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Articles from COMPUTER SYSTEMS / SOFTWARE (28 Articles)











Retail Edge offers everything from electronic invoicing to trends and sales analysis, with the aim of taking the guesswork out of planning for the future.
Retail Edge offers everything from electronic invoicing to trends and sales analysis, with the aim of taking the guesswork out of planning for the future.

The jeweller’s digital tool belt

Today’s problems are tomorrow’s afterthoughts. SAMUEL ORD reviews several digital tools designed to reduce the headaches jewellery retailers face.

While adverse economic conditions may have presented jewellery retailers with many challenges this year, in reality, there’s never been a better time to be in business.

That might seem like an outrageous suggestion; however, it’s accurate. Indeed, the sky is the limit for retailers because of an ever-expanding arsenal of digital tools designed to take your business to the next level.

In the not-so-distant past, jewellers faced many impositions without the support of the internet.

"As the world became increasingly globalised and the influence of the internet increased, more effective solutions to the daily challenges faced by jewellers became available."

Manufacturing tools were expensive and in short demand, and because the jewellery trade is so family-orientated, it wasn’t uncommon for hammers, saws, and clamps to be passed from one generation to the next.

It was also difficult to ‘get the word out’ about your business and products.

These same jewellers relied heavily on word-of-mouth marketing and the loyalty of local customers before the invention of print, radio, television, and online marketing.

What about the organisation and administration of a business? Stock and sales were all documented and monitored with pen and paper – if at all – until the invention of computerised management programs.

As the world became increasingly globalised and the influence of the internet increased, more effective solutions to the daily challenges faced by jewellers became available.

The good news is that this access to the ‘problem solvers’ of the jewellery trade has only increased recently.

Indeed, it’s showing no signs of slowing down and as US founding father Benjamin Franklin once said: “The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.”

Profit in the fine print

Whether it be sales documentation or inventory management, retailers collect a significant paper trail daily.

Within this data is an opportunity to maximise the effectiveness of a business with thorough and dedicated analysis; however, because owners and managers are so often time-poor, it can be difficult to capitalise. 

Whether it be using the information to define strategies for improved sales in the future or simply reducing the costs associated with carrying slow-moving stock – the answer is usually buried in a pile of paperwork or a cluttered desktop.

Said another way, sales analysis is crucial to success; however, it’s time-consuming. Fortunately, there are businesses with a practical digital solution to this dilemma.



"A good tool improves the way you work. A great tool improves the way you think."
Jeff Duntemann, Author

An example is Retail Edge Consultants, a management consulting company that sourced impactful jewellery software due to demand from retailers dissatisfied with their existing practices.

Retail Edge offers everything from electronic invoicing to trends and sales analysis, with the aim of taking the guesswork out of planning for the future.

Within the past year, the company introduced Edge Pulse – a mobile application that allows business owners to access all the vital information from devices away from the store.

General manager Leon Van Megen explains that it’s a three-step process.

Acquisition: Collecting the data  via The Edge Point of Sale system. The system captures data from tickets scanned at POS or when the staff manually enters data.

Information: Data is transformed into practical information when the data is analysed and collated into reports.

The functionality in Edge Pulse has been refined to provide item-level detail for pricing, stock, units sold, sales, average sale, margins, discounting, goal setting, sales associate performance and much more. 

Action: Information itself only becomes useful when converted into action. Van Megen says that the results are precise – and claims that those who use the reports and convert that data and advice into action are more successful.



"In today’s ever-changing digital landscape, businesses across all industries are adapting and evolving to meet the increasing demands of online shoppers."
Cheryl Robichaux, Stuller

“The ability to segment data and report by department, supplier, sales associate, and many other metrics is where the big benefits are,” he says.

“For example, assessing margin performance by line, department, and supplier means an owner knows what is working and what is not. If, for example, the diamond ring category has seen sales drop, a jeweller might adjust their purchasing and change the sales focus to allow this.”

He added: “The best owners ‘live’ in their reports and make informed decisions. Unfortunately, most owners don’t, usually because they are short of time.”

The application has impressive mobile functionality, real-time statistics and all the data you might need while away from the store.

Areas of key focus for Retail Edge are improved financials, stock management, business expansion strategy, and staff performance, as well as retention advice.

“Accurate data input and collection is a critical starting point for informed decision making,” Van Megen continues.

“The application was built specifically for the jewellery industry; the system lets store owners get granular with their data.”

Elevate your artwork

Jewellery design can be a painstaking process; however, using digital programs takes less time and energy than ever.

Many digital jewellery design services are available online; however, not all computer-assisted design (CAD) programs are created equal.



"The ability to segment data and report by department, supplier, sales associate, and many other metrics is where the big benefits are."
Leon Van Megen, Retail Edge Consultants

Among them is LST Group’s 3Design, designed to emphasise the importance of time for jewellers.

