25 Holiday Survival Tips for Retail Jewelers

We’ve curated three months of expert tips guaranteed to take your holiday sales, marketing, and merchandising efforts to the next level. Here’s to peace, love, and big ticket gifts for everyone!

Sure, you know the drill. Every holiday, the rituals begin anew. Out comes the box of decorations, the seasonal sales staff roster, the DustBuster. But what about all the big (and little) holiday ideas that may not have occurred to you? Like calling all those customers you haven’t seen in years and urging them to have their jewelry appraised this month so their insurance accounts for the current high gold and diamond prices? Or dressing your November displays with heirloom squash draped with smoky colored gems to tell a harvest story? Or filling your store with the smell of fresh-baked ­cinnamon cookies in December to put people in the holiday shopping mood?

We’ve carefully selected these tips from experts across the industry so you know exactly what to do and when to do it. If we could hang up your twinkle lights, we’d do that, too. Unfortunately, you’re on your own with that one.

1. SALES: Make A List, Check It Twice
“Go over your mailing list, customer books, and wish lists. Follow up with people to tell them what events, trunk shows, and sales are coming up. Set up appointments. Average closing ratios skyrocket to 70 percent during the holidays, but it’s only for about 30 days. You have to take advantage of that time. ­Jewelers need to create a professional sense of urgency. Practice lines like, ‘This is the only one I have, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.’?”
Shane Decker, president, Ex-Sell-Ence

2. INVENTORY: Out With the Old
“Address aged inventory that cannot be stock-balanced. Lay out categories and re-merchandise items into price points that fit better. Any product that does not fit should be put on clearance for the season and highlighted in-case. Develop ‘spiffs’ for sales staff on clearance items with the goal to have it all gone by year-end.”
Abe Sherman, CEO, Buyer’s Intelligence Group (BIG)

3. MARKETING: First Impressions
“Before you consider advertising on [YouTube, Bing, or Google], remember: You will be directing consumers to your website. Your site has to be extremely creative. Most aren’t. That’s what you need to address.”
Phil Nulman, CEO, The Nulman Group

“When is the last time you pulled out your jewelry and wiped down your cases? Have the cases turned yellow from exposure to the lighting? All this is communicating subliminal messages to your consumer.”
Christina Barbier, visual ­merchandising ­consultant, Stuller

5. SOCIAL MEDIA: You’ve Got Email!
“Make sure you are leveraging your social media fans to join your email list. There are no guarantees anyone will see your updates on Facebook and Twitter, but it is difficult to miss an email. But only send messages to those who have opted in, or you may end up on the worst naughty list of all: the spam list.”
Michael Schechter, digital ­marketing director, Honora

6. SALES: Christmas Carrots
“Assess your incentive program. If you’re a salesperson and sell 25 percent more than everybody else, wouldn’t you want to be rewarded? Everybody needs a carrot.”
Leonard Zell, professional sales trainer

7. INVENTORY: Getting the Goods
“Announce the arrival of new collections in email blasts or mailings. Train staff to sell the features and benefits of the new product.”
Abe Sherman, BIG

8. PUBLICITY: Helpful Hints
“Read gift guides in the top consumer publications and high­light ­the jewelry that you carry. It doesn’t have to be the exact same piece—just similar ­silhouettes, colors.”
Michelle Orman, president, Last Word Communications

9. SALES: Hit the Floor
“Make sure either you or your manager are on the floor all the time and close enough to observe if a salesperson needs assistance—or to stop sales from walking out. Also, assist or take over a sale from salespeople who are taking too long to close.”
Leonard Zell, professional sales trainer

10. VISUAL MERCHANDISING: Earthly Delights
“In November, I’d go to Whole Foods and buy a ton of heirloom squash to put in display cases. Then I’d put smoky gems with earth colors to create a harvest story.”
Christina Barbier, Stuller

11. TRAINING: The Art of Selling
“Talk to your team about how to close the deal, how to negotiate, and how to add on sales. Talk to them about their attitudes—at Christmas, people want to see smiles. November is a time to step up dress codes. Look festive and professional.”
Shane Decker, Ex-Sell-Ence

