Retailer of the Week: Bobby Wallo, Owner of Beard’s Jewelry

Retailer of the Week returns just in time for the start of
the holiday shopping season. This week’s honor goes to Bobby Wallo. As owner of
Beard’s Jewelry on Fleming Island, Fla., he gets high marks for demonstrating
exemplary holiday spirit with the Christmas-themed designs he added to his
store’s new website,
which launched in October.

Seasonal changes to websites give storeowners the ability to
do mild makeovers for Christmas 2010 promotions, as well as ring in 2011 with
New Year’s-appropriate design elements. In the future, this web design
dexterity will allow storeowners to make subtle yet effective design changes to
go with just about any gift-giving holiday in the upcoming year and beyond.

In the future, Wallo says he intends to spruce up his
website for national holidays such as Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor
Day, and Veteran’s Day. 

“After this holiday season, I plan to sit down with my web
designer to determine a design schedule for the year,” Wallo says. “We could
have as many as 10 to 12 holiday website design changes on a yearly schedule.”

Wallo wants the website’s overall design to reflect the
store’s community outreach efforts with local charities. “All of this is in the
very early planning stages, but for now this is how I foresee the web design
changes next year and in the future,” says Wallo. 

The decision to incorporate some yuletide features into the
website wasn’t just to get Wallo’s staff and customers in the holiday spirit.
As part of the store’s 2010 holiday season marketing strategy, Wallo wants to
get the word out about the store’s new online diamond database.

A billboard in a high traffic part of the city is making
motorists aware of Beard’s new BigDiamondSearch.com web address, which forwards
users to the store’s main site, BeardsJewelryFI.com. The easy-to-remember web
address is part of a new online market differentiation strategy that gives
customers the option to browse more than 70,000 diamonds from Gemfind’s
database directly from Beard’s website.

The new strategy comes at a good time for Wallo. A few years
ago, the retail jeweler purchased one of two Beard’s Jewelry stores in the
area. The previous owner wanted to sell the Fleming Island location to
concentrate his efforts on a single store in nearby Jacksonville.

Wallo wanted to keep the Beard’s name and the branding
equity it has in the Fleming Island community, but also wanted to let residents
(population 180,000) know that new management meant new products and marketing
efforts were in the works.

The man behind the website design and marketing program is
Joe Merkley, president/founder of Merkley Marketing Group, Inc. When Merkley completed Wallo’s website
in October, discussions about upcoming Christmas online promotions had already
begun.

“I don’t quite understand why more jewelers don’t decorate
their website for the holidays,” says Merkley. “If you decorate your store, why
not your website? Everyone says jewelry is about emotion, so create emotion [on
your website] for the holidays.”  

In addition to tapping into Gemfind’s database of diamonds,
Merkley added a number of features to the main website for the early fall
launch. As the holidays drew near, he developed some sample pages with holiday
themes, contest ideas, and an essential holiday shopping content. The holiday
design with red and blue Christmas ornaments was the winner and with that
decision, a seasonal campaign was born.

The red and blue Christmas ornament design is repeated at
the bottom of every page, along with the store’s holiday hours.

“It’s a very subtle but important touch,” says Wallo. “It
not only repeats the design for top-to-bottom, page-to-page consistency, store
hours is one of the most important pieces of information customers need during
the holiday shopping season.”

Seasonal event and contest notifications also get the
holiday treatment. Wallo and his staff are hosting a pre-Christmas event on
Thursday night, Dec. 2, to “indulge the senses,” with catered foods, drinks,
jazz music, and even tailored store scents. At the bottom of the online
invitation is a link to a print-friendly invitation, a convenience feature
Merkley included on many content pages.

This holiday season Wallo is also giving away a diamond-set
ladies’ Citizen Eco-Drive watch from the watchmaker’s Signature Collection. The
registration link features a seasonal design element on the homepage that
received prominent placement. “In two weeks we’ve already had 45 people sign up
for the contest online,” says Wallo. “We see this as a good sign that the
website is getting more traffic.”