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Soapbox & Opinions

Let’s communicate – if only it was that easy!

Contact is key when it comes to retail, but too many retailers – and suppliers – are overwhelmed by the many different channels of communication, writes JOSHUA ZARB.

Like all of us, I have a deep love and passion for the jewellery industry – so much so that I decided to put everything on the line right as COVID-19 hit in 2020 and start, from scratch, what is now one of four buying groups within Australia.

From the moment we launched, I had never been more motivated to try and assist independent jewellery businesses with anything and everything to assist them to thrive in the modern retail landscape.

With that in mind, during this time I have witnessed an ever-increasing divide between those business owners who have adapted to the digital jewellery landscape and those that have not.

Whether we like or not, our customers have changed the way they communicate with us, and we are now forced to step up to the plate and provide levels of communication and service that simply didn’t exist as little as five years ago.

Now, I am by no means a 'tech head' and this article isn’t about why we all need to be Facebook experts; but I am 44 years old and fall into a unique age bracket that allows me to understand both sides of the digital ‘fence’.

I grew up riding push bikes, going to the beach and kicking a football for fun and I didn’t get my first proper computer until I was in my first year at university – but I was forced to use one from that moment onwards.

I feel extremely lucky that I grew up meeting people face to face and having to pluck up the courage to ask for dates in person – I can’t even imagine swiping right on a mobile phone in order to have a fun Saturday night! – because it taught me skills useful in both life and business.

Yet I still want to encourage retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers to learn about the different ways to communicate with customers that may not come as naturally as they do to the younger generations.

It’s easy to feel like a jack-of-all-trades just to keep up with all the requests that come in each day.

As an example, as I write this my phone has ‘dinged’ six different ways. I need to be able to understand what these different notifications mean, where they come from, how quickly I need to respond, and in which order.

Meanwhile, one of IJC’s retailers has sent me an Instagram message to see if I know where to source a particular style of hoop earring, and I also have several new emails to respond to – as if I didn’t have enough to deal with!

This example is relevant to both retailers and suppliers.

Retailers, in particular, need to at least understand all the ways in which their customers will reach out and contact them.

In addition to all the above, if I were a retailer, I could have simultaneously received a sale notification from my e-commerce platform, a live chat message via the website through a service like Podium, or a good old-fashioned phone call from a customer.

We all need to be ready to respond in different ways.

For suppliers, it’s a little easier – they can simply ask retailers how they prefer to be contacted, take a note of it, and stick with that.

Name: Joshua Zarb
Business: Independent Jewellers Collective
Position: CEO
Location: Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: 17


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