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What This Jeweler Learned From a Cruise Line Changed Her Store Forever

Here’s how it can change yours too.

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WE TOOK A cruise for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday. The enchantment started the minute we walked aboard the ship. People called out our name and joyfully announced our arrival. Next, customer services had our vacation packet waiting and warmly discussed all of our shore excursions, on-board activities and general information.

You might ask why I am going on about an itinerary, but it wasn’t just the cruise — it was the culture of the engaged employees who delivered a sense of welcome, happy-to-oblige helpfulness and genuine courtesy on all levels that was so alluring.

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How would your store or your employees compare to that kind of service? When I came back, I immediately had the discussion of “Customer Magic” with my team. A cruise salesperson has a very limited window of opportunity to engage a client, exchange pertinent information, and then together create a satisfying outcome. Most of what they will achieve depends on their presentation, execution of interests and the level of engagement that ensures they have transformed this individual into a loyal customer who will return for another round — not unlike a new customer coming into your store on a virgin excursion, exploring to see if you have what they need.

Did you greet them happily or meet them at the door? Did you engage with a smile and genuinely helpful attitude? Did you give a sincere compliment as an icebreaker? Did you extract the information required to make their experience feel welcoming and helpful by asking open-ended questions? Could you satisfy their expectations or meet their needs efficiently? What did you do that would gain their trust? Ultimately, in this limited engagement, did you earn their loyalty?

Every customer, every time, needs the red carpet treatment if you intend to catapult your store to the forefront from the plethora of retail choices. With a limited window of opportunity, presented from five to 50 times a day depending on your traffic flow, are you making the most of each customer interaction? How are you training your sales team to be guardians of guaranteed customer loyalty and to do what needs to be done to make this a great experience? On every level, from owner to salesperson to jeweler to gift wrap, is this a cohesive team helping to insure that each customer is fulfilled, and thus will return in the future?

Wish lists, rapid repairs, quality merchandise, free inspections and creature comfort amenities create an exchange that resonates with your clientele, and then they share with their peers. How would you rate your store on the “Customer Magic” scale?

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Denise Oros owns Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL.

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You’re Killing Your Own Jewelry Sales By Talking About the Price

Romance the item and the reason they came in, and you’ll close more sales.

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DURING THE HOLIDAYS, we get into bad sales habits because the sales are so easy and customers are buying price-point items. We sell faster, we sell price and sometimes we don’t even really sell the item. Now that we’re into the new year, it’s time to get back into good selling habits.

The diamond season is about to start. Typically, it runs from April 16 through the end of September (although we sell diamonds all year, which we should). What can keep you from selling as many diamonds as you could? The price.

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Too many salespeople are afraid of the price, no matter which item they’re selling, which causes problems with closing the sale, among other things. When you try to justify the price or the client feels you are apologizing for the price, they start to believe that you think they can’t afford the item. They will feel pre-judged and leave.

Clients are coming in for you to spend their money for them; they’re paying you as a professional to do this. You do not need to decide how much they can spend. Let the client decide that (unless you’re wowing them with a $10,000 diamond while they’re waiting for a battery).

Instead of price, concentrate on selling with romance and knowledge. These two things build confidence in your product. Quality, technical information, craftsmanship, design, difficulty, brand, rarity, size, color, clarity, cut, and other factors all contribute to the value of the product.

That said, you have to understand when technical selling is appropriate, and how much to do. Some clients are not interested in this at all, so do not volunteer technical information if it’s not needed. You don’t need to impress the client, but if they have concerns or questions about technical aspects of the product, it’s up to you to answer any and all questions with authority.

Remember: The more money the item costs, the easier it is to close because the customer can afford it. The less the item costs, usually the harder it is to close. Money is just a tool the client uses to obtain what he or she wants. Always start high and go down — you limit yourself when you start low and try to work up.

Begin the sale with questions that encourage the client to tell you their story and why they’re in your store. And make it about the importance of the item. When you make it about them and the item and you learn to romance the reason they’re here, the price will become insignificant and the client will upsell themselves.

Don’t talk about yourself, and certainly don’t make the sale about price. They’ll forget how much they spend, but they’ll always remember the event and the item.

Millennials are changing the size of the starter set diamond — diamonds from 1.5-carats to 2 carats are selling like crazy all over the country. All of you should be selling big diamonds. Make 2020 the year of big diamond sales and high closing ratios in your store.

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Three Legs of The Online Marketing Stool

If you understand how your marketing is working for you, it’s much easier to make good decisions.

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THE REAL DANGER in jewelry marketing is not understanding the strategy. If you understand how your marketing is working for you, it’s much easier to make good decisions. To strengthen your understanding of the foundation of an online marketing strategy, let’s dive into how it works. Here are the parts of your online marketing stool.

A sturdy online strategy for jewelers has three legs. Search, outreach, and retargeting. Finding new customers means having a firm position in all three. Between these three legs, a spectrum of potential customers is covered. They balance and support each other. And as different platforms come and go, these three methods will likely still be in use, just in new places and in new ways.