It’s a program that has been developed and refined over the past two decades, and 3D product manager Chris Hill told Jeweller this process had led to a product that is easy and intuitive to use, even for those unfamiliar with CAD.

“There’s never been a more opportune moment to make a strategic investment in both you and your business by embracing the power of software,” he says.

“It’s a chance to supercharge your production capabilities and distinguish yourself from the competition.”

Next year, LST Group plans to launch 3Design V12, introducing various new features that will ‘breathe life’ into designs.

“Unlike traditional CAD programs that demand significant time and effort to master, our program accelerates your journey from novice to expert with its unparalleled ease of use,” Hill explains.

“The user-friendly platform empowers even the most seasoned jewellery designers to seamlessly transition from conceptual sketches to exquisite, finished models, all with a significantly reduced turnaround time.

“With 3Design, you can elevate your jewellery design process and effortlessly create your masterpieces.”

Imagination brought to life

CAD/CAM and 3D printing services have transformed the jewellery manufacturing process.

The good news is the Australian trade is spoiled for choice when it comes to casting and refining services -and these suppliers often use technology to gain an additional advantage.

Among those offering their services is Rapid Casting, based in Alexandria, NSW. What makes this company stand out from its competitors is cloud services, such as the Online CAD Design Portal.

The process is simple – jewellers upload a PDF, sketch, photo, or logo for a streamlined and efficient CAD design service.

Production manager Ben Farago says that while the system was launched in 2009, it has only become more refined and tailored to the users’ needs over time.

“We did it all in-house – handling all of the programming and development – and that means it’s perfectly fine-tuned for our business and, more importantly, our customers,” he tells Jeweller.

“These days, when people create software, it’s often done overseas or outsourced, and it can be difficult to get specific ideas across to developers. When we encounter a problem, it’s resolved immediately. We are sitting pretty with our system.”

The portal also offers immediate correspondence regarding the design stored in an online account so that jewellers receive up-to-date progress on a project – improving the ability to plan ahead of time.

Both 2D and 3D models of the jeweller’s design are available for inspection before final approval.

With the 3D model, retailers can rotate the piece and zoom in and out to ensure the design is correct.

“It’s all about ease of access for the customers,” Farago says.

“When we first began the project, we studied logistics companies where everything is tracked to see what we could learn. Many jewellers are still used to doing everything with little yellow envelopes in pigeon holes.

“We used logistics as our motivation for making it work quickly and efficiently. Our customers log into their account whenever they need to, and it tells them exactly where the job is.”

Turn the clock back

One of the most common complaints among jewellers is a lack of time while juggling various responsibilities.

To address this issue, it’s essential to ‘streamline’ tasks within a single system where possible. An avenue for this is a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Alox CRM was founded by Marion van der Krogt and is designed for independent jewellery business owners.

Retailers can use Alox CRM to track customer communications across social media, live chat, email and SMS, compiling all relevant information and communication history in a customer profile.

The program also allows you to automate and personalise your email marketing campaigns, so you don’t have to spend hours manually creating and sending emails.

Templates, suggested content and pre-built workflows are all offered to help jewellers attract more customers and increase repeat sales by working smarter, not harder.



"There’s never been a more opportune moment to make a strategic investment in both you and your business by embracing the power of software."
Chris Hill, LST Group

“Our aim is to help jewellers save time by automating many of their marketing, sales, and customer service tasks,” van der Krogt reveals.

“Our program frees up jewellers to focus on tasks they like doing best, working on the business or spending the time doing something else entirely.”

The program is a ‘turnkey’ solution, meaning that it is a complete CRM system that includes everything jewellers need to get started.

“Other providers give you the tools and wish you the best, whereas we offer the complete process and set-up. The program is also cloud-based, so jewellers and their staff can access it from anywhere with an internet connection,” she continues.

“On top of that, Alox CRM provides a variety of resources to ensure jewellers continue to successfully leverage the system in their business, including a comprehensive knowledge base, video tutorials, monthly masterclasses and a private 24/7 support channel.”

Like many other digital tools mentioned in this story, Alox CRM is consistently updated and refined. Next year, the company plans to expand the features and functionality tailored to jewellers’ needs.

This includes introducing a new ‘voting tool’ to collect users’ requests, upvotes, and feedback to inform our future development.

There will also be a new mobile app that makes it even easier for users to access the system when away from their store. 

Everything under the sun

There’s a tendency among retailers to acknowledge the importance of the internet while failing to embrace the extensive range of opportunities it presents entirely.

Most jewellery businesses have a website, and some offer an e-commerce alternative to shopping online. That’s usually where the story ends for most retailers!

With that said, there’s so much more to be offered online if you’re willing to think outside the box.

An example of one business that has shown itself to be willing to experiment in this regard is Stuller, which offers an expansive range of products and services for jewellers.

There’s everything from trend reports to diamond cutting, CAD/CAM services, imprinting, and customisation programs to guide the manufacturing of bespoke jewellery and analysis of the latest trends.

