Dallas—The slowing economy, and with it the need to cut costs, is on the minds of attendees of the 11th Annual National Conference on Operations and Fulfillment (NCOF), held here May 7-9. The conference is cosponsored by “Operations & Fulfillment” magazine (a sister publication of CATALOG AGE) and the Direct Marketing Association.
Wayne Teres, president of Framingham, MA-based Teres Consulting, said that many of his clients have been mandated by management to cut costs. Richard Harris, director of call center and order processing for multititle wigs and accessories marketer Specialty Catalog Corp., added that cost-cutting is indeed a priority at his company. “We’re interested in doing everything we do a little bit better” in terms of cost containment.
Several attendees point to a decline in attendance here as evidence of marketers’ drive to trim expenses. As one observer noted, “If you’re trying to keep costs down, you’re not going to be sending people to a trade show.” Without giving specific numbers, a spokesperson for the DMA confirmed that attendance was down, in large part because many of the dot-com companies that had attended last year are no longer in business. The number of exhibitors was up, however, from 293 last year to 316.
Some attendees felt that the worst may already be over. Bill Kuipers, a principle in Haskell, NJ-based consultancy Spaide, Kuipers, said that while clients were taking wait-and-see during the first quarter of the year, “within the past two weeks the mood has changed from cautious pessimism to cautious optimism.”
“There’s optimism for the [economic] climate in general,” agreed Dowe Tillema, vice president of operations for Wassau, WI-based athletic apparel cataloger Eastbay, “but when you get to a specific line item such as the cost of shipping goods, people are a little more apprehensive.”