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Jeweler Makes Thoroughly Convincing Case for Brick-and-Mortar Retail

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It’s the small businesses that make a community.

[Editor’s note: This letter is a submission from Marc Majors of Sam L. Majors in Midland, TX.]

For years now we’ve been hearing about the rise of online shopping with consumerism turning toward the internet and how it’s going to negatively affect brick-and-mortar retailers. I honestly took little warning and didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it until 2017.

I’ve watched the trend get worse and worse but now it’s a two-headed monster and I have no idea how to slay it. With tremendous discounts and deals given and the promise to deliver in two days, it seems like this has appealed to people more than running down to your local retailer and buying what you need. Do people really think it’s more convenient to have something delivered to your doorstep than driving down the street? Have people been consumed with shopping for a price instead of a piece? Would you rather put something in your “shopping cart,” type in your credit card info and shipping address and hit “confirm”? Where is the pride in that?

There is none.

Look, I get it, some things you just can’t get locally, especially in smaller towns. I’m understanding of that. But if there is a nice store in your community that provides good products and services then why wouldn’t you buy locally?

Obviously, I’m a big fan of buying locally because I’m in retail, too, but what people don’t realize is that it’s the small businesses that build and make a community. And when you take your money elsewhere, like the internet, you are doing a disservice to your local community. You’re giving your business to an online retailer who could care less about who you are, what you’re about and your family. They don’t care if you come back or not. They have your money and they are done with you until you make another purchase from them.

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As a local retailer, I see you at restaurants, church and the grocery store. Our kids play together, they go to school together, we coach teams together, etc. Now why wouldn’t you want to support someone you know so well?

Take pride in what your community offers! Take pride in knowing that you’re supporting someone who turns around and supports the community. Take pride in knowing you bought a quality product from a local merchant who can answer any questions and take care of any customer service issues immediately.

Isn’t it more exciting to go shopping, talk directly to a human being, pick out exactly what you want, try it on if needed and walk out with your new purchase? Sure it is!


This piece is an INSTORE Online extra.

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Readers Sound Off On E-Commerce, Signet and Millennials

There’s hope in the form of Generation Z.

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Forward Revolution

The jewelry industry is undergoing significant changes because the concept of jewelry has changed. The very high-end luxury goods markets seem to be holding, but the squeezing of the middle class has changed disposable income. Who is buying the jewelry has changed as well. Self-purchasers prevail in this era of self (and selfie) celebration. These factors have evolved my purchasing and merchandising strategies. A pared-down inventory with only essential quick-sellers in understock coupled with targeted memo support is the new reality today for profitability. For their support, vendors must be viewed and treated as true business partners, not simply suppliers. This wasn’t how we did things in the past, but it has been instrumental in not just surviving but thriving. You adapt or die.

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E-commerce alone does not bring enough people through your door. We have found a way to give our clients the opportunity to do research on our website, narrow their selection and then come into our store for the final decision and purchase. We do this via our partnership with Stuller and the free addition of their online selling platform, which includes a cart system. It’s an easy addition to any website, it drives traffic to the store and it increases our online presence. — Jessica Rossomme, Mucklow’s Fine Jewelry, Peachtree City, GA

E-Futility

I have two stores; both have excellent web presence, nice SEOs, solid cost-per-click campaigns, display ad campaigns, and a nice social media following. Our websites show our inventory, which can be purchased online. We have included the e-commerce option in all of our advertising and marketing and even coded the site to offer sale discounts during events and holidays. All of this has been in place for six-plus months, and we are still yet to sell a single piece through the site. How about that! — Chad Elliott Coogan, Gems of La Costa, Carlsbad, CA

Hard to Keep Up

Trying to stay ahead of the many changes Google, Instagram and Facebook make after we have somewhat mastered their previous algorithms is a career in itself! Wish there were some Cliff Notes for us retailers! — Susan Eisen, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches, El Paso, TX

Signet Silence

Why are we not talking about Signet and sexual assault? Talk about taking the glamour out of jewelry — or is this entire industry tone-deaf? — Alan Lindsay, Henry’s, Cape May, NJ

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Letters from Readers on Failure, Trade Shows and More

One reader advises making up for lost sales online with higher repair prices.

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On “The Failure Issue”

Chris Burslem’s article [“Epic Fail”] gives you a definite perspective. We’re all trying to become better jewelers. Sometimes having to throw the dice really works. — Bruce Goodheart, Burnells Creative Gold, Wichita, KS

It’s sitting right next to me here on my nightstand. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Though I’ve had so many epic fails over the past seven years that the lead story title is making my PTSD flare up and giving me little panic attacks. I’m laughing as I write this, but I’m actually serious. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA

Making Up for Lost Profits

I feel our industry should wake up and realize that the Internet is here to stay, and it is just another progression in how the customer prefers to shop. We used to have corner grocery stores and then supermarkets — now we just place an order and drive up for pickup or have them delivered.

Jewelry stores that offer sizing and jewelry repair need to recognize that this is a service that cannot be performed online (but that day may soon come). This is an extra value to the customer who buys online, and if we don’t make profit on the sale of an item, we should consider making up the difference on this value we bring to the customer along with the trust we can instill. I have been using David Geller’s Blue Book for quite some time and have had very few objections to his prices, including when I charge more because folks mention they bought online. — Bill Brundage, Bill Brundage Jewelers, Louisville, KY

Now’s the Time

The greatest time to grow is when everyone else is stagnant because they are worried about the economy. — Bill Jones, Sissy’s Log Cabin, Little Rock, AR

High Cost of Attendance

It was interesting to see that at Baselworld, the big news was the high cost of either going or exhibiting. With the Vegas show coming up and the ridiculous costs involved in attending, will people label the costs as “just not worth it”? — Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Torrance, CA

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On Extreme Customer Service, Here Are Your Thoughts

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Customer service makes or breaks a business. Occasionally you have to think outside of the box or go to the extreme to make a difference, so it was nice to see this theme this month. — Wadeana Beveridge, Community Jewelry Inc., Brandon, FL

I love the extreme customer service story. I think it’s the perfect time of year to focus on a story like that — the busy holiday season has come and gone, and so has Valentine’s Day, so it’s important to remind employees to keep their enthusiasm up and focus on fabulous customer service even though business has slowed down a little. — Sydney Moss, Burkes Fine Jewelers, Kilmarnock, VA

The customer is not always right. I feel like it’s my job to tell them that. They think they understand about jewelry, but in reality, they don’t. So it’s my job to teach them, explain to them why certain things can’t be done. Such as adding a halo to a 20 year-old setting for 500 bucks. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview, NY

Survival of the Fittest

The jewelry trade is starting to remind me of the travel agent business years ago. Our customers are trying to go straight to the source and eliminate us. That’s the reason only the strong will survive. — Tommy Navarra, Navarra’s, Lake Charles, LA

Fading Luster

I’m worried about the direction of our industry. Lately I have seen more and more people just looking for a service rather than making a purchase. “We bought this online and need it sized.” Or “we bought this in St. Thomas and need it appraised and sized/fitted.” Loyalty is falling by the wayside, and the Internet is leading consumers to believe that they should be able to walk into a brick-and-mortar retailer store and pick up anything they want at a price they saw online. I hope this is just a phase or slump in our industry and that things will turn around soon. The luster to this beautiful business is wearing off and I need it to get reapplied very soon. — Marc Majors, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX

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