"Give couples something physical, a gift they can hold on to that reminds them of where they purchased their engagement ring. We have an old-time photo booth with new electronic digital file features in our new store. These days, with digital cameras and photo paper, an engagement photo can be presented to a couple before they leave the store. Have frames with your store’s logo on it and the couple will always remember you as their engagement jeweler."-Michael Nedler, co-owner, Sonny’s Rocks, Denver
Let Them Tell a Story
"We’ve been running a love story Valentine’s Day contest for many years. People can submit their stories and have friends and family members vote on it, which helps generate interest in the event and more traffic on the Web site. Over the years, the posted letters have given young men ideas on making their wedding proposal more romantic. And women enjoy reading the stories online, one after the other."-George Frist, owner, Mills Jewelers, Lockport, N.Y.
Make It About the Customer
"No matter what you do as a store owner to be a romance destination, you must first train your staff to make the sale about the customer and not the product, or all other efforts will fail. Jewelers and their staff must first understand the customer’s message and how the jewelry symbolizes that message."-Kate Peterson, president and CEO, Performance Concepts, Canton, Ohio
Understand the Generations
"The bridal market isn’t just about young couples in their twenties. Older couples who have lost a spouse due to an untimely death are very different bridal customers. Older couples have more experience with relationships and deal with jewelers based on trust, confidence, or a referral from someone they know. When an older person walks into your store, there’s a good chance they’ll buy from you based on these qualities. Younger-generation bridal couples who may be shopping several jewelers want to know what you can do for them right here and right now."-David Cornell, Cornell’s Jewelers, Rochester, N.Y.
Provide VIP Treatment
"It’s good when a retail jeweler can create his or her own unique way of providing VIP treatment for bridal customers. I know a retailer who owns a vintage Rolls Royce. For special customers he acts as a chauffeur and drives couples around town in the old luxury car for an evening of fun and romance."-David Richardson, founder, Jewelry Sales Training
FOUR MORE TIPS
1. Create an ambiance. Customers want to feel they’re getting something special, and store environment plays a role. Consider playing music, displaying fresh flowers, burning candles, or installing a scent system such as ScentAir. At Wimmer’s Diamonds, Fargo, N.D., soft colors, wood accents, and vintage wallpaper "suggest forever," says sales manager Deb McShane. Some competitors-think Sam’s Club-simply can’t compete on atmosphere. As Leo Anglo, owner of Vincent Jewelers, St. Louis, says: "You’re not going to have a romantic environment selling jewelry next to frozen meats."
2. Strengthen your custom design services or better promote them. Recent research among the Millennial generation reveals that the majority prefer to design their own engagement rings. This validates recent efforts to create software that lets customers participate in jewelry design. (See "New Frontiers in Jewelry Retailing," parts I and II, JCK, September 2009 and October 2009.) "When you have something designed specifically for you, the input ends up being very romantic," says Shant Dakessian, co-owner, Simone & Son, Huntington Beach, Calif.
3. Stock suitable merchandise. Wayne Addessi, president, Addessi Jewelers Inc., Ridgefield, Conn., recently sold a bracelet featuring 62.00 cts. t.w. fancy yellow diamonds for $500,000. He says the nice part about that sale wasn’t the dollar figure but having the merchandise. "That’s part of the romance-being able to take a magnificent piece of jewelry like that out of the showcase," he says.
4. Promote yourself as the jeweler with the best proposal ideas. The Web site of Occasions Fine Jewelry, Midland, Texas, lists 25 ways to pop the question. Examples include freezing her ring in an ice cube and handing her a beverage with the special ice-in-ice cube in it, or buying her a piece of jewelry (plain band or ID tag bracelet) and inscribing it with Marry Me, allowing her to pick out her own ring later. Many jewelers use Dave Richardson’s Twenty Ways to Pop the Question to plant ideas in shoppers’ heads. "We give consumers the book as an opportunity to romance the sale," says Chip Stone, owner, Stonecraft Jewelers, Elko, Nev. The book retails for $12.95 and is available on Richardson’s Web site, www.jewelrysalestraining.com, and on Amazon.com.