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Endless Jewelry
Endless Jewelry

Capitalise on white metal jewellery sales this Christmas

White metals have continued a winning streak with consumers in 2015, so what better time to capitalise on sales opportunities than the annual Christmas rush? EMILY MOBBS reports.

Jewellers might not be ready to face the music (or carols) but the all-important Christmas trading period is around the corner.

December is widely considered to be the busiest month of the year for retailers and according to early predictions, 2015 doesn’t look to be any different. What’s more, industry sentiments suggest it could be a particularly good season for jewellery and the ever-expanding white metals category.

National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Trevor Evans reports that total sales for this year’s Christmas period – covering the last two weeks of November and all of December – are forecast to be $44.5 billion, an increase of 4.2 per cent on 2014 figures.

Nikki Lissoni
Nikki Lissoni

“These estimates are very pleasing and are reflective of increased consumer confidence throughout 2015,” Evans says.

“Jewellery belongs to one of the strongest performing retail categories [footwear and personal accessories] of 2015, which has experienced double-digit growth since the 2014 Christmas period. The jewellery sector will no doubt benefit from what is projected to be another strong Christmas period.”

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Russell Zimmerman has similar sentiments: “Given the strong sales being seen in the clothing and accessories category over the past few months, the Christmas period is looking positive for jewellery retailers who can take a share of the growth that this area has been enjoying.

“With interest rates appearing to remain steady and a change of Australia’s leadership bringing renewed consumer confidence, we think Christmas 2015 should produce buoyant trade for the vast majority of Australian retailers.”

These positive projections arguably bode well for jewellers hoping to boost sales opportunities, especially within the white metals category.

Consensus from local suppliers is that the consumer’s thirst for white metals remains, and retailers would be wise to assess their sales strategies in this sector before the silly season begins.     

Why not embark on this white metals journey with sterling silver and stainless steel jewellery, which are often hot favourites on Christmas wishlists?

“As Christmas is such a key gifting time, silver and stainless steel jewellery will continue to be important and strong for the retail stores, with key price-points and general affordability for this type of product being a critical factor,” Phil Edwards, managing director of Thomas Sabo and Nikki Lissoni distributor Duraflex Group Australia (DGA), says.

Edwards emphasises the importance of preparation and believes it’s impossible for retailers to be “over-prepared”.

“We use the Sydney JAA International Jewellery Fair as the real launch pad and final preparation to make sure retailers have all their key stock orders placed. Specific Christmas promoting can start in the retail stores anywhere from early November,” he continues.

Najo founder Jo Tory, who says silver jewellery has always been a popular choice for Christmas gifts owing to factors such as its affordability and broad appeal, also points to November as the ideal time to begin spreading the holiday cheer.

“Here at Najo, we think the best time to start with Christmas promotions is the second week of November,” she says, adding, “Retailers have the time to prepare for Christmas gift ideas and promotions before the heavy rush in December, and to target their database with information about what is on offer. It also allows time for consumers to consider their Christmas purchases and the promotions that are available.”

Worth & Douglas
Worth & Douglas

According to Worth & Douglas head of sales and marketing Chris Worth, it’s never too early to plant the seed.

“Even if they [consumers] don’t buy today, they’ll hopefully remember your pieces as Christmas draws closer – even if that means using social media to begin slowly dropping ‘Christmas gift ideas’ as early as September,” he says. Perhaps a point to keep in mind for next year.

In-store promotions organised by suppliers, particularly those of branded jewellery ranges, are becoming an increasingly common strategy to help retailers grab a bigger slice of the Christmas sales pie.

This year, for example, Najo retail stockists will be able to leverage a gift with purchase in the form of a sterling silver bangle for customers who spend more than $150 on the brand’s product, while those that spend more than $199 on product from the

Thomas Sabo range will receive a complimentary 10-year anniversary Charm Club collection bracelet. 

It’s not only gift with purchase specials that can help drive sales. Peter Jakobsen, director of Endless Jewelry local distributor Nordic Jewellery, says there are plans in motion for several VIP events leading up to Christmas for retailers carrying the range.

He also explains that a sales staff ‘brand ambassador’ in charge of “championing” the brand will be selected from each store and that a new sterling silver collection will be released in time for Christmas.

“We are very excited about the new collections coming to the Australian and New Zealand markets,” Jakobsen says, adding that a sterling silver bracelet and charm range from the Jennifer Lopez Collection as well as new Christmas and Zodiac charm collections will be among the latest additions.

Peter W Beck
Peter W Beck

In-store events are also a focus for supplier Julie Sandlau, according to its Australia and New Zealand sales and brand manager Helen Martin.

