Thursday, July 19, 2007

Changing Times 

DMC's announcement of a new group of products it is selling retail from its site makes me pause to consider the question that often plagues designers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers; who should be selling to the end-use customer?

Designers used to sell virtually exclusively to needlework distributors who sold to retailers who sold to consumers. Manufacturers often sold either to distributors or directly to retailers, but not to consumers.

The lines have become very fluid in recent years. One business model which has worked very well for its owners has been Nordic Needle. Started on a kitchen table it now is a retailer, a wholesaler/distributor, a direct importer of special items, and a catalog retailer. Their customer is both the retailers (shops) and the en-use customer.

Many designers find themselves selling directly to consumers, to distributors, to retailers and to catalog retailers.

Shops (retailers) find themselves competing with designers, manufacturers and distributors who also sell directly to consumers. Designers find themselves unable to maintain a business by only selling wholesale and sometimes unsure of the best way to support shops but still make a bit of money.

One thing is certain. Consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated as they shop in brick and mortar shops, on line, from catalogs and at consumer shows.


I'm not sure that the new model is a bad thing. If you're looking for a single designer or a particular piece, especially, why not buy directly from them? If you're not sure what you want and want to browse, or you're looking for multiple designers, then it's time to go to your LNS. It also depends on how much of the business side the designer wants to handle, of course. Being a retailer is a business of its own and should be treated as that.
Personally, I like the new model. The old one with lots of middlemen meant lots of control of what was in the shops. Too often, the local shops aren't interested in stocking what I need, eg silk thread. The best (and only purely needlework shop) in my town only has a couple of sorts of silk thread. The assumption is that everyone uses DMC. Same with designs and patterns, under the old system, I had to rely on the shops to stock what I wanted, which they didn't most of the time. Now I can go directly to the source, which saves me time and money.

This is a difficult issue! The down side to so many suppliers selling direct is that it eliminates the need for the LNS!! However, the LNS doesn't have the budget to carry *everything*, so suppliers may forced to offer up their goods to the general stitching public...
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?