers to rebuild their often-troubled relationship. Neither can survive without the other. It’s time to start from scratch with realistic partnership goals that acknowledge the specific challenges each side faces moving forward.

Of course, this is easier said than done. The painful elements of this downturn are not pretty. It isn’t fun to lay off people and watch companies go bankrupt. But if we focus on the bigger picture, it’s clear that the current economy will serve as a giant filter, taking out those brands lacking enough traction, hobbling the companies that don’t have the means to survive a prolonged downturn and removing stores that contributed to an overabundance of retail space.

Once the decks are cleared, the savvy survivors will have a better shot at grabbing market share. Those with a real purpose, a healthy balance sheet and the guts to take a few calculated chances will be able to position themselves for what will inevitably be a buoyant recovery.

There is a silver lining if you know how to find it.


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