12. EVENTS: Party On
“I like collaborating with other area businesses for in-store events. You could have a local wine shop give a tasting so your customers get ideas of what to serve at home. A cheese shop, pastry shop—you get the idea!”
Michelle Orman, Last Word Communications

13. INVENTORY: Turn and Burn
“Review sales of new collections. Reorder fast-selling items so the collection remains intact. Review sales of core items. Make sure core items are in stock for day-after-­Thanksgiving buying. Set up an online ­special for Black Monday.”
Abe Sherman, BIG

14. SOCIAL MEDIA: Photo Shop
“Share snapshots of your holiday decor and latest designs. Don’t have a great camera? Check out apps like Instagram. Their filters make it easy for even novice photographers to take great pictures. Ask your customers to share photos of how they make the most out of their holidays.”
Michael Schechter, Honora

15. MARKETING: See and Be Seen
“The more diversified your advertising, the better.… If money is no object, the ideal mix is social, cable TV, radio, and outdoor.”
Phil Nulman, The Nulman Group

16. EVENTS: Private Eyes
“Choose a handful of customers to have a private meet-and-greet outside of your store—an experience [with their favorite designer]. It will bond them to one another, and ­create loyalty for your store.”
Michelle Orman, Last Word Communications

17. SOCIAL MEDIA: Grin and Share It
“Many of you are just starting to receive holiday orders; use sites like Facebook to show customers what you’ve got. But be sure you don’t go overboard. When you share, make it something special.”
Michael Schechter, Honora

: The Sweet Smell of Success
“Cover the sweet spot: Stand 10 to 15 feet inside the door on the client’s right. Make sure the store smells festive; have cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, or apple cider on hand. Hire someone to vacuum every day. Don’t leave it to the sales staff. They have more important things to do.”
Shane Decker, Ex-Sell-Ence

19. INVENTORY: Working the Core
“Make sure you are fully stocked with core items like diamond studs and diamond pendants under $1,000. Make sure after Christmas you are stocked in core items, as people get gift cards and money.”
Abe Sherman, BIG
20. SALES: Data Stream
“Don’t forget to track your customer: names, addresses, and phone numbers. December is a great time to sell New Year’s Eve items to men, and [to] plant seeds for Valentine’s Day.”
Brad Huisken, president, IAS Training  

21. MARKETING: Direct Hit
“Make sure your email blasts are clear and incentive-driven. Avoid the words free or complimentary. They will either go in the spam folder or not be allowed in at all. Open with a subject that is relevant, creative, and value-driven. The subject line has to give them a reason to respond. Email a downloadable certificate with an expiration date.”
Phil Nulman, The Nulman Group

22. SALES: Addition Lessons
“December is the easiest time to create add-ons, but employees hesitate because they’re concerned they may lose the first sale. If they rush to close that sale, they are sending that customer out still in the mood to buy, perhaps from another store.”
Leonard Zell, professional sales trainer

23. SOCIAL MEDIA: Get in the Holiday Spirit
“The holidays have us so focused on selling that we often forget the excitement of the season. Be sure to bring that spirit into all of your social media plans. Take a moment away from featuring your latest offerings to talk about all of the holiday happenings in the store. Share or create your own traditions and take the time to ask them about their own. Make it about the season, not just the sale. The goal is to turn fans into paying customers, but you also want to make sure that they stick around for next year.”
Michael Schechter, Honora

“Tell a story with your Christmas theme. Whatever it is, commit to it. Pull in 10 generations of family ­portraits to help tell your story. Make it mean something. I once built a greenhouse to display Stuller ­jewelry. There were trays of succulents and moss to lay the ­jewelry upon. Organic elements always work. How gorgeous to display ­jewelry on a piece of fresh birch! Be creative with your merchandising.”
Christina Barbier, Stuller

25. PUBLICITY: Sweet Charity
“Figure out what charity galas are taking place in your community and get involved. Offer to outfit the host with jewelry from your store, offer a piece of jewelry to a silent auction, even coordinate a fashion show with a local clothing store. Be sure to write a press release explaining your involvement and get that out to your local media.”
Michelle Orman, Last Word Communications

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