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Inspire Change To Rank Higher In The Future

Change is a given in business. How well you anticipate and prepare for change dictates your staying power in business.

Consider, for example, the Top 100 Housewares Retailers ranked in the September 16, 2013, issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.

This marks HomeWorld’s 25th annual ranking of retailers by housewares sales. The challenge goes out to anybody who has been around the industry that long to claim that they accurately predicted in 1989 the monumental shifts in retail sales distribution evident from the 2013 ranking.

A Little Perspective

For a little perspective, here are the top 10 housewares retailers according to the ranking in HomeWorld’s inaugural September 1989 edition: Kmart ($3.0 billion in housewares sales in 1988); Walmart ($2.42 billion); Sears ($2.14 billion); Target ($910 million); Ames ($484 million); Montgomery Ward ($443 million); Service Merchandise ($424 million); J.C. Penney ($415 million); Best Products ($309 million); Bradlees ($301 million).

Compare that to this year’s ranking inside this issue. Five retailers from that initial ranking (Ames, Montgomery Ward, Service Merchandise, Best Products and Bradlees) are long gone. As are so many more to go with an entire channel— catalog showrooms— that for generations was a primary resource for housewares

Chalk it up to some combination of national retail consolidation, mismanagement, financial shortcomings and merchandising fogginess. What’s clear is they were not well-prepared and/or well-equipped for change.

Business Scorecard

More perspective: Nowhere to be found on that 1989 ranking are Bed Bath & Beyond and, of course, Amazon— catalysts for major change, indeed, during the past quarter century.

Perspective is a prudent quality when sizing up any ranking such as the Top 100 Housewares Retailers.

It is natural for vendors to examine each year’s list, for example, as a scorecard for their current business status. They look to see which among the top retailers they are selling, and perhaps more importantly, which they are not selling.

Measure Of Success

To measure success within such a snapshot, though, can be limiting. It would serve the industry well to assess the entire Top 100 Housewares Retailer list with an eye on which retailers are best positioned to scale the ranking during the next several years. And by similar assessment, which are most likely to drop during the same span.

It’s a fine thing, to be sure, to count the top 10 retailers among your customers today. Better yet is estimating who you want your top customers to be in five years; and focusing on how to make sure you’re selling them.

The chief executive of a major housewares manufacturer recently declared he expected Amazon to be the company’s top customer by 2018. Such a proclamation might have seemed foolhardy not long ago. Suppliers that envision and plan for major shifts in housewares retail distribution early, though, should be in a better position to capitalize.

Change is difficult to predict. It is even more difficult to prepare for when so much energy is being exerted, justifiably, on the current state of business.

Companies that have scaled HomeWorld’s Top 100 Housewares Retailer rankings the past 25 years foresaw and inspired change.

The next 25 years starts today.