For retailers looking to survive and thrive in 2018, it pays to sweat the small stuff. Modern consumers enjoy more ways than ever to browse and buy jewelry—on social media and through apps and Google searches, to name just a few.
But the spike in consumer entry points means today’s retailers need the dexterity of an octopus. After all, successful stores now exist on two planes—the physical and the virtual. So while your main entrance may be in order, your consumers are increasingly streaming in through the side doors.
How to keep up with it all? We’re here to help, with 50 ways to improve your jewelry retail business. These straight-talking suggestions were culled directly and indirectly from retail and jewelry industry leaders, social media and advertising, and big thinkers in the realm of customer experience. Here’s hoping these tips help take your business to new heights in 2018.
1. Invest in eye-catching window displays year-round, not just during the holidays. Your windows are your invitation to shoppers. (Pictured at top: window shopping at Sofia Kaman in Venice, Calif.)
2. Create an area in your store where customers can handle and test-drive product unassisted (think bracelet and ring bars).
3. Consider mixing super-popular vintage and estate pieces into your display of new jewelry. Top retailers—including Barneys New York and New York’s London Jewelers—do it already.
4. Rotate merchandise regularly to keep the store looking fresh for shoppers.
5. Try hosting non-jewelry events such as speed-dating nights and art receptions to introduce potential new customers to your store.
6. Create a consumer advisory council to meet twice a year to discuss product trends and customer experiences that appeal to them (spring for drinks and snacks!).
7. If you have a stand-alone store, join forces with neighboring retailers to create a splashy evening or weekend shopping event.
8. Collaborate with a local nonprofit on an in-store event that gives back to the community—for example, an animal adoption evening or a clothing or food drive.
9. Invite loyal customers to an evening of styling fun when they bring their own jewelry to mix and match with new pieces or to consult with your staff about a redesign. (Pictured: a 40th-anniversary fete at Tapper’s in Troy, Mich.)
STAFF AND TRAINING
10. Focus on product storytelling in your sales training. When your employees convey an item’s intrinsic value in an entertaining way, they won’t need to haggle.
11. Screen potential new staffers for talent and experience by quizzing them on sales scenarios during the interview.
12. Identify your employees’ selling styles—jewelry industry sales trainer Shane Decker defines them as “serpentine,” “missile,” and “sneak”—and train to those styles.
13. Bolster staff morale by weeding out sales associates who aren’t team players (for example, sales hogs and gossips).
14. Invite top sales associates to attend trade shows such as JCK Las Vegas—the experience stokes enthusiasm for the jewelry business that they will take back to your store.
15. Create a comfortable waiting area for your shoppers’ companions, even if you have room for only two cushy chairs and a small rug. (Pictured: inside Marissa Collections in Naples, Fla.)
16. Offer shoppers a local craft beer—a drink you’d serve in your home—instead of Champagne.
17. Ask if you can charge customers’ phones. Or add a USB charging station to your space, as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom have. (Pictured: a Nordstrom ChargeItSpot)
18. Buy a tablet or two expressly for clients’ kids to play with in the store. When children are happily occupied, their parents are more relaxed shoppers. (Pictured: kid-friendly tech toys)
19. Offer Skype video sessions for clients to create custom pieces or send in repairs, with an online sign-up for Skype appointments.
20. Hold a weekly sales meeting, covering a revolving list of topics that includes product, sales, and gemological education.
21. Experiment with direct mail campaigns featuring clear calls to action and incentives (discounts/deals).
22. Modernize your store’s dress code by embracing business casual. Studies indicate that millennials don’t like their salespeople in suits. (Pictured: a stylish—but still put-together—salesperson)
23. Work with employees to personalize customer greetings, bypassing the generic “How are you doing today?” opener.
24. Discover—and then address—your sales team’s closing rate by adding a traffic counter to your door.
25. Drive brick-and-mortar engagement by showcasing alluring products on your website marked as “in-store exclusives.”
26. Align your online and offline businesses by ensuring your website’s home page prominently displays your store’s address, phone number, and hours.
27. Redesign your e-commerce pages to feature large product images (show the pieces from multiple angles!) and minimal text.
28. Post your video content at night. A 2017 study by CoSchedule found that user engagement in video peaks at 9 p.m.
29. Verify your business on Google so it’s more searchable and will show up on Google Maps.
30. Add a rotating banner of suggested products, in the style of Sephora and Amazon, to your web product pages.
31. Offer free shipping and returns. You might have to hike your prices slightly, but these practices have become standard in contemporary retailing.
32. Host a photo contest—offering a covetable prize—on your website and social feeds to boost online engagement and drum up user-generated content.
33. Take a page from successful jewelry e-tailers and integrate an online tool that allows shoppers to personalize jewelry pieces, even if that customization is minimal.
34. Follow and study local and national style influencers on social media to stay on top of trends and in-demand styles. (Pictured: jewelry influencer Katerina Perez, here at JCK Las Vegas)
35. Add social share buttons to your product pages so shoppers can save and share styles on their social feeds.
36. Cultivate a mix of product shots and faces from your store on Instagram; the social platform revealed recently that posts with faces garner 38 percent more user engagement.
37. Cut down on your “social work” by finding cool, relevant content to aggregate for your feeds on Feedly, which searches content based on keywords.
38. Brainstorm high-click social content by browsing Google Trends, which reveals what people are talking about online.
39. Tag local influencers on social media so they see what you’re posting and can potentially re-post to their feeds.
40. Establish a YouTube channel, with the goal of posting one video a week to start.
41. Partner with a popular influencer (think local!), trading product for sponsored posts; start slow and invest minimally.
42. Add excitement to your Instagram by inviting influencers to “take over” your feed for a week (review all content before it’s posted).
43. Focus on paid posts on Facebook, as organic reach on the platform has dwindled to nil.
44. Experiment with selling special items directly off Instagram.
45. Spotlight your staffers (and their stories) on your social feeds. Millennials and Gen Zers want to know who’s behind the businesses they patronize.
46. Add Instagram Stories to your social media to-do list. The tool lets you showcase behind-the-scenes moments for 24 hours.
47. Do a New Year’s purge and cleaning of your store’s offices. Organization in any business starts from the top.
48. Replace antiseptic-smelling glass cleaner with a pleasantly (and not-too-strongly) scented natural one, and consider investing in a professional scent machine.
49. Look to Etsy and other marketplaces that feature bespoke products to find creative decor for the holidays—and year-round.
50. Beautify your space by assigning a staffer to buy flowers and create a pretty arrangement every week.
(Sofia Kaman window: courtesy of Sofia Kaman Fine Jewels; Tapper’s party: courtesy of Tapper’s; Marissa Collections: Heather Donlan; employee with customer: Julien L. Balmer/stocksy; child with tablet: Robert D. Barnes/Getty; charging station: courtesy of ChargeItSpot)