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Head On #1: Getting To ‘Win-Win’ |  February 16, 2017 (2 comments)


Merrick, NY—I started my career writing for National Jeweler magazine in April 1977, and was a full-time reporter and editor for trade magazines into 1983. I wrote a column called “Strategic View” in the 1990's as publisher of National Jeweler. When we started The Centurion Newsletter in 2001, I wrote many of the articles for the first 10 years.

Now I am very excited to get back to writing! I’m calling my new column “Head On,” and it's all about tackling the issues of our industry as a team.

Why? Because there is a lot happening in the industry today and everything is changing and evolving daily. And also because after thousands of visits to our nation's fine jewelry stores and endless conversations with many of the bright people who make up our business, I have begun to understand some of what makes the fine jewelry industry tick.

The rules for this column are simple. I'm going to strive to put out the truth as I see it on many issues facing the industry. My position is that the industry's retailers and manufacturers and designers need to work together to solve and innovate our way through our challenges. If you have an opinion on what I write, PLEASE comment at the bottom of the article. If you think I'm wrong, CALL ME ON IT. If you think I'm right, SHARE my articles with those you think need to see them.

Focus On Win-Win. So here we are in 2017 and it sure looks like retailers and vendors continue to need one another to succeed. There were a lot of worries that vendors would use the Internet to go direct and forget about the retailers. While there is some of that going on, and sometimes understandably when they don't get enough retailer support, the retailer's role as the best connection to the consumer has been borne out over and over again.

But the relationship between retailers and vendors has cracks in it which need to be repaired. The partnership needs to be rebuilt to survive the onslaught of uncertain times. 

For today, here are a couple of the key areas I hear complaints about that need much more of a win-win point of view from both sides:

Keep To Your Word. When I first got involved in this industry, it was all about trust. People bragged at how they could go to the bank with the word of the women and men they worked with. 

Today a lot has changed:

Payment and payment terms are another big flashpoint. Regardless of what is said and agreed to, vendors are fed up with the number of times that retailers don't keep to their word on payment and leave them in a lurch.

My suggestion: We can't easily simplify the business world in which we operate, but what we can do is use candor in all cases with partner vendors and retailers. Take the time to explain your position and the challenges you face. Seek to create a Win-Win. But above all else, follow-through on whatever you agree to do as if your reputation rides on it, because it does.

Memo. It isn't free, yet for some vendors it is a good business model.

Non-memo vendors with great designs might be open to some memo for good asset accounts.

But in the interest of Win-Win, we need to focus on our mutual objective, which is to sell as much jewelry as we can as quickly as we can, while keeping stores exciting to the consumer. If a designer has amazing styling and a retailer loves the jewelry and believes they can sell it, the Win-Win is to buy and sell the jewelry rather than to make the priority fighting to get it on memo.

This kind of attitude shift would add a lot of creative inspiration to the design side of the industry, thus producing more and more outstanding, sellable designs. Win-Win.

That’s all for now. Look forward to visiting with you next week!

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Comments (2):

Wells said Howard

By Brian on Feb 16th, 2017 at 6:14pm

Hi Howard, good luck with the new column.  We have met on a few occasions. We are both Bronx boys! I have been in our industry since 1980.
I have been an Independent sales rep for 28 years. *****I hope you write about how a good SALES REP can help both the manufactures and the retailers WIN _WIN.***** Today it seems Sales Reps are the bottom of the barrel. Years ago we were <and still are> an important part of the equation between Manufactures and Retailers. Knowing the landscape of the territory and putting the right lines in the right stores. Today most reps are having a hard time keeping jobs <like Me>when we are the eyes and ears of the Manufacturers and help retailers by making sure that both parties keep to there word when a deal or sale is made. WIN -WIN.. all the best,
Mike Cassano

By Michael Cassano on Feb 17th, 2017 at 4:39pm

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