In interior fashions the trends in colors, fabrics, designs and styles move nearly as quickly—seasonally at the very least, and months in advance of actual calendar dates. The frontrunners in interior design had better be knee-deep into their spring 2001 collections by now if they don't want to be left behind or considered Johnny-come-latelies.
The retail environment in which these products are sold, however, too often appears to be ignorant of these consumer trends and how they effect a store's product mix and target customers. Sure, it's easy enough to stock the latest products, collections and sampling from your suppliers' reps. They'd be more than happy to supply them to you at normal costs. But what do your customers really want?
Designer Albert Sardelli at Waverly says homes are not the place to live with cutting-edge design trends. He says people prefer to surround themselves with the colors and styles they love (see Market Trends). In this month's Business Management column, Tom Shay uses the example of a custom window treatment and interior fashions retailer who opened for business 10 years ago with a clear understanding of where the store needed to be located and what products it needed to offer. Good enough. But Shay points out that a lot of customers and product lines have come and gone over those 10 years and any business failing to keep track of these changes is trying to sell outdated products to a clientele that's no longer shopping there.
The sex, age range, neighborhood, product and average sale amount of each of your customers is important information to the success of your business. That information doesn't have to be difficult or expensive to track. In fact, in this month's Smart Selling column, Linda W. Lee shows how this process can begin during the initial contact with a prospect, and even over the telephone before a customer sets foot in your store.
The latest trend in retailing, it turns out, is keeping up-to-date on trends.