Search: Be There When They’re Looking

Search covers the opportunities that you have to show up when a potential customer is looking to buy jewelry. This is primarily covered by search ads and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Paying for a search ad is one of the quickest and most expensive ways to get in front of someone who’s looking for jewelry. Updating your website for SEO is one of the slowest yet most enduring ways to get in front of those very same people. Both of these are important and they work together. In fact, we consider them to be the yin and yang of digital marketing.

But there are lots of people smack in the middle of your target market who don’t happen to be searching online right now. How do you get their attention?

Outreach: Introduce Yourself to the Right People

Outreach ads are specific to people who are not looking for you. These are more like Billboards and TV spots, except they’re online so we can do a lot more with them. Outreach is covered by things like Facebook ads, banner ads, and even YouTube ads. We can target by what we know about your customers and people who buy jewelry. Age, location, interests, and more can all factor in to these types of ads, creating the perfect audience of potential customers.

The downside is that they’re not looking for you. For that reason, they’re more of a brand awareness tool. If a good potential customer sees you enough, they’re more likely to think of you when the time comes. They may be more likely to click on your search ad when your name comes up, or even search directly for your brand name instead of the competition.

Search ads and outreach ads can really start to generate more visitors to your website. But in an online world, it’s easy for people who have warmed up to you to eventually forget about you and go cold. How do you prevent that from happening?

Retargeting: Stay Top of Mind to Those Who Matter Most

Retargeting keeps the relationship from going cold. If a person clicks on your ad and visits your website, they’ve shone more interest than many other people. So why treat them the same? With retargeting, we can keep track of them and continue the relationship in a more meaningful way.

We generally cover retargeting with website banner ads and Facebook ads. But now we have the ability to show a different message, taking into account the fact that the person has been here before. This could be a special offer, a different call to action, or simply new wording in the ad. We can even spend more money per person since there’s reason to believe that they’re closer to buying.

Search, Outreach, & Retargeting: The Solid Stool
Put together, we can see how these three cover a lot. A potential customer is either looking or not and has either visited your site or haven’t. Despite the scenario, you’ve got it covered. And the best part about it is that each person has the chance to interact with you through multiple of these scenarios until they’re convinced that they should buy from you. If you have a sturdy stool, you’ll be primed to make that happen on a regular basis.

Are you looking for an agency that knows how to bring in new customers? Contact suits@fruchtman.com.

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What’s Next in Retail? Here Are Lessons Learned at This Year’s National Retail Federation’s “Big Show’

Read some insights of particular note to those of us in the jewelry business.

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CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND customer relationship building were two intertwined themes of the NRF 2020: Retail’s Big Show & Expo in New York. While the “Big Show” attracts all kinds of store types, I attended with a jewelry retailer’s perspective.

The concepts of customer experience and customer relationship are closely tied because while the experience differentiates your store, opens and maintains relationships, it’s the actual relationship that translates into repeat business, referrals and fosters loyalty.

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So, what do customer experience and customer relationships mean for jewelry retailers in a practical sense? Here are some insights of particular note to those of us in the jewelry business.

Tell a story.

Think of your store as a stage for telling a story instead of a place for laying out rows of product.

Consider some real standouts in the industry. The story that Love Adorned tells in its romantic, hip lifestyle environments is dramatically different than the biker chic interiors of Nightrider stores and the bright open layout at Tallisman Collection Fine Jewelers. Each of these retailers offers a unique experience to shoppers.

Story ideas can come from anywhere. Think about your local community in terms of culture, geography, history, and events. Seasonal or monthly themes are an easy way to keep the experience you deliver new, changing and relevant. Think, too about the product. You might select different gems to feature, for example consider an emerald event that would include color and fashion, show coordinating styles, stone lore, details about sourcing, origin, setting ideas, and more.

Keep an eye out for what is going on with other kinds of retailers outside the jewelry industry. A new trend dubbed “experience-first retail” is exemplified by CAMP, The Family Experience Store, which has transformed the toy store into a daylong interactive journey of discovery, learning and fun activities.

Ben Kaufman, founder and CEO of CAMP was interviewed during a daylong discussion series titled “The Human Factor” which explored how retail, technology and consumers intersect now and how this intersection may evolve in the future. His main points were:

  • Make sure what you do brings value to your customers
  • Invest in hiring and training in performance management
  • Be around people and let them be themselves, learn from shoppers and staff
  • Think of visual merchandising as immersive, seamlessly integrated into the retail space
  • Retailers must be more courageous, adapt more risky retail models

Another non-jewelry retailer that is innovating with an “experience-first” approach is Rituals. This store has heightened the idea of skincare retailing by offering an entire well-being experience. Skincare products are supported in an in-store experience that includes makeup and fragrance, home ambience, and a carefully edited clothing and accessories collection. “We are not here to sell you beauty, we are here to make you feel good,” says Marjolein Westerbeek, President of Rituals USA.

Beyond the store, Rituals connects with customers via downloadable relaxation, yoga, and meditation apps and makes shopping on and off-line, simple and easy. It all works together to tell the story of pampering, respectfully infused into the shopping experience itself. Marjolein attributes Rituals’ success to investing in the store entrance, customer and staff relationships and customer relationship management (CRM). She goes on to say: “Our CRM allows us to know our customer better, know what they are buying, get our offerings right and give the customer a sense of being seen.” Upon entering the store each customer is offered a cup of tea to help them step away from the hustle and bustle of the day.

