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Editor's Note

Our Editor-In-Chief Admits He Didn’t Know What WhatsApp Was … Do You?

Like other tech, it has the potential to make clients way happier with business owners.

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WHEN I SAW this issue’s “Do You or Don’t You” question, I was just as baffled as many of our readers.

The question, posed by our group managing editor, Chris Burslem, through our Brain Squad survey was this: “Do you use WhatsApp or another messaging service in your marketing or to otherwise communicate with customers?”

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I admit it: I wasn’t 100 percent sure what WhatsApp actually was.

So, I looked it up, and it’s a messaging app that sends text messages for free through an Internet connection. But its advantage is that you can create a business profile so users can see your address, website and contact info. It also allows businesses to save and reuse messages that you frequently send (e.g., “Your repair is ready!”), as well as sort your contacts by labels (e.g., “Frequent client,” “Engagement client only,” “Repair client only,” etc.).

In other words, I quickly learned that WhatsApp has some really cool features for small business owners.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of jewelry retailers are burned out on new tech. And yet, technology like WhatsApp, social media and review-management services like Podium can allow you to connect with clients in ways that they prefer and provide more efficient customer service.

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If you’d be willing to walk uphill both ways through snow and sleet to serve your customers, are you also willing to delve into the latest technology to do the same?

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Geofence your competitor’s store. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 26)
  • When working with a female engagement ring client, ask her to close her eyes and describe the perfect ring. (The Big Story, p. 39)
  • When dealing with a customer complaint, say “Tell me more” in order to put them at ease. (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • Ask job candidates, “Tell me how you prepared for this interview.” (Tip Sheet, p. 47)
  • Bundle slow-moving product with a fast seller in order to clear it out. (David Brown, p. 52)

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at trace@smartworkmedia.com.

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Editor's Note

Stuck in a Rut? Take the Advice of Nike, and ‘Just Do It’

Our editor-in-chief’s favorite strategy to move from knowing to doing is “ready-fire-aim.”

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ARE YOU stuck?

As a writer, I know the feeling. The colloquial term is “writer’s block,” but the truth is that one can’t find the right word, the right metaphor, the right way to begin, or maybe even the right idea.

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For business owners, it can be similar to get “stuck” when you know you need to start a particular initiative, but you don’t know exactly how, so you put it off and go about business as usual. The problem is that your business suffers if the initiative is never initiated.

That’s why we asked our resident research buff, group managing editor Chris Burslem, to put together this issue’s lead story on how to bridge the gap between knowing and doing. Chris is a voracious reader, and he has pulled tips from the latest books on how business owners can best move from theory to execution.

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My favorite is the concept of “ready-fire-aim.” When you’re not sure how to start, it’s best to just start somewhere, with the knowledge that you’ll revise your plan as you go. Digital strategy seems to be the area that is causing the most headaches for jewelry retailers at the moment.

Those who are willing to constantly fine-tune or even make radical changes are the ones who are finding the most success online.

When you know you need to make a change, take the advice of Nike: just do it!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Preplan your front window displays and themed in-store displays for each selling season. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 26)
2. For idea generation, use brainwriting, wherein participants rotate between eight-minute individual writing sessions and three-minute group sessions to read over each other’s ideas. (The Big Story, p. 34)
3. Break your staff into groups and rotate store responsibilities each week. (Ask INSTORE, p. 58)
4. When planning your marketing for the year, come up with promotions to boost sales in slow months. (Andrea Hill, p. 52)
5. Post pics to social media of any pet dogs that visit your store. (Do You or Don’t You, p. 61)

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Editor's Note

For Jewelry Retailers, Being With Family Often Means Being At Work

But most say they enjoy spending so much time with relatives.

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FOR MOST PEOPLE, the holiday season means spending time with family. For most independent jewelry retailers, the holiday season means spending a whole whole lot of time with family.

That’s because being in the jewelry business frequently means being in the family business, with retail stores passed on from generation to generation. Brothers, sisters, cousins, in-laws, parents and grandparents all work together on a daily basis.

The average layperson might think that these jewelry families would be at each other’s throats since they’re around each other so often. But we’ve found that most in jewelry retail say they not only work well with family members, they enjoy it.

That’s why we thought it would be fun (and instructive) to do a photo essay on jewelry retailers who work with family members. Now, the story is not exhaustive by any means! After all, since you’re reading this, there’s a decent chance that you work with at least one relative yourself. But in reading about other families who work together in a small business like your own, we hope you’ll see yourself in them — and hopefully pick up some tips to improve relations in your own store along the way.

Being part of a family isn’t always easy. But being part of a family that also works together can be especially stressful — although many of you make it look easy. We hope your family has a fabulous holiday season, and we’ll see you on the other side of the new year!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

 

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Launch three new Pinterest pages: Last-minute gift ideas for her; Last-minute gift ideas for him; Gift ideas under $100. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 28)
2. Post photos of two best-selling jewelry pieces on Facebook each day, one when you open and the other around 3 p.m. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 28)
3. Limit the number of pieces that can be presented to a customer to between one and three pieces of jewelry or watches at a time, and post signage of this policy. (Ask INSTORE, p. 52)
4. Add one or two new descriptive words to your sales presentation, and then add more as you become comfortable with them. (Ask INSTORE, p. 54)
5. Always include some of the relevant search keywords you determined for your business in your social media posts. (Maccaroni, p. 53)

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Editor's Note

Why The Big Survey Should Be Invaluable to Business Planning

When 800 store owners talk, you should listen.

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WE CALL OUR ANNUAL survey “The Big Survey” because we ask so many questions of respondents, but it’s also big because so many of you participate — more than 800 of you, in fact. And that makes the results incredibly valuable.
They’re so valuable that when I’m asked to speak to industry organizations, I often use the results to illustrate any number of points. For instance, I recently spoke to a group about how millennials are disrupting jewelry retail. I went back to last year’s Big Survey to reference this fascinating result: 51 percent of stores who were thriving said that the rise of millennials has been good for business, while only 18 percent of stores who were struggling said the same.
It’s questions (and results) like these that make The Big Survey so indispensable when charting the future of your business. In this case, it’s clear that if your store doesn’t cater to the needs of millennials, you’re more likely to struggle.

This year’s survey includes results like:

  • the best-performing jewelry and watch brands
  • salary comparisons for owners and staff
  • the “dark arts” of streetwise jewelers
  • the most impactful tech for jewelry store owners

And much, much more! I hope you’ll read this year’s survey not only for the fun bits and responses that make you go “huh,” but also for the takeaways that could set you up for future success.

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Remove store fixtures that are too tall to allow shoppers to look across and take in your store. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 26)
2. Make sure your staff is fully aware of what holiday promotions will run when. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 26)
3. Always ask prospective employees, “What was the best day at work you’ve had in the past three months?” (Ask INSTORE, p. 70)
4. After any holiday sale, ask the client, “How many others are on your list?” (Shane Decker, p. 70)
5. Attend local small-business meetings to search out possible cross-marketing opportunities. (Cool Stores, p. 76)

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