Small retailers of home textiles believe that they suffer the most from late merchandise deliveries. Small retailers say that their orders are left to be filled last after the large chains have been supplied. Some small retailers develop personal relationships with vendors in order to help alleviate the problem. Laytner’s Linens co-owner Alan Laytner says that being small is a definite disadvantage regarding deliveries, because the larger chains are able to send their orders electronically. Generally, the best recourse is to complain loudly about late or short orders.
Late delivery is a classic headache in the home textiles business. For just about everybody. But small retailers, those operating just a handful of stories. say, they’re in the worst shape of all. they believe their orders get pushed aside by vendors who give larger chains first dibs on what’s available.
So what’s a little guy to do? Some go out of their way to cultivate personal relationships with vendors. Others turn to alternative, often smaller manufacturers. Still, others tie up more of their cash in inventory.
Several retailers have told HFD that their stores get late or incomplete deliveries because many vendors give priority to larger orders from national retailers – retailers who are able to send their orders electronically.
“Being small is one of the reasons for my delivery problems,” said Alan Laytner, co-owner of Laytner’s Linens, a two-unit specialty store in Manhattan. “It is a question of who is getting my goods. I am convinced that goods are allocated by account size.”
Another factor contributing to late deliveries, these executives said, is that their stores, are not on line with Electronic Data Interchange and Quick Response. The bigger stores are.
“EDI”/Quick Response orders take priority,” asserted Emil Horesh, president of The Linen Loft, an Atlanta-based operator of six stores. “We are penalized by not being on the system, and our orders are placed at the back of the list. If this continues, it will hurt relations with everyday customers whose orders can add up to a significant amount of business.”
Compounding the problem, Laytner said, is the proliferation of superstores and the expansion of large chains with mega-orders.
Retailers say cultivating close relationships with key vendors is one way to boost their status on the delivery ladder. “Personal relationships mean a lot to a business my size,” said Rod Altmeyer, president of Altmeyer’s, a 16-unit specialty store based in New Kensington, Pa. “If I have a problem I can call a vendor I have a trusting relationship with, and get something done.”