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The jewellery industry is blessed with a rich history; however, when you rely on convention it’s easy to get stuck in your ways.
The jewellery industry is blessed with a rich history; however, when you rely on convention it’s easy to get stuck in your ways.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often

The jewellery industry is blessed with a rich history; however, when you rely on convention it’s easy to get stuck in your ways. NICOLE BENDER encourages you to embrace change within your business.

Embarking on a new adventure can be unnerving and challenging at the best of times. If we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that embracing change in the jewellery business is crucial.

This was particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses learned that surviving and thriving by pivoting and embracing change is not a choice; it’s a necessity.

Before joining Dialog and stepping into the wonderful world of diamonds, I worked in the pearl industry for 30 years – spending time with Kailis Jewellery, Australian Pearl Centre and Autore.

Ten years ago, if someone had suggested you could buy pearls from a supplier over the Internet or even by simply viewing a video, people would have laughed at you.

Veterans of the industry would’ve been quick to list the many reasons why people would never do that.

You’d even hear those dreaded words — "that’s just not how things are done!"

Fast-forward to 2020 and beyond, and all the major pearl farmers are hosting online auctions. It’s become an industry standard.

The pearl industry is thriving at the moment, and the important players have all embraced the need for online sales. The industry was ‘pushed’ into this practice by the pandemic, but we understand today that it was necessary.

I recently embarked on my own personal change, making the decision to move out of pearls and into diamonds. One thing I’ve noticed is that while the product is obviously different, there are many similarities between these two industries.

The foundation of this industry is based on relationships and trust. Mutually beneficial relationships are worth their weight in gold – no pun intended - and it’s important to build strong personal connections with the people you work with and your customers.

These character traits are the most valuable resources in business and are certainly transferable skills regardless of the difference in products and companies.

That said, the desire for trust can be a double-edged sword. How often do you dismiss an interesting idea out of the gate because "it’s too good to be true"?

How often have you been presented with a solution to a problem faced by your business, only to stop and ask yourself, "what’s the catch?"

It’s healthy to be cautious – there’s a great deal at stake; however, we can’t close the door to new opportunities simultaneously.

"The foundation of this industry is based on relationships and trust."

When speaking with retailers in recent months, I’ve heard similar pain points that affect their ability to compete and remain profitable in an evolving industry.

These include issues with dead inventory, declining margins, and the impact of increasing e-commerce rivals.

These are just a handful of problems impacting independent retailers.

While I would never claim to have the solution to all these problems, one suggestion is that you invest time into exploring new opportunities and ways to do something differently.  

To fix an issue, you need to understand it, and by exploring the data your store collects, you might be surprised by what you find.

During the downtime of the pandemic, many retailers and suppliers began to experiment with sales analysis, searching for ways to refine their business.

Yes, it can be time-intensive; however, discerning the cause of issues in your business can be challenging when you’re working at the coalface daily. It can be difficult to see the forest for the trees.

I’ve seen this many times – particularly during sales and production meetings.

Forecasts are reviewed in preparation for upcoming orders, and more often than not, the products the sales team thinks are the best-sellers are, in fact, not!

When we look at the data and break down the actual number, we’re often surprised at how much our perception can differ from the cold, hard facts.

Since joining Dialog, the world’s first diamond subscription service provider, I’ve come to deeply appreciate this approach to business.

It’s just one of the services we provide; however, taking this dedicated approach to analytics is something I’ve enjoyed.

And that’s something I never would’ve learned if I hadn’t been willing to make the leap from pearls to diamonds!

Only through a thorough analysis can you make informed decisions, and it’s only when we challenge ourselves and push the boundaries of what is achievable that great things can happen.

Of course, some people are quicker than others to embrace change or try something new, and that’s completely fine – that’s human nature and what makes us all so different and unique.

For the rest of us, however, often taking the first leap of faith is the hardest. It was daunting to make the transition from pearls to diamonds after three decades; however; it was a change I’m so glad I made.

We can only truly grow if we’re willing to try something new and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone.

Embracing change is always daunting; however, I promise it will be worth it.

Name: Nicole Bender
Business: Dialog/HRA Group
Position: Sales director
Location: Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: 31



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