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How to Gain Market Share in a Soft Economy

Watch Words
By Steven Kaiser
This story appears in the June 2008 issue of JCK magazine
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By now, everyone is well aware of the soft retail climate, where even affluent consumers are tightening their belts. Here are a few specific ideas to seize the opportunity to increase business in a soft market.

  • Don’t make the traditional mistake of cutting back on your buying. Instead, continue to replenish sold inventory, especially core merchandise. Make sure all best sellers of all brands are reordered.

  • Prioritize, beginning with your most important and top-selling brands. This ensures that your most prominent brands are fully represented on a consistent basis. Consumers are still buying, and many successful businesses use slow economic times to become more aggressive and increase their market share.

  • Co-op advertising is a critical component of your marketing. It’s imperative to get the message out and bring customers into the store. In fact, this is an ideal time to do special promotions such as in-store brand events and trunk shows and participate in national advertising campaigns. It’s a common error among jewelers to use co-op advertising predominantly in November and December, but continuous advertising and public relations activities are important all year.

  • In a slower economy, the strength of your sales associates becomes even more important, so it’s critical that your salespeople are at the top of their game. Focus on giving continual training including product knowledge reviews, extra training from your watch brands, and sales refreshers.

  • Add-on sales also are more important in a soft market. Shoe retailers try to sell shoe trees, and a pen company will try to sell extra refills, so look at categories you can add such as jewelry boxes, jewelry cleaner, watch winders, watch-cases, and watch straps.

  • Financing is an important tool to bring customers into your store and close sales. It makes the sale process easier if you can come up with financing for the consumer. There are credit companies that offer programs for retailers to help create sales.

  • Pay attention to your sell-through numbers. Although this is always critical, it’s even more significant during slow times, because inventory ties up cash and the wrong inventory prevents you from being able to replenish strong inventory. Using a retail measurement service can help you analyze numbers not only for your own store but also to see how certain products sell through across the nation.

  • It’s critical to attend trade shows to view new product firsthand, learn what the trends are, and see special new items that your store can sell. It’s also important to know what products will be featured and advertised for fall, since this may change your buying patterns. Some retailers hold back on attending shows during slower times, but this is a big mistake.

These suggestions can help you be better prepared to increase retail sales in a weak market, but they’re also good practices to follow in a strong market.

info@kaisertime.com

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