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It’s time to build a cross-generational bridge

The jewellery industry is facing the challenge of generational change – and it’s a case of evolve or get left behind, writes RICHARD MAYO.

The jewellery industry goes backs centuries and is an industry that is very much set on relationships and tradition. However, just because the jewellery industry is traditional, that doesn’t mean our systems and processes have to be.

Over the last decade there has been a major shift in technological and digital capabilities which has changed the way consumers interact – and expect to interact – with businesses.

I recently joined my family’s 34-year-old business, Jewellery Services, which is New Zealand’s largest jewellery workshop. We have been providing quality services to the jewellery trade since 1986.

Our story is similar to many in the jewellery industry: traditional, family-owned and operated, and built by relationships that have been forged over decades.

I knew very little about the jewellery industry before joining it, apart from stories told over the kitchen table.

However, my background in transformation – that is, identifying opportunities for businesses and bringing them to fruition – allows me to see the challenges our industry could face if we don’t start planning and evolving.

The jewellery industry is mostly led by my father’s generation and there is, for many, a question mark about who will lead going forward. What will the succession look like in family businesses, or when those businesses are sold?

What will happen to those decades-old relationships when that generation retires, and a cross-generational handover occurs?

Millennials are digital-first and digital- focused, in business as well as in their everyday lives and shopping habits, and industry suppliers need to adapt to suit that reality.

How will the next generation lead these businesses if they can’t rely on these old relationships?

It’s not just the way of doing business that is traditional; the operations and processes in many jewellery businesses are equally so.

Coming from the fast-paced world of consumer electronics, I’ve been surprised that some businesses almost seem reluctant to change or to invest in technology. In some instances, we are still receiving invoices printed on a dot- matrix printer!

This isn’t about change for change’s sake, this is about acknowledging that a key responsibility of any business owner is to ensure they, and their business, don’t get left behind.

Millennials are digital-first and digital- focused, in business as well as in their everyday lives and shopping habits, and industry suppliers need to adapt to suit that reality.

These Millennials are the future owners of our businesses and will demand from their industry partners the same level of interaction they get in their personal lives.

My focus at Jewellery Services is about making the whole process of servicing the jewellery industry user-friendly, simple, and efficient, with more of a digital focus and building those relationships – beyond just the current leadership, who are approaching retirement, and making things easier for the next generation.

Over the past three months, during the COVID-19 period, we have been working hard on upgrading our core systems to enable us to provide a higher level of service to the jewellery industry.

We have merged two legacy systems into a single, cloud-based solution. This enables us to store more information about our jobs, reduce pricing complexity and automate many parts of our day-to-day workload.

It was a fundamental change, but it has given us a solid foundation to build up our business over the next few years.

That’s a lesson that other businesses – particularly small, family-owned enterprises – can take away and apply to their own operations. There are real benefits to investing in and upgrading the technology you use every day.

Retailers have had to evolve over the last decade and are now continuously innovating to meet consumers’ demands and needs. The reality is that the supplier side of the industry has some catching up to do. So, are you and your business ready for a generational change?

 

Name: Richard Mayo
Company: Jewellery Services
Position: Director
Location: Auckland, NZ
Years in Industry: 1

 

 

 

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