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Editor's Desk

Understanding this rollercoaster ride

As 2017 draws to an end, it’s hard to recall a more eventful year for the Australian jewellery industry. It has undergone massive change and it’s difficult to know in which direction it’s headed. In fact, many would argue that the local market has experienced the greatest change on record.

I am sure most readers are just waiting for this year to be over and are looking forward to the New Year period.

The term ‘New Normal’ is increasingly being used as a way to define the current trading climate. It became popular following the 2007-2008 global financial crisis and the aftermath of the 2008–2012 global recession, which Australia largely avoided.

A huge convergence in retail has been happening for some time as businesses shift to test different models in the new digital world – online retailers are opening bricks-and-mortar stores; traditional retailers are attempting to compete with their own – albeit small – online models; and large retailers are converting physical store locations into semi-distribution hubs.

The truth is the retail industry has never stopped changing; however, it’s just that right now we are perhaps in the middle of the greatest change ever experienced, in part because of the speed at which it’s occurring.

"The retail industry has never stopped changing; however, it’s just that right now we are perhaps in the middle of the greatest change ever experienced"

What retailers need to be aware of today is that the customer ‘journey’ – the manner in which they decide to buy and then make a final purchase – has altered given there are more touch points along the route, with customers treating different channels as short stops on their way to making a final purchase. It’s complex to say the least.

With this in mind, the Jeweller team decided that our December issue should take a slightly different approach by featuring a number of in-depth articles offering insight on the state of the market and how retailers can better understand the changes.

David Allen, the former president of Pandora Australia and New Zealand who now heads up Pandora’s Europe, Middle East and Africa regions, has long been an advocate for defining what a great customer experience actually means. He asks, “If being obsessed with their customers is the key to success, why aren’t more retailers outrageously successful?”

It’s a good question and surely the answer is simple, right? Well, no, because customer obsession is subjective, and worse, part of the problem for our industry is the average age of storeowners. Running a business 10 to 20 years ago with the aim of customer satisfaction (the old term) was relatively easy because the environment was far simpler; however, with so many retail choices and channels now available, understanding customer satisfaction (experience) is hard enough – let alone trying to achieve it!

Nationwide Jewellers managing director Colin Pocklington has been tracking Australian jewellery and watch sales since 1982 as a way to keep his buying group members informed. He acknowledges the ‘New Normal’ and lists five megatrends that are driving disruption not only throughout the jewellery industry but also the wider community.

Pocklington believes that with less foot traffic, jewellers have to find a way to increase their hit rate for the customers that do walk through the door.

Diamonds have traditionally been a large driver of jewellery store sales so this month we offer insight into the current state of the market, and who better to look inside the international diamond landscape than Martin Rapaport?

I caught up with the self-described ‘maverick’ for a one-on-one interview a few months ago, knowing full well that he is not backwards in coming forwards with his views, no matter how controversial they may be!

For example, when discussing the topic of synthetic diamonds, Rapaport says despite their powerful marketing campaigns, synthetics are not identical to natural diamonds and consumers are being misled because there is no natural scarcity.

He has a lot more to say, as you will discover, so sit back, strap yourself in and hold on tight. The rollercoaster ride has begun.

Coleby Nicholson • Managing Editor

Managing Editor • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson is publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine. 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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Monday, 26 August, 2019 10:40am
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