Last week, Stephen R. Covey’s mega bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, came up in a question on Jeopardy! (my not-so-secret obsession). It got me thinking: What are the jewelry industry’s most progressive retailers doing right?
1. Think mobile.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If you haven’t optimized your website for mobile traffic, you’re losing potential customers before they have a chance to walk through your door. That goes triple if you’re in the bridal business.
“Ninety-eight percent of brides own a smartphone, up from 90 percent in 2013,” said Nikki Spangler, a jewelry marketing specialist at The Knot, at the American Gem Society Conclave in April. “You have to fish where the fish are.”
In other words, be sure your website is responsive—meaning that regardless whether it’s viewed on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, it’s going to look as intended. That way, consumers doing online research won’t be turned off by what could otherwise be a clunky, frustrating digital experience. If your mobile site looks clean and works well, they’ll have every reason to expect the same experience when they shop at your store.
2. Get appy.
If you’ve read this blog at least a few times, you probably know I’m a big fan of Instagram. The photo-sharing app is home to an incredibly enthusiastic jewelry community, and if you’re not on it, you’re missing out on tons of creative inspiration and market intelligence. Sign up for an account, fill your feed with photos, follow the designers you carry in your store, as well as those you’d like to carry, and get comfortable with hashtagging, the quickest way to attract like-minded Instagrammers to your feed. (See this primer from a year ago for a few quick lessons.)
Once you’ve gotten the swing of things on Instagram, start warming up to Snapchat. Personally, I have yet to jump on the Snapchat bandwagon, but I sense my time for holding out is coming to an end. Brands I respect—from Taco Bell to General Electric—are using the app creatively. Study their playbooks—and dive in. It’s virtually guaranteed that your millennial consumers are on it. To reiterate a point from above, fish where the fish are!
3. Know your merchandise.
That means asking questions of your suppliers to understand where your products come from and how they’re made. Your goal should be to assure your customers that the gold, diamonds, and gemstones you sell have come to market through ethical channels. While that isn’t always possible with gems, which often pass through a murky supply chain on their way to the retail counter, you should ask for assurances from your vendors. And if they can’t provide them, consider dumping them for vendors who can. Check out senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s JCK June 2015 feature for tips on how to source goods from suppliers who care about ethics and sustainability.
4. Talk story.
Storytelling helps boost sales. I wrote about the rationale for this three years ago—and it’s even more relevant today. Sharing the history and context of the jewels you sell can only endear your products to consumers. One very popular strategy centers on designer trunk shows—lots of them. The closer you can get your customers to the origin of the jewels they covet, the more success you’ll have. Because the more people know about things, the more they like them. It’s basic human nature, and if you appeal to it, you’ll see that it works.
5. Make use of technology.
From RFID to 3-D printing, the technological tools now available to retailers unquestionably make it easier to do business. So why aren’t you using them? I’ve heard of jewelers who are still tracking their inventories using papers and pens. That’s pure insanity. Doing things the old way, just because that’s how you’ve always done them, isn’t going to cut it anymore. Make a few strategic investments now and you’ll save yourself time and money in the medium- to long-term. Senior editor Emili Vesilind, who covers retail and technology for JCK, is always writing about the newest, coolest tech tools. Be sure to check out the Tool Time section in the back of each issue for apps, supplies, and software designed to make your life easier.
6. Create a succession plan.
As many jewelers approach retirement age, the future of their businesses remains unclear. Will the kids take over the store? Will they hold a liquidation sale and call it quits? Will they sell the business to their employees? There’s no one right solution. The only thing a jewelry should do is investigate the options and make a plan. Frequent contributor Whitney Sielaff covered the ins and outs of succession in our June 2015 issue. For jewelers considering retirement, it’s a must-read.
7. Embrace the same-sex marriage market.
Hooray for last week’s historic Supreme Court decision affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry!!! If you haven’t revised your bridal marketing strategy in some time, now is the moment to capitalize on the scores of same-sex couples bound to come looking for engagement rings—or engagement pendants, watches, or bracelets—in the years to come. Don’t limit your selection to the traditional bestsellers. Widen your merchandise to include plenty of men’s pieces. Promote your store as a destination for all couples who wish to tie the knot. And train your sales associates to think twice before using the same old language they’ve always used to sell to couples who become engaged. (Hint: Even the word bride can be problematic!)