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Editor's Desk

Fairfax & Roberts Jewellers then and now.
Fairfax & Roberts Jewellers then and now.

Jewellery store survival in a branded world

Last month I wrote about the shift to branded jewellery and noted that because of the speed of change these days there is almost no ‘norm’; I wrote that after positive change a new negative can quickly follow.

In analysing the branded jewellery evolution and the dramatic change it created, I suggested that the speed that a business recognises and adapts to a negative is what sets the successful apart from the not so successful.

That is, many jewellers only saw the positives in branded jewellery; the supplier was driving business to their store. They did not see the negative; the customer’s relationship was with the brand not the retailer, and they have not adapted their ways.

Under the ‘old’, unbranded product model the customer relied on the jeweller for product knowledge and direction, so the relationship was between the store and the customer. But when someone visits a store to buy Brand X all decisions have been made; the customer knows exactly what they want and the final place of purchase is often determined by price.

The resulting negative, and what many jewellers failed to recognise, is that the customer was not ‘theirs’. The customer was at the store because of their current, or intended, relationship with the brand, not the store!

"Branded product is great in good times and when there are lots of ‘free’ customers courtesy of the brand, but what about when sales slow down or customers aren’t returning to your store?"

Branded product is great in good times and when there are lots of ‘free’ customers courtesy of the brand, but what about when sales slow down or customers aren’t returning to your store? Jewellery has always been an emotional and/or aspirational purchase built on one-on-one customer service but much of that has been lost with the move towards branded product.

The positive might be ‘free’ customers but the challenge is to convince them to become loyal to your store. So how do you do that?

Well, the first thing you need to do is know who this new customer is – after all, you can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t know. In fact, it’s just like the rules of dating – you have to be able to contact the (potential) date in order to  ‘court’!

Therefore, to begin a relationship with this new customer of Brand X you need to get to know them and getting their email address is a good start. Personally, I have no problem with providing my contact details to a trusted and respected business. I won’t hand over any personal details to businesses that I think will endlessly email or phone me or do not have products I want.

So the key is to show the (new) customer there is a good reason for them staying in contact with your store. You could start by offering an email voucher for free jewellery cleaning, or perhaps you could offer to keep them updated about Brand X’s new products and latest ranges.

You need a valid and valuable reason for the new customer to grant you permission to contact them. But trust is important, so implicit in that ‘permission’ should be that you won’t endlessly hound them with non-relevant information and offers.

Once you have the initial contact details you can slowly gather more information about the customer from their age and birthday, through to marriage status, anniversaries and even their favourite football team. Only when you have this info can you begin to build an unobtrusive relationship with them, communicating on very specific issues.

While most jewellers conduct some form of mass marketing via advertising and catalogues, email and internet marketing can be far more personalised and relevant.

An ‘old’ world, shotgun approach is not acceptable in this new digital world.

And if you have enough customers of Brand X you could organise an in-store event in conjunction with the supplier. After all, these are committed and dedicated customers of the brand that can become loyal to your store’s personalised service.

And in this digital age therein lies the key to turning a negative into a positive: store survival depends on knowledgeable and personalised service. Nothing else matters.

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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