The internet brings a newdimension to the process of matching manufacturers with distributors who supply retailers:ubiquity, ease of use, and the visual enhancement that makes learning to use it so quickand easy. However, the world wide web is a relatively new development. The prices chargedare often too high, especially given that the costs and profit ratios are unknown.It’s certainly not a miracle cure. There will never be one single industry system -in fact, there may be hundreds of them, and that’s fine. But it’s vital to haveto learn only one system that can then talk to all of the other systems in use.

Many retailers and suppliers remain sceptical about theinternet – after all, it’s human nature to resist change. In this case, National ShoeRetail Association (NSRA) members are buying from their own association. A relationshipbuilt on trust already exists, but many may still resist this change. It’s taken manyyears to get this far and, in doing so, much has been learned. Change is a door that canonly be opened from the inside, so the NSRA has waited for each member to open its owndoor to change.

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The challenge is not to survive but to grow. Technology isnot a destination but merely transportation, and should be used to take NSRA members tonew levels of accomplishment and success. The internet has made this possible. It providesa speed of response unlike any communications medium we’ve known before. It gives usquick response at low costs under the user’s complete control, and withcommunications 24 hours a day, seven days a week worldwide. And it’s as easy asriding a bike.