According to research conducted by online wedding site The Knot, last year between 30 percent and 40 percent of couples did not buy their wedding rings at the same place they bought their engagement ring. Jewelers have a huge opportunity and are simply not closing the potential for a sale on all three rings.
From a business perspective, this is galling, especially if the jeweler’s sales associates sold an engagement ring and then let the rest of the potential business walk out the door. We, as a collective retail industry, need to focus on closing this percentage and selling all three rings—her engagement ring plus both his and her wedding bands—at the same time, to capture a greater share of the available business that’s sitting across the counter from us.
It’s not surprising that a bride wants her husband to have the same metal, if not the same style of wedding ring, for the symmetry and the romantic symbolism the rings represent, according to Platinum Guild International. If the groom is in your store with the bride, you have an opportunity to get not only the additional ring sale but also a matching metals sale. If they walk out without having also selected the wedding rings, the groom may well opt for plain, nondescript rings while he’s out running errands at a Wal-Mart or Sears, rather than ones that match or coordinate with the bride’s engagement ring. The cost of the wedding rings is often less than the cost of a decent wedding cake for a good-size wedding reception, and the rings will be around a lot longer.
Should the happy couple clearly indicate that they are not yet ready to commit to all three rings, be prepared to ask for the rest of their ring business in a nice—but persuasive—fashion. Have some specially printed cards that entitle them to “preferred customer status.” When they are ready to purchase wedding rings, all they have to do is present this card at your store. Let them know you’ll set up a special appointment for a ring fitting closer to the wedding day. Offer a free cleaning and polishing of the engagement ring before the big day and extend a special “savings” (not a discount) to them, for other pieces of jewelry they might need for bridesmaids and groomsmen and the all-important mothers of the bride and groom.
Give them a second card that entitles them to a gift of a bottle of champagne from a local wine store. (Have different cards printed based on the value of the engagement ring they just bought, ranging from a good domestic California Moët for a nice engagement ring to a gorgeous bottle of Perrier-Jouët, with those romantic hand-painted flowers, for a significant diamond and platinum ring.) This goes one step beyond the nice gesture of popping a cork on a bottle of Asti Spumante in store and giving the happy couple a glass of bubbly plonk. (You can still pop a cork of bubbly in store, but give them the good stuff to take home and celebrate with their family and friends.)
A gift of champagne establishes your store’s commitment to making jewelry a special occasion and inspires customer loyalty. Equally important, it doesn’t telegraph to the customers that the wedding rings they’re looking at will be less expensive next time they come in, thus reinforcing your discussion of the store’s price/value principles. The beauty of this is that it also naturally opens the door to additional bridal-party jewelry sales if you treat the couple in a way that helps make the special moment even more special. She will tell her friends and family.
If you jump into the engagement ring/wedding ring opportunity gap—as PGI calls it—with creative gusto, you will capture more than your fair share of the bridal business. If you don’t, too many couples will leave the wedding rings to the last minute and settle for lesser rings somewhere else.