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Wait time for special orders is getting shorter

September 05, 2004|From Associated Press

Special orders, once a "hurry up and wait" proposition for consumers, have become a fast-delivery phenomenon as home improvement superstores rush shipments for such products as faucets and wood flooring.

Instead of sitting idly by until special items arrive, more homeowners can expect hard-to-find products in a timely fashion.

According to a merchandiser who has seen nearly 1,000 of his stores move thousands of items into the special-order mainstream, the trend toward speed will continue to gain momentum.

"Speed to market is everything," said Mike Menser, senior vice president of merchandising for Lowe's. "I can remember when many special orders meant four weeks or more. Now, it's three to four days, tops."

What's happened, Menser said, is a combination of high-tech communication, a supply chain willing to adopt "quick ship" time frames and a shift of high-end vendors from a boutique-store-only approach to selling at larger retail outlets.

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