At Stuller’s Solutions Symposium in August, the consensus was that store owners who were nimble and easily responded to cyclical economy changes were the same ones who had embraced the developments that are defining the future of retail: prototypes, younger generations, and emerging technologies.
Steven Ginsberg, owner of Ginsberg Jewelers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has steadily been teaching customers that jewelry isn’t always a same-day purchase. “Roughly 40 to 50 percent of the bridal jewelry we sell has to be adjusted beyond sizing,” he says. “Waiting for a three- to 10-day delivery based on prototypes or custom work isn’t a stretch.”
Patience, as Ginsberg learned two summers ago, has its rewards. Flooding wiped out his downtown location in August 2008. Long before the new store opened in April 2010, the jeweler began working with Artco on a floor plan to incorporate cases designed for prototypes; open front and back displays allow for an interactive shopping experience. To acquaint customers with additional design software and CAD/CAM platforms, he ensured that the infrastructure was hard-wired for Internet access. Five large flat-screen monitors are connected to the store’s LAN. With online connections and networking capabilities with other store computers, Ginsberg can easily show renderings of custom designs or conduct speedy Web searches. “It all establishes an early comfort level,” he says.
Doug Meadows, owner of David Douglas Diamonds & Jewelry in Marietta, Ga., is also employing open display cases and doing more custom work with CounterSketch and Matrix. Most staffers quickly caught on to the changes with training. Shoppers were even easier to convert, thanks in part to the Ring-O-Bar, a tall, clear Plexiglas case featuring prototypes secured on a thin central cable. “Customers liked it a lot,” says Meadows. “And being located near the bridal counter is helping with sales in this category.”
And Meadows isn’t stopping there. He’s planting the seeds with the up-and-coming generation with Dazzling Diamonds for Moms, a Mother’s Day writing contest for first- to fifth-graders. Activities for high schoolers include a homecoming queen pendant-design contest and prom queen pageants. He also creates custom flip coins for every new team-sport season and works with school principals to reward top teachers with $50 gift cards. For adult customers, Meadows offers educational classes such as Diamond Buying 101.
Mary Sherwin, vice president of K-Jon’s Fine Jewelers in Atascadero, Calif., is growing a market presence with off-site events like a wedding expo at a local winery. “These events give more people access to our range of products and services,” says Sherwin. “Plus, such visits help add content to our Facebook profile, letting people know we’re out there serving our market.” In-store events like an Extreme Jewelry Makeover are bringing in more customers (and generating content for her social media websites). And, although Sherwin had never advertised on a billboard in the store’s 30 years, she reports that a current “Engage Her Passion” billboard promoting K-Jon’s bridal inventory has been a boost to business. Sometimes, planning for future sales is as simple as rethinking old strategies.