How jewelers can use JCK magazine as a profitability tool

Using JCK magazine and its related products as a profitability tool was the topic of a panel discussion on Wednesday at the JCK Show ~ Las Vegas 2003.

JCK editors Rob Bates, Anthony DeMarco, Jennifer Heebner, Gary Roskin, and Carrie Soucy discussed the various ways JCK works to help jewelers with their bottom line. The editors provided a description of their jobs and how they pertain to retailers. Among the topics discussed were taking advantage of the research the magazine provides, using Internet products for recent news and as a research tool, learning how bulk diffusion treatments and conflict diamonds can affect the bottom line, and how to introduce international fashion trends to a retailer’s local clientele.

JCK editor-in-chief Hedda Schupak moderated the discussion.

Bates, who specializes in diamonds, talked about the potential impact of the conflict diamonds issue. Although there is no clear evidence that sales have been affected by the controversy, Bates noted that through the efforts of the mass media and some human rights organizations almost everyone has heard of conflict diamonds but in most cases don’t have a clear picture of the issue.

DeMarco, who writes about retail design and technology issues and who manages the JCK Web site and JCK’s electronic publication “eMonday,” provided examples of retail design stories that recently appeared in the magazine to illustrate how superior retail design can affect the bottom line.

The Internet and its effect on independent retail jewelers proved to be a hot topic and generated the most questions and some disagreement. In a response to a question, Bates, who also writes about the Internet for JCK, said the impact of e-commerce shouldn’t be overlooked. “The amount of jewelry sold on the Internet is 1% to 2%,” Bates said. “That is a significant figure.”

DeMarco, meanwhile, noted that what people are buying from the Internet might be more important than the amount being bought. He said that outside of the bridal business, the Internet’s impact, based on what is being sold, is negligible. In fact, he said, the Internet, as a source of information, will provide more opportunities than problems for retail jewelers.

Heebner, who writes about marketing and research and manages the JCK Research & Data Store and online database for the jewelry industry, said that she spends a lot of her time tracking and organizing sales figures so jewelry industry professionals can have easy access to the information.

In addition, she touted the JCK Retail Panel whose member jewelers provide feedback on a variety of issues based on monthly questionnaires. The panelists’ responses serve as the basis for feature stories and provide data for the Research & Data Store. The retail panel polls are also a way for JCK editors to learn what’s important to retailers.

Heebner also discussed the way editors at JCK are able to attend and report on many events around the world and how retailers can use those reports to make better decisions.

Roskin, JCK’s gem editor, presented a detailed presentation on issues of importance in the gem community and discussed how those issues, such as the recent alleged tanzanite link to terrorism and the bulk diffusion controversy, affect retailers. He also described how he uses photography and text to present complex gemological issues in a clear, concise way, such as a recent controversy concerning treated topaz. “It gave me the opportunity to discuss all treatments of topaz,” he said.

Soucy, JCK’s fashion editor, talked about fashion trends and how local jewelers should interpret them. “Any fashion trends need to be analyzed with a regional perspective,” she noted.

Soucy also offered suggestions on how to observe fashion trends locally and how to create a more “fashion forward” store. “Spend time at the mall and observe what is being sold,” she advised. “Get information from trade and fashion magazines, and you’ll have the background.”