Stuller also offers an expansive library of resources and training programs online, elevating the business from a supplier to a ‘one-stop shop’ for retailers with a problem that needs solving.

“In today’s ever-changing digital landscape, businesses across all industries are adapting and evolving to meet the increasing demands of online shoppers,” writes Stuller’s Cheryl Robichaux.



"Our program frees up jewellers to focus on tasks they like doing best, working on the business or spending the time doing something else entirely."
Marion Van Der Krogt, Alox CRM

It once would’ve seemed impossible for a simple business to offer so many services; however, Stuller has shown that using the cloud and digital tools it’s achievable.

With that said, it’s worth asking the question – are there any ways that your business could expand its offering using the cloud?

Stuller isn’t the only business hoping to offer the solution to every problem a retailer may face.

Another example of a jewellery business willing to capitalise on the cloud’s opportunities is DSM Pacific, a diamond and jewellery wholesaler.

Offering services to businesses of all sizes, ‘DSM Technologies’ provides tools to handle many issues – whether it be website development, social media marketing, inventory management, or a customised back office system for administrative support.

The company also offers jewellery sketching, CAD design, and jewellery image editing.

It’s a similar story for Hong Kong-based Myndar, which specialises in the development of ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) solutions.

The company offers a range of innovative tools designed for both retail and distribution companies that aim to bring them increased profitability and improved security.

The cloud is utilised with Myndscape, a network that enables ongoing real-time data tracking and analysis of logistics and retail operations.

The platform is designed to improve understanding and increase efficiency across every facet of a business.

There’s also Myndquest - offering retailers comprehensive customer data from a variety of sources.

This data provides insightful prediction, identifying customers who are likely to make a purchase, their estimated amount of spending, their most desired products, timing of purchases, and much more.

MyndQUEST applies algorithms and artificial intelligence to interpret and analyse customers, products and market data.

See you in the cloud

The sky is the limit for retailers with increasing access to tools that can improve the effectiveness of their business.

That’s not to say there aren’t potentially negative factors to be mindful of. Security for cloud services is one of the most common causes for hesitancy for retailers.

In the event that there is a security breach, managing the issue is likely out of the hands of retailers.



"We used logistics as our motivation for making it work quickly and efficiently. Our customers log into their account whenever they need to, and it tells them exactly where the job is."
Ben Farago, Rapid Casting

There’s also the threat of ‘uncontrollable’ issues, such as a provider experiening unexpected delays or disruptions.

With that said, it’s important not to let the ‘negatives’ cloud your assessment of the positives these tools offer.

Automatic updates might be disruptive at times; however, they occur for a reason - these programs and services are constantly improving, which is a net positive for users.

Many of the services detailed offer customisation, meaning the tools can be tailored to suit the needs of your business.

Accessibility is vital, and these types of tools are often available from remote smartphones and tablets.

Tools are inanimate objects. Making the most of the opportunities these types of services afford is up to you. As US science fiction writer Jeff Duntemann once said: “A good tool improves the way you work. A great tool improves the way you think.”

Many retailers feel time-poor; however, making the most of the opportunities, these digital tools present a ‘fast track’ to a more streamlined and efficient work schedule.

It may be daunting at first, but eventually, these types of programs become second nature, and you find yourself asking: how did I ever run my business without them? 
 

QUICK GUIDE TO
Artificial Intelligence


After making a dramatic entrance to mainstream popularity late last year, artificial intelligence has taken the retail sector by storm, leaving many scrambling to keep up.

Put simply, artificial intelligence (AI) leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making functions of the human mind.

‘ChatGPT’ is an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI, which became a household name in 2022 as a rapidly expanding number of users found unique and creative ways to utilise the program.

Among those users were a number of retail businesses that utilised the program for everything from virtual shopping assistant services and automated customer service to writing copy for products.

The sweeping popularity of this emerging AI program generated discussion about the impact of similar programs on the global economy.

According to research from Goldman Sachs, as tools using natural language processing infiltrate their way into businesses, they could drive a $US7 trillion increase in global GDP and improve productivity by 1.5 per cent over the next 10 years.

Where can Artifical Intelligence help retailers?
  • Automated inventory management

  • CRM - Customer Relation Management

  • Customised design programs

  • E-commerce

  • Email marketing automation

  • Retail store staff management

  • Sales analysis

  • Trends forecasting

  • Diamond grading software

  • Guided product discovery for customers

  • Automated copywriting for products

It all comes down to decision making

When considering the benefits AI services may have for your business, it’s important to understand that offering faster and improved decision-making is central to each program.

The AI of today might be impressive; however, it isn’t magic. These programs don’t have the ability to make imaginative or creative decisions.

It’s in the analysis of data that AI discovers patterns and, in varying ways, is able to help businesses improve their operations.

With that said, where is your business most likely to benefit from the implementation of AI programs?

 

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