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Soapbox & Opinions


Expect the unexpected

ALAIN BLANAR suggests surprising customers with the unexpected.

If I were a consumer looking to buy jewellery right now, the last place I would be heading is a jewellery store. There’s no point of difference between one store and another – same product; same high-profile brands; same marketing material, regardless of whether I’m in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Cairns, Innesvale or Ingham. It’s all so boring!

In these times of hard trading conditions, retailers find solace in sticking to well-known brands that they know will sell. This is not a problem in itself and branded jewellery lines shouldn’t be dismissed if they’re paying the bills; however, many jewellers sadly find themselves in a situation where they’re selling exactly the same stuff.

Where are the collections that are going to set the store apart from the other independents and big chains? Where are the pieces that will make a customer say, “Wow, I’ve never seen this before.”?

There seems to be hesitation to try something new and different. I believe the fear of losing money if product doesn’t sell is preventing jewellers from keeping an open mind but surely it’s an asset to possess an offering that a competitor doesn’t have.

After showing a range to a retailer for the first time, there’s often a dismissive remark along the lines of, “Nobody has ever asked me for this.”  That’s a difficult point for me to counteract but consider this: how can someone ask for something that they don’t know exists?

When one really thinks about it, the very foundation of sales is to create a need where a need did not previously exist and then to fill that need. Once a consumer enters a store, possibly because they know that it stocks a big brand like Pandora, I guarantee they will be looking to see what else is on offer; they’re looking for that point of difference.

Make it easy for them by giving other ranges some appropriate viewing space. Don’t place a few items in the corner on the off chance that someone might ask to see them. Promote the new designs in displays and windows.

Once again, how can someone know they want something if they don’t know it exists? We humans are intelligent creatures but we’re not mind readers.

It’s sad that more jewellers won’t introduce greater versatility into their product mix because it means suppliers like myself, whether we like it or not, are forced to enter gift shops and other types of retail outlets selling sterling silver pieces.

These are retailers that are in opposition to jewellers!

Speaking of opposition, why do so many independent jewellers seem to believe they have to compete against the big boys? To me this is a fallacy – the big boys are only competition if the independents are stocking the same brand names.

The little guys are pushing themselves into a price war and it’s changing the entire buying culture of the industry.

Firstly, the retailer has the perception that if the product isn’t cheap then it’s not going to sell. This seems crazy to me and I have a tonne of case studies proving so.

Retailers selling fashion jewellery are a good example. Dress shops, gift shops and similar stores will often say the price of our jewellery is too high, especially in comparison to their other ranges; however, when I manage to swing them around on the basis that the product will sell, I’m greeted with smiling faces at my next visit.

I get it. Chain stores are notorious for their discounts. Why would a consumer ever expect to pay full price when they can get a 50, 60 or 70 per cent discount at another store? They think they’ve bagged a real bargain even if this is not always the case.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is working to tighten the regulations regarding discounting and false advertising. Most people would have heard about the Zamel’s case, in which the company was found guilty of misleading consumers with two-price advertising. Hopefully smaller jewellery operations will learn from landmark rulings such as this – false advertising is a serious matter and jewellers can’t afford to be in breach of such laws.

This brings us back to the fact that price need not be the primary strategy used to gain an edge over competitors. Don’t be a bore. Have an interesting product mix. Excite customers with different options. Surprise them with the unexpected. I can guarantee that it is you who will be surprised by the results.

Name: Alain Blanar
Business: Allucia
Position: managing director
Location: Helensvale, Queensland
Years in the industry: 30

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Wednesday, 29 January, 2020 05:00pm
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