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Michael Grimaldi, managing director at Michael’s Showcase Jewellers
Michael Grimaldi, managing director at Michael’s Showcase Jewellers
 










Outsmarting the smartphone

I have been in this industry for 30 years. My father was in the industry for 60 years and his father was in it before him. Times change and so too do shopping habits.

These days we have a new breed of customer and a new shopping modus operandi that is becoming harder to compete with: the mobile phone, internet shopping and branding galore.

Let me paint a picture, one with which I’m sure you’re all familiar. The customers come into the store, try stuff on, wear the pieces and ask you all about them. Not long after, you’re in your local coffee shop and here they are again, using their smartphone to view online all the gear they just played “Twenty questions” about with you.

But wait, there’s more! One week later they have the cheek to come in and want that piece, the one they bought online, fitted or adjusted.

So what are you going to do? I charge 15 bucks for a watchband resize. Hey, I’ve got people I need to pay. They seem to be OK with it now but one year ago when I started charging, boy did I get some shocked faces.

Once upon a time I stocked almost a full range of Citizen, Seiko, Adec, Pulsar, Bulova, Guess, Police, Cat and several other watches. I had a whole wall of timepieces. Not anymore. Try one third of a wall now.

You see people try them on, go online and presto, a watch from overseas in less than one week. My order to suppliers can take two weeks.

The big squeeze is biting in. We see more closures of businesses and we have seen the fall of long-established retail outlets. I know a lot of fellow retailers are feeling it.

American online stores are relentless. Prices seem too good to be true and, for the most part, they actually are. I have seen engagement rings featuring diamonds with more fluorescence than a 1980s high school dance.

Everyone these days seems so smart, shopping online using their smartphones.

So what are you going to do about it? Outsmart them of course!

Converting an online shopper can be easy. You see we have an upper hand in that we are face-to-face, we are helpful and we are approachable. How many times do you hear about the lousy “onliner” with non-existent after sale service?

As bricks-and-mortar retailers, we offer what an online store can’t. We can service our customers, maintain their jewellery and we are honest. Heck, even some online retailers have cottoned on to the fact and established their own physical outlets.
I spend a lot of time training staff about gemstones, diamonds, grading, how to clean them, what to look out for.

Then we spend time expanding staff knowledge and working on customer service. We discuss how to handle difficult customers and how to help customers with difficult choices.

I have been part of the Showcase Jewellers buying group for more than 35 years and they have the most excellent online training and worksheets. My staff love it and it has actually inspired them with up-sales and other aspects of their work.

Why not also steal some ideas from our online competitors? Technology is integral to the way people shop so bricks-and-mortar retailers would do well to also embrace the digital world.

At my business, we are now looking into apps that are available to us. One in particular is the Countersketch CAD training app from Gemvision. Very handy stuff and even our customers can download it. Other apps such as Pandora are also good tools when conversing with consumers.

As jewellers we have to stick together a bit more now days. I never badmouth another jeweller; it makes us look bad. I don’t like to badmouth the internet either as it looks like sour grapes and that I am hiding something.

Yes, the era of the smartphone has brought about challenges for jewellers.

Ironically, it could be said the internet has made people dumber, however, there’s no point complaining.

You may or may not agree with me and I’m not saying it’s going to be easy but let’s show that smartphone who’s boss by working harder and, most importantly, smarter. 

Michael Grimaldi, managing director at Michael’s Showcase Jewellers, Mount Isa, Queensland, 30 years in the industry










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Thursday, 12 December, 2019 09:17am
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