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Tip Sheet

Special Tips: April 2010: Sharpen Your Edge

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THIS MONTH, WE focus on tips for making your store stand out from the crowd.

Sharpen Your Edge

David Brown, president of the Edge Retail Academy, tells the story of a small-town jeweler he once worked with who believed that bridal sales held the secret to his success. But no matter how hard he marketed his bridal lines, the young people in the area never showed much interest; they preferred to travel to the big city miles away to shop for their rings. A re-examination of his sales convinced the jeweler that his best customers were actually the wealthy, older matrons of his local market. And by shifting his focus and making inventory adjustments to fit their tastes he finally found the business success he’d been looking for. Long story, but short lesson: Small stores can’t compete with the big guys in terms of selection and especially price. You need a different “value proposition.”

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Seize the High Ground

Between them, Internet merchants like Blue Nile and big-box retailers like Wal-Mart don’t leave much room for independent jewelers to compete on price. Your only option is to stick to the high ground of value and service. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Don’t carry the same merchandise as the bigger stores in your area.
  • Ensure your buying matches your ambitions. Want 50 percent of sales to come from platinum merchandise? Then your inventory should match it. Eliminate non-core goods.
  • Offer services that the big guys can’t, like repair work, superior packaging and custom design.
  • Always ask your vendors, especially the smaller local artists, about “market exclusivity” agreements.
  • Search for areas of “organic growth” — they are the areas with the best potential and where you have your sharpest competitive edge.
  • Constantly seek feedback.
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It Figures

Revenues from the top four specialty jewelers account for about 11 percent of total industry sales. In contrast, the top four merchants in other big retail categories — consumer electronics, home centers, office supplies — generate more than 50 percent of industry revenues. Clearly, jewelry remains one of the few unconsolidated retail categories in the U.S. What’s it mean? There is room for you to carve out a niche. — Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Ken Gassman

Try this: The Toughest Question of All

During a store meeting, ask your staff to name everything that makes your store unique and different in the marketplace — apart from “quality, service, and being nice people.” Or, if they really want to mention these, they must clearly define what they mean, and it must be something that is specific and measurable.

The conversation should include very special treatments provided to customers, as well as unique products and services.

Once you have this information, how do you use it? It must become part of your presentation to every customer who comes into the store. It becomes part of your advertising. It becomes part of every promotion.

If the marketplace sees you as just another jeweler, why should shoppers come to your store? — Source: Dave Richardson

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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