A few weeks ago, I read a book every jewelry store owner should read: Retail Revival by Doug Stephens. It’s about today’s customer, millennials (who outnumber baby boomers), how they shop and what you can do.

One page got me. The writer mentioned that his college-age daughter frequented a nightclub. It’s a house, mingled in with other residential homes on the street. The neighbors complained about the loud music at night, so what did they do?

They handed out wireless headphones. The club’s music comes out of the headset, not loudspeakers. Play the music as loud as you like. You go in, people are bouncing around, and there’s not a single note of music, except from the headphones. It’s a wild look on your first visit. Neighbors are happy, and the place is busier than ever.

What could you do that’s innovative?

Another thing I got out of this book was that younger customers don’t collect “things” as we did. They like experiences. But they won’t just compare your shopping experience with that of other jewelry stores. They will compare it against the shopping experiences in their grocer, clothing store and electronics stores like Apple.

When I had my store 100 years ago, I wanted my jewelers, waxer, polisher and shop foreman to not just think the way we did it. I was always telling them the way I wanted to see things.

So I decided we all needed an outside opinion. Close by was a high-end mall. I called five stores there and asked if it was OK if I brought my shop staff by to see their jewelry. I wanted my team to see other workmanship.

The first store was an estate store and they gave us 10 minutes, allowing us to use a 10-power loupe to see the workmanship. I wanted the staff to look at the setting as well as the backside and how well it was polished.

The friendliest store was Ross-Simons. We louped everything and my staff got to see different qualities of jewelry, how the store’s staff presented the items, and how the staff worked with people.

To check our store out, we offered someone $1,500 toward a custom design job to mystery-shop us. We gave a sheet to the mystery customer to evaluate:

  • How well did the salesperson do in designing, handling objections and in the sale overall?
  • Was the wax ready to view on time?
  • When they called to check on the job, how did the staff handle everything?
  • Was the job delivered on time?
  • Did she like what we made and the craftsmanship?
  • Was there any follow-up, and was a thank-you note sent?

The staff didn’t know until a week later that I had had us shopped. The customer gave us an A+. Personally, I was hoping for some failure to use as a learning point, and you’re probably better off if your mystery shopper is a little more critical.

The other thing you need to do is get out of your store and visit a retailer that is not another jeweler. Take your staff out to look at cool restaurants, expensive shoe and handbag stores and other modern retailers. Electronic stores are cool places to get hip ideas. You never know where you’ll find the next big idea to take your shopping experience to the next level.


David Geller is a consultant to jewelers on store management. Email him at dgellerbellsouth.net.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 edition of INSTORE.



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