While every year brings change, this year seems to have brought more than most. At The Centurion, we know the retail landscape continues to evolve. To help you start out 2016 on the best note, we asked a variety of industry experts for their take on dealing with these changes. Each replied from their own viewpoint, offering strategies and insights into the changes the year ahead will bring. Our third installment, below, from longtime luxury industry expert Doug Gollan, explains why prestige jewelers are in an excellent position to compete with online and global branded luxury retailers. --Caroline Stanley
New York, NY—The big challenge for local market retailers is that while much of the world has changed, or seems to have changed, some of the key drivers that have made these businesses successful remain more important than ever. In “the fog of war,” it’s often easy to lose sight of what needs to stay the same when there is so much uncertainty about what needs to change.
Should I re-do my website? Do I need to offer e-commerce? Can I compete against online sellers that offer toll free numbers 24 hours a day? The brands I sell are now opening their own boutiques and competing with me!
Without doubt the Internet and the proliferation of branded luxury boutiques are issues that deserve attention. However, when one looks at potential threats it also galvanizes the strengths and opportunities better jewelers have over this competition if they focus on their strengths. Here are my recommendations:
Double down on service. As Jack Mitchell or Mitchells Richards has discussed in “Hug Your Customer,” service is an advantage local businesses have against web competitors and global megabrands who tend to have high turnover in their stores. In addition to putting a high value on owner and manager relationships, put your salespeople in a position to build relationships with customers.
Small is beautiful. While Google and the big luxury conglomerates have layers of management that scrutinize even the smallest of new initiatives, local jeweler owner-operators have the power of fast decision-making. That can mean sponsoring a local football team or donating to a local charity. Being fast is an advantage you have over the big boys!
Think local. While the mega-companies have the smartest MBAs and IT folks at their disposal, you have knowledge of your market. Use it. Create partnerships and alliances with local banks, auto dealers, restaurants, galleries and others who are also share a similar target customer. Partnerships are a great way to cross-promote between databases and acquire new customers at a low cost.
Be The Big Fish in a Small Pond. In your local market, you are probably one of the larger jewelers. Make noise via advertising on high visibility billboards, in local papers and magazines and sponsoring local events such as the July 4th fireworks or Labor Day barbeque at the town pool. Make sure everyone in your footprint knows when they need jewelry and watches, you are the place to go.
Use Digital To Communicate with Existing Customers. While many businesses use Google ad words and other tools to acquire new customers, digital is a great way to stay connected to current customers. Your customers are already on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for their personal use. Sign them up and offer them incentives and contests to follow you so that your posts will get visibility in their news feeds.
Use social media to show customers you are the expert. Make sure posts aren’t simply promotional. Offer tips and insights about buying jewelry and watches that will remind them that you have an expert team at their disposal, something both branded boutiques and Internet sellers are generally challenged.
While sometimes it may seem like the big companies have all of the tools, they don’t. And remember, even these big, successful companies have missteps. Does anyone remember Google Glass? Their weaknesses are your strengths. It’s up to you to exploit them.
Doug Gollan is an expert on marketing to Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) consumers. In 2001 he founded Elite Traveler, a magazine distributed aboard private jets, and is author of "The Sky's The Limit: Marketing To The New Jet Set" based on over 600 interviews with private jet owners. Last year his book “23 Ways To Create More Sales Opportunities in 25 Minutes” ranked Top 10 in 3 Amazon book categories. His next book is Sales Superstars: Secrets of Selling to the Super Rich. He currently is a consultant and was recently named as one of the 25 Best Luxury Digital Experts To Follow. His website is douggollan.com.