Held March 17-19 in Miami Beach, FL, Material World offered seminars and exhibits running the gamut from fabric to production sourcing services, with a small contingent of technology and equipment exhibitors.
The spring show reported 234 exhibitors, almost 100 less than Material World's fall 2002 event. Attendance appeared light. As of press time, show organizer Urban Exhibitions had not released attendance figures, but said it was pleased with the quality of attendees.
The light foot traffic at Material World also reinforced a common refrain among attendees and exhibitors: The economy is bad, and it's not getting any better. "We're just not getting the big orders in this economy," noted Gordon Kingdon, president, Bell Label Co. "Customers are ordering just enough to tide them over."
Yet despite an environment of economic uncertainty, some exhibitors at Material World kept their eye on the ball and were determined to shake things up a bit. Accelerated Computer Technologies (A.C.T.) offered its Open Source Solution, a limited-time offer of free software and free source code. "It's time to change the industry psyche," noted Brian Javeline, executive vice president, who said there was good interest relative to his offer.
Polygon Software showcased its PolyPM, a PDM/ERP hybrid software for small- to mid-sized manufacturers. Among its many features, PolyPM includes a document vault for storing all types of read-only files, including jpeg, pdf and Excel documents. Like A.C.T., Polygon reported a high level of interest within its target market segments. "Traffic was slow overall, but for us, it was consistent," noted Mickey Wohlmuth, vice president, marketing and sales, Polygon.
SAP was also on hand, spreading the word about its most recent initiatives, including a strategic collaboration with KarstadtQuelle AG, Europe's largest combined department store and mail order group. The project involves the development of new functionality for the fashion retailer's procurement processes and the creation of new processes for forecasting and replenishment at its warehouses and retail outlets. Additionally, SAP announced that Wolverine World Wide Inc. has selected solutions of mySAPT Business Suite, including mySAPTSCM, mySAPTCRM and mySAPTFinancials.
Describing the market climate, Esther Lutz, SAP vice president, business development, apparel and footwear, said she hasn't seen a significant reduction in sales. "What we're noticing is that the sales cycle is longer," she said. "Cost consciousness is key. Customers are more cautious, asking, 'What guarantee is there?' "