For Jewelers: iPad, Therefore iSell

With the advent of the iPad, workstations equipped with laptops are quickly becoming a thing of the past. In their place, store owners either have a tablet or iPad or two dedicated to showroom staff, or have issued iPads to all relevant front-of-store and back-office employees. In this edition of Retail Details, we’ll examine how three jewelry stores are using tablets and iPads a little differently.

Diamond Dave

As the owner of Diamond Dave’s Jewelers by Design in Clarksville, Ind., “Diamond Dave” Disponett, has more going on than just running a jewelry store with his business partner. While he’s on the road with his other interests, he’s also doing “house calls” for his star-studded custom jewelry clients, John Rich, and Hank Williams, Jr. chief among his regular Nashville, Tenn., clients. 

With his business done mostly behind the wheel of a 1953 Ford pickup, Diamond Dave has gone from a laptop, to a mini-laptop, and now has a Motorola Zoom pad. He ditched the laptop a while back, and has settled on the two smallest of the three devices, favoring the Zoom pad over the mini-laptop. For the last six months, he’s been making home and business custom consultations as a way of attracting more custom business and expanding his out-of-market sales.

To make his smaller, portable devices as impressive and fast-working as most retailers’ desktops, Diamond Dave’s Zoom pad is loaded with Stuller’s CounterSketch. He can access a virtual inventory backed up by countless customization features and hundreds of jewelry templates. 

Diamond Dave

Diamond Dave’s office is wherever he parks his 1953 Ford pickup

When needed, using TeamViewer, he can access his desktop computer at the store from his Zoom pad. During an average house call, he simply hooks up his device to a large flat-screen TV and accesses any software or application needed, going from concept to rendering in about 30 minutes.

“The clients I deal with don’t have the time, nor can they shop at a jewelry store,” says Diamond Dave. “The portability of the tablet and the CounterSketch software is the best combination since peanut butter and jelly.”

It’s not just about having the latest technology and taking his store’s custom shop wherever business takes him. More importantly, he doesn’t need to carry live inventory. “That way I’m not a moving target for armed robbers,” says Diamond Dave.

But he can’t help showing off his technology when an opportunity presents itself. An active member of the Shriners, Diamond Dave has been known to pull out his tablet during bingo night, trying to find the next custom customer while raising money for charity.

In Front of the Counter

When the iPad was released in April 2010, Doug Meadows, owner of David Douglas Diamonds & Jewelry, was one of the 3 million people that purchased the new device in the first 80 days it went on sale. The Marietta, Ga.–based retailer viewed the iPad as a communications tool that would allow him and his staff to work side-by-side with customers, not behind a counter.

This openness and close-proximity selling was already part of Meadows’ newly defined business model that was literally built-in to his business when he completely redesigned his store more than two years ago. A key feature to the build-out and the new visual merchandising elements was open jewelry display cases. This allowed for easy access to prototype jewelry, namely bridal lines.

Reducing his reliance on live inventory was another reason the iPad came in handy for the custom portion of Meadows’ business. When he first purchased the store iPad, Meadows downloaded the SketchUp app, which allows the user to use a fingertip or stylus wand to create design sketches.

Sarah Ragsdale (left) and Heather Kessler (right)

Sarah Ragsdale and Heather Kessler do some role playing with the store’s iPad

During a custom sales presentation, SketchUp-generated sketches can be easily saved as a PDF file to forward to customers by email. SketchUp files can also be imported to Matrix, one of the industry’s most powerful CAD software packages.

For Meadows and his staff, the iPad device itself is also a symbol of embracing breaking technology, with its functionality as a communications tool enhancing that business image. Meadows has produced YouTube videos about his store’s custom design process, as well as other subjects, that can be shown to customers from the iPad. And for each custom customer, Meadows’ son Joseph creates an individual website, which can be viewed in the store on the iPad, or in the customer’s home or business. 

Meadows also likes the high-definition iPad display screen. The resolution makes images from his store’s custom library really pop during a sales presentation. And the many jewelry images, graphics, and templates in Stuller’s CounterSketch software have crisp, clear defined lines, making an intuitive, and easy-to-use custom jewelry software package easier to use for the sales associate, and even the customer.

“The iPad allows us to bring the custom customer more in to the design process,” says Meadows. “For those going through the [custom] process for the first time, working with sales associates on the iPad reduces anxiety and nervousness.”

The goal of using the iPads for paperless POS checkout is scheduled for 2012, according to J. David Jewelry’s sales manager Patti Tremonti. But since the iPads were purchased in June this year, Tremonti and her staff have come up with many creative uses for the new technology, which is used by sales associates, back-office staff, as well as the repair and custom jewelry department staff.

Initial uses started with using the iPad notes feature for daily reports to Tremonti. “These daily ‘diaries’ allow me as the sales manager to know who each person interacted with and how,” says Tremonti. “In the event a customer comes in when the sales associate or staff member who helped them isn’t here, we can quickly review that’s employee’s daily report history, search by the customer’s name, and know exactly how to help them.”

Reaching Out to Bridal Customers

J. David Jewelry in Broken Arrow, Okla., is another retail jewelry store that uses the iPad to bring the customer closer, physically, to the sales presentation process. Customers, especially young bridal customers, do most of their pre-shopping online. “We’ll often ask customers to go to these websites using the iPad,” says Tremonti. “This allows the customer to use the iPad, which is still a novelty for many, and we can capture the web browsing activity to get a feel for where our customers are going for diamond and jewelry information online.”

Leslie Watson and a store guest

Sales specialist Leslie Watson and a store guest

The store’s iPads have the Penultimate on them, which has similar features to SketchUp, for the custom jewelry customers. Other software includes the recent purchase of IOS 5, the iPad operating system that allows the user to send text messages to cell phones. Tremonti and her staff also like the optical quality of the iPad camera. Staffers use it to personalize store customer profiles with a quick in-store image capture.

Staffers also use iPads to take notes during the store’s Saturday morning training meetings. The iPads are used to capture important data, and task management during and after-meeting follow-up. 

And with the store putting a big focus on the ever-growing bridal market, each Monday the store’s diamond inventory and price lists are updated and automatically sent to each person’s iPad.