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Retail’s most powerful question for 2016

With the New Year underway, COLEBY NICHOLSON says jewellers should be taking inspiration from Emirates airline, which posed a vital question more than 10 years ago.

Last year was interesting and if your 2015 was anything like Jeweller’s, I think it displayed more than ever that you have to work harder to get the same result.

There is no more 'set and forget' – if you're running a business these days, not only do you have to be constantly on your toes but you have to do it 24/7!

In this digital age, standing still is going backwards.

I think 2015 showed us that in order to achieve the same result as the previous year we have to put in twice as much effort and, often, the things that have previously been successful no longer work as well.

Another thing I noted was that some people had a very good year while many others constantly bemoaned how tough business was.

One might say there’s nothing unusual about that; however, there never seemed to be a middle ground. Now, I’m sure there was but from where I was standing it appeared as though businesses were either having a great year or a tough year. It was the year of polar opposites!

The same old, same old reasons for bad times were offered – lack of consumer confidence, online shopping, two-speed economy, the Aussie dollar, the China slow-down and the European economic crisis.

The 'blame list' goes on, and I have written before that when I ask people why their business isn't trading well they point the finger at everyone else. It’s rare for someone to take personal responsibility for his or her problems.

It's always someone else's fault!

Don’t get me wrong, we (and most of the world) are not in economic boom times but in 2016 business owners will need to look more at themselves rather than their surroundings. Retailing and, more importantly, consumers are changing faster than in any other time in history.

Most of what you did, and the way you did it, say five years ago, is less relevant today. Customers are shopping differently; their priorities have changed and so the way retailers sell to them needs to change accordingly.

Sure, the core practices of great customer service never alter but that's only relevant when you have the customer standing in your store.

Getting them into the store has changed and analysing how and why they get there is much more important these days. To top it off, there are so many additional tasks to do and so many different ways to do them.

It’s a personal choice as to whether you choose the glass half full or the glass half empty approach to business but I think all of the changes are exciting. I don't profess to understand everything and where it's all headed; however, you have to admit it’s exciting times, especially if you don't listen to all the doomsayers!

For example, remember the bozos that predicted retail stores would close as a result of everyone wanting to shop via the internet because it was more convenient and cheaper?

They were wrong; people still love going to (physical) stores, provided there's a ‘good’ feeling attached to them.

Convenience is just one feeling.– there are many more such as guidance, expert advice, physical comparison and touch and feel. Oh yeah, let's not forget fun and enjoyment.

Online shopping is a transaction, visiting a store is experiential. And that's the one thing the internet hasn’t been able to replicate, the fun and enjoyment of shopping.

First time, last time

This brings me to one of my favourite television commercials (tvc) for Emirates airline in 2004. The tvc, part of the company’s Keep Discovering campaign, has no voiceover and simply features an elderly woman taking a helicopter ride before a powerful question is posed on screen: When was the last time you did something for the first time?

It ends with the words ‘Keep discovering’.

The message for jewellers is if everything around you is changing and your customers have so many new ways to shop then perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, “When was the last time I did something for the first time?”

More so than ever before retailers need to try new things. In this digital age you need to experiment, you need to look at areas of business differently and you need to be open to fresh ideas.

If shopping at a store is meant to be fun and enjoyable, what things will you do in 2016 to enhance the customer experience? Will you try news things or will you do exactly the same things this year as you did last year?

In a world where the internet is automating everything we do, including shopping, retailers need to offer the exact opposite. Not only do jewellers need to ensure that the shopping experience is enjoyable but they need to make sure it’s personal and, wherever possible, individualised.

Here are a few ideas for adding some fun into your year. None of them are new; however, they are worth considering:

  • VIP night
  • Cocktail evening
  • Pamper yourself day
  • School fundraiser night
  • Teen daughters' night
  • Local charity night
  • The boss is gone sale
  • Tell a friend gift cards
  • Lucky dips
  • Cross-promotion with another store

These are just a few simple ideas to illustrate that 2016 should be the year of trying new things.

Experiment with being experiential.

If this year is set to be as tough as 2015 then each month when you look at your trading results ask yourself, what did I do differently this month? Did I try new things?

Challenge yourself with that 12-word question from the Emirates ad – When was the last time you did something for the first time?

More importantly, don’t forget those additional last two words – Keep discovering. Shopping is meant to be personal and entertaining rather than a simple transaction; it should be something your customers tell their friends about.

Try something new. Do something for the first time in 2016 and ensure you’re offering customers something to keep discovering ... otherwise they will go somewhere else.




Coleby Nicholson

Former managing editor • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson was publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine for over 12 years. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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Tuesday, 14 July, 2020 10:45am
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