In the four months that have passed since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, jewelers have learned many things: how to do business during a lockdown, why it’s important to get familiar with videoconferencing, and, perhaps most poignantly, the depth of love and commitment between couples who continue to get engaged and married, even if they have to do so virtually.
On Wednesday, JCK held a webinar sponsored by Jewelers Mutual to help jewelry retailers navigate the complexities of selling engagement rings and wedding bands in these challenging times. Titled “5 Strategies to Modernize Your Wedding Jewelry Business for 2020 and Beyond,” the webinar—led by editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky—covered topics such as the latest wedding statistics from The Knot, tips for conducting ring consultations on Zoom, and 2020 bridal jewelry trends.
“It’s a $74 billion industry and, according to research by IBISWorld, more than 400,000 businesses have jerked to a halt,” Gomelsky said. “But jewelers may be on the lucky end of the spectrum. People are still getting engaged. The Knot has found that 93% of couples that had weddings planned from April to August are postponing, and not canceling, their weddings. While a lot of weddings will be taking place in a more compressed time frame, they’re still happening. So all those engagement rings, wedding bands, men’s rings are still going to be in demand.”
The first modernizing strategy Gomelsky discussed was virtual ring consultations. She urged jewelers to choose a platform—between Zoom, FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, and others—that your customers are comfortable with and follow best practices, such as using two cameras: one focused on you and a second one focused on the rings to provide clients with a crisp shot of the merchandise.
“The second screen is a game changer,” said Lindsay Cantline of Single Stone in Los Angeles.
Gomelsky said she couldn’t overstate the importance of merging digital and in-store operations. “There should be no distinction between your digital team and your in-store team,” she said.
Be prepared to offer customers choice in how they browse and buy, between in-store appointments, curbside pickup, or door-to-door deliveries. “You have to be ready to hold their hands and give them as many options as possible,” she said.
The pandemic has accelerated trends, chief among them consumers’ embrace of digital commerce—to the point that some analysts are predicting that we’ll be close to 50% e-commerce by 2025, Gomelsky said.
“You have to be able to meet consumers where they are,” she said. “There is no flexibility here. If you’re not willing to give customers options, you’ll start seeing the negative impact of that, particularly when it comes to millennials and Gen Z.”
No jewelry seller can afford to pass on Instagram. Perusing rings on the social media platform is often the first step a prospective buyer takes on the journey to buying the ring of a lifetime. Gomelsky listed a number of bridal jewelry designers, influencers, and curators who have perfected the art of promoting and selling jewelry on Instagram, including @maggisimpkins, @theclearcut, and @planfully.events.
Bridal jewelry sellers must also take note of calls for diversity and inclusion and ensure their wedding marketing and messaging represents a mix of ethnicities, ages, and genders.
“Don’t pigeonhole your clients,” said Severine Ferrari, founder of Engagement 101. “Using imagery that’s not your classic all-American straight couple shows you’re much more open. The more you show people what’s possible, the more opportunities you create for your business.”
Finally, Gomelsky recapped current engagement ring trends, including contemporary solitaires in yellow gold, preset colored stone engagement rings that retail for $5,000 and under, and rings made of materials that can be proven to have been sourced responsibly.
“There’s been a lot of talk about sustainability in the jewelry industry in recent years,” she said. “My first thought as the pandemic struck was that this conversation would be shelved as people focused on more pressing matters. But as it turns out, the focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing has only intensified.”
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