The important take-away from all of this is that the store becomes your stage. The product becomes the actors. Your staff are directors and ushers, helping the customer engage in experiencing the story on their way to buying and forming a lasting relationship, anytime, anywhere, whether in or out of the store.

Offer consistency across channels.

Your customer expects your brand to be consistent wherever they encounter it. Your organization might have separate people and agencies managing the store, advertising, the web site and social media, but to the customer, they are all different ways to experience the same brand.

Make sure everything ties together in terms of visual design from graphics to typography, messaging, tone and manner. The story needs to thread through every place where your customer interacts with your brand. If you’ve done a great job telling a story in your store, but your website is just a bland catalog of product, you’ve missed the opportunity.

Be multi-touch and multi-channel.

You cannot create a relationship with a one-and-done approach to connecting to customers. You have to bring your story to them multiple times through multiple channels. Getting a message across or inviting customers to a special event, might mean sending a physical postcard supported by an email as you connect through paid social media. You may interact with customers in person, at the same time using your online channel to help them shop the store. At each step of the way, collect data to help you come to better know and engage with the customer over time. To do that, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) system that connects store personnel to the database and that links to your website, email, social and other channels.

A word about technology.

Retail is going high-tech and many retail leaders are bombarded by technology of all kinds all the time. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and worry that you might be falling behind or missing something. Consider technology carefully. It is just a tool, not a strategy in itself. Spend your time on the basics of good stories, told consistently across channels, doing whatever you can to stay in touch. Technology can play a great role, but if technology doesn’t fit into your strategies in these areas, it can become just a costly distraction.

Many speakers across all days of the show discussed customer experience and customer relationship from four technology perspectives:

1) Business strategy
• Customer acquisition and retention
• Data capture
• Customer relationship and engagement
• Delivery and Fulfillment
• Service platforms

2) Customer point of view
• Frictionless
• Easy
• Convenient
• Personalized
• Highly Experiential

3) Operations
• Data empowered location, assortment, pricing, promotion, inventory and workforce management
• Omnichannel

4) Financial planning and reporting
• new KPI’s (key performance indicators)
• New revenue models (services, vendors recurrent)
• New financial models

The NRF providers that are most interesting for jewelry retailers were:

Obsess- obsessar.com
Founder CEO, Neha Singh, Neha@ObsessAR.com
Using augmented reality (AR), this technology helps you differentiate from the monotonous grid of most e-commerce sites. Visitors to your website can explore as if they were walking through a 360° virtual tour of your store—even if you don’t have a physical store.

• Obsess captures your retail store or pop-up and transforms it into an interactive 360 virtual store that visitors can actually shop.
• Customers can shop your store from anywhere in the world at any time
• Visitors don’t need special equipment like headsets and don’t need to download an app; they arrive at your site and embark on an AR shopping experience.

Tangiblee.com – tangiblee.com
Contact Matt Pettigrew, Director of Sales & Customer Success. Matt@tangiblee.com
This software helps you create interactive, personalized product stories and experiences on every item in your catalog. It helps shoppers explore your products across platforms, get detailed specifications and descriptions, and make comparisons. Clients include Takori, Hellsberg diamonds

DOR, getdor.com
DOR is a battery-operated people counter that is easy to use. Place the peel-and-stick battery-operated sensors at your entrance and anywhere you want to capture traffic data. The systems are easy to set up and use technology that gives you accurate counts without having to calibrate them.

Mishipay Mishipay.com
Contact Tanvi Bhardwaj, Cofounder & CTO
This solution makes it easy to take smartphone payments, appealing to young, tech-savvy shoppers and speeding the purchase process.

HEXA – hexa3d.io
Contact Nicole Ovrutsky, 3D Strategist
Hexa converts your 2D sketches into 3D models so that you can easily share product designs with your distributors and customers. This lowers the cost and expedites both the design process and pre-commerce sampling process.

Real world applications.

Any retailer can execute on strategies to create experiences that drive customer relationships.

A large retailer with plenty of space and a sizeable budget can create a storewide theme, add activities and ancillary products, hold events, and incorporate the latest technology and data mining to track and understand their customer preferences and assess their merchandise assortment validity.

A small retailer in traditional space with a small budget can create amazing windows, enhance vitrines, and add interest around the store. Stay connected to your customers through social media conversations and engaging visuals. Expand your customer base and your reach and stay connected with your past and current customers. Hosting small events or, working with retailers nearby, can create joint occasions to bring together salons, wellness studios, fashion, beauty, accessories, and more. What you are able to do in store depends on your ingenuity, access to talent, expertise, your physical space, and your budget. If you haven’t got the resources, however, even doing a little bit can yield big dividends. Customer engagement and relationship building isn’t a one-time project, but a way of doing business long term. You can start small and build big!

Every relationship and experience, whether business or personal, begins with a tiny seed of an idea or an impulse—plus a dose of courage.

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