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Eileen McClelland

Vegas Shopping Strategy: Turn Your Clients Into Collectors



While shopping the Vegas show next week, consider this:

Are you underselling your clients?

Adam Graham, CEO of Erica Courtney, says some Courtney collectors who started out buying silver pieces have moved up to colored gem jewelry in a much more elite segment of the market – the $80,000 range.

Graham, who was a speaker at the American Gem Society Conclave in New Orleans last month, says the key is to create loyalty, whether it be to your store or to a brand or a designer that you represent, and then educate your client about the value of what they can purchase. Sell them heirlooms!

But first you need to stock the right merchandise.

“Your fancy clients should not be wearing pedestrian jewelry,” Graham says. “Put them in the good stuff. You are their stylists, so let’s move them up, put them in another class, in something more interesting, something they will want to talk about.


So, when shopping the shows, do consider how you can increase your average price point sale. Look for margin-friendly collections, to begin with, such as colored gem jewelry.

Also, don’t hesitate to explore “what-ifs,” when you are interested in working with a new designer or manufacturer. They might be more flexible than you imagine in an effort to get a first foot through your retail door. And Erica Courtney isn’t alone in that regard, Graham says.

“Probably every one of you has a secret admiration for some line that you would love to have in your store. Have open discussions with suppliers and see what you can do – short of spending $100,000 up front.”

Ask for a couple of pieces to test the waters.

“If they don’t give you that opportunity, there are other companies that will,” he says.

Stretch Your Goals

This year, Graham suggests, try to do at least one of these things:

  • Add a stretch line that you personally love to your store.
  • Bring in stretch pieces for one special client just to see what happens.
  • Encourage your sales associates to make a presentation to their best client that’s out of their normal comfort zone.
  • Turn a client into a collector.
  • Give your clients something to aspire to, not just what they can easily buy. Show them, tempt them!

12 Ways to ‘Move Up’ Your Clients

“I’ve had people who had bought nothing but QVC pieces in the past who will buy $10,000 pieces because they like Erica Courtney,” Graham says. “Create loyalty. Create collectors. Increase a client’s confidence in buying, whether it’s a brand, a gemstone or a particular color. A lot of people don’t buy because they don’t get the value, they don’t understand it.”

  1. Increase sales associates confidence in selling. If they don’t understand something, they may not want to present that.
  2. Go big. Start at the top and then you can always work your way down. Sell the best, then the rest.
  3. Establish yourself as the expert. If you’re moving somebody up in a line, and educating them, they feel they are getting value. The better-educated client, who learned from you, is more apt to buy from you.
  4. Always strive to increase your average price point. If the average jewelry store does 5,000 transactions per year, and the average sale is $100, the store will do $500,000 per year of sales. But if you double the average sale, you’ll be looking at a $1 million business. “Even a little bit makes a big difference,” Graham says.
  5. Develop your brides into self-purchasers of fashion and trend jewelry. “Become their fashion adviser and first stop for accessories, their personal shopper, even. Educate yourself on what colors go together. If someone wants to purchase jewelry for a special occasion or to wear with a certain outfit, get the jewelry designer involved directly in their choice. It adds another level of credibility for you and makes the client feel important.
  6. After the engagement ring purchase, send a thank you note! Then continue to make your new clients feel special and welcome by sending them invitations to special events and offering to clean their rings.
  7. Make sure you capture the wedding band sale by requiring a small deposit (say, $50) to hold the price of the band.
  8. Create raving fans with your service and the in-store experience you create. They will spread the news about you.
  9. Clients will spend more if they can pay for it over time. Allow them to go above and beyond on a special piece by spreading out the cost. Clients will sometimes agree to spend over their monthly budget by paying over three or four months (so their husbands don’t notice!)
  10. Encourage clients to buy jewelry they will be proud to pass down to their kids, that will be considered heirlooms, rather than having stuff that will be melted down.
  11. Consider color. “Where there is mystery, there is margin.” It’s harder to price-shop. Prices of some gemstones have climbed exponentially in the past decade. Host a gemstone roundtable in your store.
  12. Don’t judge. “We have all had those people who surprise us by buying outside their perceived means. Don’t pretend you know how much money they have. Move them up!”



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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