Pearls of Wisdom

Joel Schechter and Ralph Rossini, CEO and president, respectively, of Honora Pearls, recently discussed what’s working well and what needs to change in the jewelry business as well as common mistakes even the best retailers occasionally make.

The words trust, fun, and fashionable were used time and again in our discussion. Focusing first on trust, retailers need to move forward with the key vendors they trust and reinforce their business commitments to them. Consumers are savvy and will sense if you don’t have faith in the products you sell. You may move a dog that’s been sitting around forever, but your chances of selling another piece to that customer will be severely diminished.

Schechter and Rossini agreed that the best retailers immediately reorder and pay promptly for those products to ensure they’re always in stock. Many retailers, however, abuse that concept. Money from the sales of a better-selling product line is often diverted to pay another vendor, moving the successful vendor down the line for payment. This chips away at trust.

Honora’s most successful retailers relentlessly focus on selling products with a high perceived value and a “reasonable” price point, regardless of where a piece falls in the store’s price range. The idea is to provide inherent quality for the price. By selling the product’s attributes, price becomes an easy discussion element rather than a sticking point.

Offering a wider range of prices gives your sales staff the opportunity to initiate a purchase. By expanding price options, you change your customer’s mindset from the occasional purchase of “significant moment” gifts to more frequently stopping in for a quick shot of fashion. Think about how department stores have changed from stuffy merchandise to dynamic emporiums filled with fun micro-boutiques. As a result, the female self-purchaser is in her “accessories mode” and looking to build an ensemble of shoes, clothes, earrings (maybe bracelets and bangles?), makeup, and leather goods. For women with discretionary income, shopping is still a recreational sport.

If you’re not a source of fresh, fun, colorful, fashionable jewelry, you’ve walked your chance at a share of her wallet and left her to her own devices in the mall. (Some mall jewelers are already benefiting from being more fashionable and price-forward.)

To push yourself up the fashion/price learning curve, look at retailers like Victoria’s Secret, Coach, Swarovski, and Apple. QVC and the other home shopping networks also can help you discover what’s selling right now in jewelry, across the price/value spectrum. Feedback is instantaneous, and if you watch regularly, you’ll see repeating best sellers, which will help sharpen your buying eye.