I remember in the early to mid-1980s when fax machines were introduced, everyone was still entranced by their answering machines. Then in the late 1980s, as we were becoming adjusted to fax machines, the personal computer emerged on the scene. Now in the 1990s I am trying to explain why the need to keep up with the latest technology is so important. The 1990s are being shaped by lasers hidden in everything from CD-ROMs to fiber optic communications. (Stormy, that one is for you). The result has been an access revolution in which the Internet now occupies center stage. The Internet brings us the World Wide Web where consumers can meet the window coverings industry head on, and on an even playing field.
On-line shopping will become available in the next decade to a growing portion of the population. But this does not mean we will become house-bound shopping potatoes. In fact, the ability to shop electronically will encourage -- not discourage -- trips to the store. The more we shop on-line, the more we also want to visit stores and actually test and feel the quality of the merchandise we desire. Yet there will be some shopping surprises in cyberspace. Look for new "retailers" and new products. Those who are willing to be more progressive about accepting these changes will be more successful. The Internet, along with digital technology, will definitely change the face of retailing in the first decade of the next century.
With new technology comes rapid changes to our lifestyles. In 1997, we will continue to see shop-at-home escalate at a fast pace to meet consumers' demand for convenience. Scott Fawcett, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Springs Window Fashions, confirms this in our Outlook '97 section beginning on page 44. "Shop-at-home presentations perfect that concept by bringing actual samples directly into the home. Although new technology such as CD-ROM catalogs are helpful, people will need to review removable sample decks for color and texture in their home's natural environment," he says. Take a few minutes to carefully consider how Fawcett and other top executives predict consumer trends will impact the window coverings industry in 1997 and beyond.