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Jewelers Say Some Business Tweaks May Be Permanent

Zoom, Venmo, Podium, e-commerce, text and chat are here to stay.

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MOST JEWELERS SURVEYED last week who had changed aspects of business practices and technology during the COVID-19 shutdown say they plan to retain some of those tweaks. That’s particularly true when it comes to e-commerce, updating their websites, virtual staff meetings and client appointments, as well as how they stay in touch with clients (i.e. more texting and emailing). Several also said they would change their business model to “appointment only.”

Zoom was frequently cited as a good way to stay in touch with customers and staff and hold virtual sales presentations.

Others said they are simplifying how customers can pay, particularly through Venmo or Podium apps.

And, of course, several mentioned they will continue to ramp up cleaning and disinfecting efforts.

Mark Rozanski, who had e-commerce in place before COVID-19, doesn’t anticipate making any big changes. “Carry on as usual,” he says. “This was just a hiccup that put a large dent in revenue.”

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Joe Thacker of Joe Thacker Jewelry in Lubbock, TX, believes that change is a given, but that the details are tough to envision. “I suspect that we will do our best to adapt to whatever the new normal will be,” he says. “However, I don’t think it will be the old normal. Moving forward from here is an unknown and no one I know has a clue what will or will not work.”

Judging from a couple of other responses, including that of Ed Menk of E.L. Menk Jewelers in Brainerd, MN, we could also surmise we may see a more casual workplace going forward. “We couldn’t afford a remodel, so I decided to change the image,” he says. “No haircuts, not shaving, wearing grubby clothes, but taking a bath once a week. Just kidding, but I AM letting my hair grow and not shaving. Going to look like Grizzly Adams. (I could only wish I looked that good.)

Other responses:

  • “Zoom communication with staff if we reduce hours or days worked to keep everyone in the loop. More structured daily mini-meetings.” — John Carom, Abby’s Gold & Gems, Uniontown, PA
  • “We are updating our website in hopes that it will help with sales.” — Robert Kaylor, R. Grey Jewelry Gallery, Boise, ID
  • “I was always against texting customers in favor of phone calls. But customers seem to interact with text at their pace, and we have gotten a great response.” — Christopher Sarich, Noah Gabriel & Co. Jewelers, Wexford, PA
  • “Buy it now” buttons in our emails. — Josh Rider, Dylan Rings, Montgomery, AL
  • “We’ve added a shopping cart to our site. Worked on simple purchase items to bring in daily dollars. Jewelry will not be the first purchase once COVID is over, but repairs will be huge! So we are heavily pushing our state-of-the art jewelry studio for quality repair.” — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL
  • “By appointment only. So much better for my mental health.” — Catherine Dining, CG Designs, Lafayette, CA
  • “My clients love that I set up a Venmo account for the store.” — Scott Devoy, Green’s Jewelry, El Centro, CA
  • “Home deliveries.” — Georgie Gleim, Gleim the Jeweler, Palo Alto, CA
  • “Virtual appointments.” — Tonia Ulsh, Mountz Jewelers, Camp Hill, PA“We installed a web portal on our page that allows us to have face-to-face design interactions with online clients. I think we will promote this going forward.” — Ralf Vandenberg, Vandenberg’s Jewellers, Alberta, Canada
  • “Podium payments were added in order for customers to make layaway payments without coming into the store. Will definitely keep it going. Also activated e-comm on Shopify website. Plan to work that harder.” — Steve Floyd, Floyd & Green, Aiken, SC.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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