THE BIZ by ProQuest


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 Manufacturers and
 retailers reflect on the last
 20 years of business,
 pinpointing the good, the
 bad and what might happen
 next. By Melissa Knific

  What have been the biggest changes in the
  industry over the last two decades? This
  recession has changed how we all operate—
  we have to make smarter choices, become
  more efficient. We can’t change the economic
  climate, but we can be sure our strategy is
  more passionate and deliberate. Plus, the
  consolidation at retail. There are fewer stores
  and people are shopping online more and
  more. Today’s world is much smaller.
  Biggest surprise? Consumers have gotten
  smarter over the last 10 to 15 years. They’re
  more tuned into the trends and have a sharp
  eye for quality and comparison. The Internet
  and the media have helped this along; with
  so much access to information at their finger-
  tips, you can’t fool anyone.
  What’s stayed consistent? Women are al-
  ways going to want a great pair of shoes. Footwear is and always will be the     What’s changed for the worse? The consolidation of retail has caused a
  purchase that can change an outfit, change an attitude.                           bit of a homogenization of the selection in many stores.
  Predictions for the next 20 years? Things will get better. In the long run, I    What’s stayed consistent? At the end of the day, it’s always been about
  like to say that everyone has a short memory. When [the economy bounces]         having great product and great service.
  back, people will forget [the recession’s effect].                               What would you like to see change? More collaboration and information
  What would you like to see change? As retailers constrict and consolidate,       sharing among retailers, brands and customers would be beneficial for all.
  you can see a lot of the same—people playing it safe. But the thing about        We believe transparency leads to trust and confidence with customers and
  America is we have a lot of talent. There are a lot of entrepreneurs coming up   brand partners.
  with new ideas; they are going to stimulate the economy.                         Predictions for the next 20 years? In 10 years, the Internet went from
                                                                                   nonexistent to the primary choice for many consumers. The pace of change
                                                                                                                                                                PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH RENNER

  STEVE HILL, VICE PRESIDENT OF MERCHANDISING, ZAPPOS                              and innovation will accelerate as customers have access to increased
  Biggest changes? The diversity and variety of footwear offered today is          amounts of information, brands and great product.
  the largest change. Athletic, casual and wellness are all categories that
  have experienced great growth, and fashion has become accessible for all         MANDY CABOT, CEO, DANSKO
  consumers.                                                                       Biggest changes? Consumers have raised the bar on comfort, allowing new
  What’s changed for the better? Increased competition and consumers’              brands to emerge with better products and some older brands an opportu-
  ability to see what brands are doing from both a style and technology            nity to reinvent themselves. Additionally, consumers now have far greater
  standpoint has pushed vendors to continue to innovate. Those that have           access to far more information about the products they buy and the values
  inspired customers are the ones that have experienced growth in any              of the companies behind those products, and they’re exercising their right
  market.                                                                          to make intelligent choices now more than ever before.

 36 • april/may 2010
What’s changed for the better? This decade has witnessed the develop-            RICHARD POLK, PRESIDENT, PEDESTRIAN SHOPS
ment of more organic and sustainably produced components and materials           Biggest changes? In some ways we’ve come full circle. Even though mod-
as well as increased attention to corporate social responsibility and safer      ern technology has changed the way we operate, we’re also going back to
manufacturing. Meanwhile, the growth of o
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