Competing in a Changing Market

The Internet has helped consumers obtain fine-jewelry education, discover more product options, become price conscious, and enjoy immediacy in obtaining jewelry. Jewelry retailers can compete by developing clever marketing, being attentive to customers, having a market niche, and positioning oneself as an expert.

The rise of “retailtainment” means retailers’ success will depend on the experience and atmosphere, not just the product. Stores like Apple, Starbucks, and Sephora create an environment where people are encouraged to linger, try products, and hang out. Maybe it’s time to create a jewelry lounge with an espresso machine or a private area where customers can try things on and have fun with the jewelry. A children’s toy area would allow busy moms to peek at jewelry while their kids play. Jewelers also can investigate methods to make the shopping experience more interactive and fun, such as a computer on the countertop to show customers all the colors a particular necklace comes in.

Specialization is another strategy. Retailer Sabon specializes in selling chunks of soap. The company says it packages its soap “with love,” offering a selection that’s deep, specific, and not animal tested. Decide what you want to be known for, and then stock the most and best of that product.

If you don’t have a Web site, you may be viewed as staid or out of touch. Build one that features the store’s history, mission, and philosophy. Make it personal. Include biographies and features on staff members to present the business as personable and friendly. Post jewelry education information to build trust. More intricate Web sites can offer interactive shopping features like wish lists that can be e-mailed to loved ones. Showcase jewelry with good-quality pictures and zoom capability. Web sites are relatively affordable, and an enticing one will pay for itself.