I’ve written in this space about the three C’s that make up the core of a full-fledged gourmet housewares store: Cookware, Cutlery and Cords.
More recently, though, I’ve begun to believe the letter C has taken on an even deeper meaning to the independent kitchenware retailing business.
It became evident as I met with several independent retailers and their suppliers during the winter gourmet markets, with both sides trying to assess the state of business and how to navigate today’s Challenges.
It occurred the me that while the urge to point fingers may be instinctive when pressure mounts, this, more than ever, is a time for retailers and vendors to avoid the kind of Confrontational approaches that can tend to stall progress.
The gourmet kitchenware retail business is a true Collective. And its suppliers are a vital Cog in the success of the Channel as a whole. Conversely, gourmet housewares suppliers need healthy independent retailers as reliable, meaningful revenue outlets that help build and define brands.
Even as both sides have distinct, sometimes Conflicting needs, each side of the business still needs the other. The door to mutual success opens with mutual Consideration of the very real Concerns stoked by today’s hyper-Competitive environment.
From there, the process should move from Cooperation to Compromise to Collaboration — perhaps the three most Critical success factors for businesses of all types, especially the independent retail business.
It all is served well by Creativity, not just the ingenuity needed for great product, marketing and merchandising, but also the inventiveness needed for financial, operational and logistic flexibility on which retailer/vendor partnerships in this segment depend.
None of this works without a laser focus on the Consumer: On how they think, how they live, how they eat, how they Cook, how they shop, how they entertain. On how they do just about everything.
And on how they are Changing.
Nothing is Constant and nothing is Certain. Navigating today’s demanding market requires Candid and Constructive Communication. Imagine the possibilities, however, when everyone works together to find new ways to say they Can, instead of more ways to say they Can’t.
‘C’ you in Chicago.