The best ideas are the ones that are generated out of passionate discussion with a group of people you trust and respect.
I’m thankful that the jewelry industry has plenty of enthusiastic and opinionated designers, manufacturers, jewelers, and industry veterans who have exposed JCK’s readers to forward thinking ideas, theories, and advice on the best business practices for this new economic age.
I got some of my Twitter friends together recently and had a lively discussion on the issues facing the jewelry industry in 2012.
Barbara Mooty, a marketing specialist, thinks inventory is one of the biggest challenges facing jewelers. "It's all about inventory," she tweets. “The amount in stock, virtual inventory, and ‘having’ what the public will buy—that is a challenge.”
For jewelry designer and blogger Wendy Brandes, raw material costs and improving customer service are two areas of concern for the industry. “The question is, can your bottom line afford bad customer service? Save money, lose customers?” she tweets.
Consumers demanding more custom work was also an issue brought up by everyone.
“Jewelers should just do custom work and skip the brands,” tweets Peggy Jo Donahue, director of public affairs for MJSA. “It is less stress, but only works if you have design talent.” Brandes agreed, tweeting “people feel justified in spending money if the product is special and personalized.”
A spirited discussion on how Internet sales have affected the relationship between customers and retailers—as well as retailers and manufacturers—dominated most of the hour we spent on Twitter.
Keturah Welker, of Keturah Diamond and Fine Jewelry in Huntington, W.V., says, “Internet buying is becoming more and more of a threat for brick and mortar stores.”
“One issue is lack of communication on how manufacturers execute e-commerce strategies with retailers,” tweets Dan Gordon, president of Samuel Gordon Jewelers. “I'm fine with Internet sales, as long is there is some sense with how the two partners can benefit.”
Schechter, while portraying a feisty devil’s advocate that moved the debate, agreed that more communication was necessary. “There is a tremendous amount of friction to buying a piece of jewelry on the web and that's bad for all of us,” he tweets. “Because the real problem is, at the end of the day, we're making it difficult for the customer.”
Few solutions to any of these issues were agreed upon, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It opens up the possibility for more debate throughout the industry, which is the real basis for any kind of lasting change.
What do you think are the most important issues facing the industry in 2012? What solutions do you have to any of the issues raised by our panel? Let me know and I’ll tweet out your thoughts and suggestions throughout the week.
@WendyBrandes That is so true, but a lot of people have a hard time discerning that... its like a piece of art... not just the materials— Keturah Welker (@KeturahJeweler) February 9, 2012
@WendyBrandes If you're geared up with good prototypes of popular styles--and responsive vendors, you can usually accommodate changing minds— Peggy Jo Donahue (@peggyjodonahue) February 9, 2012