“We will be hosting VIP evenings throughout November and early December with our existing retailers to showcase the complete collection to a special selection of invited customers,” Martin explains.

“These evenings allow customers to get immersed in the jewellery, hear the brand story and learn about the manufacturing prowess that is so unique to Julie Sandlau – all great opportunities for them to select Christmas presents whilst enjoying an evening out.”

Martin describes sales staff as the “most potent” component to ensuring in-store events are successful – provided they are well prepped and armed with simple selling ideas.

“The more staff are given short lists of ideas up to certain price-points, the more confident they will be in leading and closing sales by making helpful suggestions.”

While there can be many demands on the wallet at Christmas time, Protea Diamonds managing director Robin Sobel believes jewellers shouldn’t disregard suggesting higher-ticketed white metal items as gifts.

“They [retailers] need to have a unique range and they need to spend time on getting higher ticket items, more customers and more service for their customers. I think that’s the biggest problem the jewellery industry faces today – they’re looking for the easy sale,” he explains.

“Retailers need to carry a good range in the next level so they can [up-sell] to a customer instead of just selling a piece of silver jewellery. This helps to create a point of difference from the store down the road.”

Sobel, who says white gold jewellery sales represent 80 per cent of his business, states that pendants and huggie earrings are always top performers during the festive season and that he expects the supplier’s new 9-carat white gold and tanzanite range to be popular: “The new range is doing very well for us already. It’s flying out.”

Victor Donovic, managing director of Twin Plaza Metals, is another supplier who can attest to the opportunities afforded by jewellery pieces made from metals with higher price-points.

“Good performers at Christmas in white gold (other than wedding rings) are [pendants with] diamond-set names and initials along with our Names and Co collection,” he says, adding, “A new modern collection of carbon fibre rings designed especially for men is due to be released in November and is a winning formula when combined with white gold.”

Festive meets bridal

No one is denying the importance of investing time and energy on jewellery pieces that serve as obvious Christmas gift ideas but there’s another side to the white metal story that could also prove worthwhile. 

“Retailers should also remember that Christmas/holiday seasons are the times when couples shop together for engagement rings and wedding rings,” Peter W Beck marketing manager Laura Sawade says. “So by not having them on display, and in the window, they are potentially putting off couples who may be reluctant to ask if they have them in-store.”

Julie Sandlau
Julie Sandlau

Sawade explains that in her experience, retailers who place a large focus on staff training and education in regards to the properties and benefits of white metals during the silly season find the effort definitely pays off.  

“Stores often have extra casual staff during the busy season, so training them all and working on a buddy system with a more experienced member of staff can help increase the level of confidence when selling,” she advises.

In terms of additional resources designed to assist retailers with increasing sales during this trading period, Sawade notes that Peter W Beck recently introduced a new training manual that covers the properties of its metals and manufacturing process. “Our trade website, where retailers can quote and order online, is also very useful over the extended hours that come with the Christmas season.”

While on the topic of bridal, Abrazi, which made its debut at the 2015 Sydney International Jewellery Fair, is a jewellery offering designed specifically with the wedding party in mind.

“Market research shows that gifts for attendants and groomsmen are the last items to be purchased for the wedding, generally being used as a ‘thank you’. [Abrazi’s] collection is designed to capture a niche market within the fine jewellery sector, concentrating on marketing to maximise the lost opportunities of add-on sales,” Julie-Anne Bosworth, sales and marketing director of Abrazi Australia and New Zealand, explains.

The range embraces the white metal aesthetic, centring on rhodium-plated base metal pieces incorporating Swarovski crystals and sterling silver fittings.

Not all suppliers agree December is peak bridal sale time; however, many acknowledge that it marks the beginning of the wedding season and jewellers can benefit by considering these opportunities.

Bosworth says one way to potentially increase selling prospects is to make use of the Abrazi ‘I do’ retail stationery. The point-of-sale resource outlines the roles of a typical wedding party in an attempt to highlight the many people involved in the couple’s big day and the jewellery options available to them.

Whether consumers are in wedding or general Christmas mode, it appears there are several tips and tricks that can be used to increase white metal jewellery sales during the festive season. Retailers best get a jolly move on.

Protea Diamonds
Protea Diamonds
Twin Plaza Metals
Twin Plaza Metals

Emily Mobbs • Editor

Emily Mobbs is editor of Jeweller. She has more than 8 years' experience in trade publishing and reports on various aspects of the jewellery industry.

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Monday, 16 September, 2019 10:42am
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