About five years ago, Danny Govberg, president of Govberg Jewelers, decided to treat technology as the thing that would drive his 100-year-old business another 100 years into the future. “As tech started to change, my friends would be outsourcing their technology to third parties like ad agencies,” he says. “Then they’d have a millennial take over their social media.” Instead of patchwork solutions, he embarked on a comprehensive program.

Idea: Building a Tech Department

As a third-generation store owner, Danny Govberg transformed a small jewelry store along Philadelphia’s historical Jewelers’ Row into a retail group with three locations in the Philadelphia area and a fourth in Cleveland. He also owns Yamron Jewelers, an intimate watch and jewelry boutique in Naples, FL, and is a partner in Radcliffe Jewelers, with two stores in the Baltimore  market.

When it came to hiring, instead of adding more watchmakers or jewelers to his business, Govberg decided the key to controlling his own destiny was to employ digital engineers. After investing more than $1 million on the technology initiative, he has 20 employees on his in-house digital team, representing about a fifth of his workforce.

Then he put the team to work on the website, on social media and on developing a sticky app for his watch business.

“When a lot of people were going mobile or making websites responsive, that’s when I decided I wanted to come out with an app,” he says.


Danny Govberg invested $1 million-plus in a tech initiative.

Execution: Inventing a Sticky App

To make it sticky, Govberg’s watch app, called Govberg OnTime, invites users to educate themselves with aggregated watch industry news, upload their own personal watch collection with serial numbers and photos, determine the value of pre-owned watches, shop for pre-owned watches, and sell their watches to Govberg with a simple push of a button. “If you are in the world of watches, it gives you all the tools that you need,” he says. 


Rewards: Realizing 40% Growth

“The hardest thing to do is to get your app on somebody’s dearest real estate, which is their cellphone,” Govberg says. “We’ve gotten around 160,000 downloads. Right now about 71,000 people are actually using it. Our business is growing at around 40 percent a year.”

Beyond the app, controlling all of his technology in-house allows the business to act and react more quickly.

“A lot of people have outsourced their websites and design and may think how pretty the new website is,” Govberg says. “And they may be right. But at the end of the day, technology is changing so dramatically that I want to be in control of it on a daily basis. I don’t want to have to call up an agency to make a change.”

Govberg Jewelers' Cleveland store, one of four Govberg Jewelers branches now operating.

 

Do It Yourself: Integrate Tech Into Your Business

Build a business that is technology-enhanced. When considering selling merchandise online, think of it as integrated into your business and not as a separate, singular component. “People click and buy online, there is lead generation online, people come into your store after visiting you online, people get educated online, people phone you from online,” Govberg says. “Everything is online.”
 

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 edition of INSTORE.



 
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