Merrick, NY—As coronavirus fears mount and retailers grow more uncertain, what can jewelers do to minimize its impact on their business? In Part One of this series, we turned to leading industry experts for their take on the situation. Today, we present their best tips for forging ahead and selling jewelry not just now, but in any time of crisis or uncertainty.
Bill Boyajian of Carlsbad, CA-based Bill Boyajian Associates, recommended jewelers use what could potentially be a slow time to work on the business and do all the things they don’t normally have time to focus on. He also suggested trimming back hours if business is slow, to save on overhead. Additionally, “This is a time when your point of sale system really comes in handy. Use email to touch customers and clientele with birthdays and anniversaries as never before. Now is when CRM really earns its keep.” And, a sale event or a promotion can drive traffic when jewelers most need it, he reminds. “Now is a good time!”
Jeff Gordon of The Gordon Co. in Miami, FL, concurs. “Create promotions, events, sales etc.—anything that will keep bringing the consumer into your store!” Additionally:
- Offer discounts on repairs and free cleaning of jewelry and watch batteries.
- Improve your web site and begin to regularly reach out to your clients electronically. You must have a strong online presence during this period.
- Now is also a great time for jewelers to call their customers to let them know they’re thinking about them and concerned during this time. They can also promote online selling so people don’t need to leave the house to get a nice piece of jewelry at a good price.
- Reset your store’s planogram so when your clients do return in full force they see the changes made.
He also acknowledged a bit of self-promotion: “The Gordon Company’s ability to drive traffic in good and bad times has been tested and been very successful. It could be time for jewelers to consider a major sale event to ensure a good year of business.”
Bill Boyajian, left, and Jeff Gordon, right.
Send out an email blast to your customers to let them know your mission is to continue to service them and fulfill their needs while mitigating potential health risks, but also set expectations for customers, advises Sherry Smith, director of business development for The Edge Retail Academy.
"This virus is affecting all industries, and that includes factories, travel, shipping, etc. If you’re working on special orders you need to be fully transparent with your customers and communicate these potential delays." Have your salespeople utilize their devices to FaceTime and Skype with their customers and get as much business completed remotely as possible and with as little contact as necessary, she suggests.
Ellen Fruchtman, president of Ohio-based Fruchtman Marketing, says the most important thing to do right now is remove pain points for customers and don’t panic.
“If the news gets worse, what can we do for customers to alleviate pain? Buy online, do video chats, do concierge shopping, go to people’s homes, etc. Do different things than crowd shopping. If a couple is planning to get engaged, they still will, but their shopping process might change.”
Longer term, think three moves ahead—like a chess game—and have a strategy ready. Stay the course for now, she advises, but have a plan: “If things do X, we’ll do Y.”
This too shall pass, advises Lori Askew of California-based Vantage Group. And when it does, there will be pent-up demand, so clean your database and get ready to reach out to customers on important occasions.
Finally, while hand sanitizer isn’t going to boost your business, Boyajian and Smith both point out that extra cleanliness is important to both employees and customers.
“The airlines are reassuring their customers. So should all businesses,” says Boyajian.
Smith recommends strategically placing hand sanitizer around the showroom and directing staff to use it before showing jewelry--and to refrain from shaking hands. Consider an elbow bump or some other form of greeting.
"People are showing a fear of crowded spaces. Taking steps to assuage their concerns will demonstrate that you’re being proactive and that you care about your people, your customers, and your community," she says.