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What You Can Learn About Jewelry Retailing From Airbnb

Rather than creating an average experience, consider what an 11-star experience would look like.




AIRBNB IS A hotel alternative tech startup that has been on a meteoric rise over the past decade. That’s great for them, but what does it have to do with your jewelry store? A lot, actually.

Let’s take a close look at Airbnb’s creative process, break it down, and translate it so it can work for you in your store.

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Focus on delighting your customers. Think in terms of providing an experience rather than just selling jewelry. You might consider Airbnb as simply a hotel alternative, but they are successful because they’re so focused on the experience they provide. Here’s what Airbnb advises: “Hand serve your customers. Win them over, one by one. And don’t stop until you know exactly what they want.”

To create the experience their customers wanted, they asked them! They got to know their users. They asked them with openness and genuine curiosity what they wanted so that they could hit the mark in what they offered. People will share their opinions with you — all you have to do is ask, and then act on what you hear.

Shoot for 11 stars on a 5-star scale … then rein it in. Airbnb’s design process encourages you to let your imagination run wild. Don’t ask, “How do I make this better?” Instead, ask how you might completely blow someone away. Dream really big, and then think about what’s feasible within that dream. It’s much easier to be creative if you take away all the limits.

In Airbnb’s world, a 5-star check-in experience would be, “You knock on the door, they open the door, they let you in.” Getting creative, an 11-star experience would be “I’d get off the plane and it would be like The Beatles arriving: There’d be 5,000 high school kids cheering my name with cars welcoming me to the country. I’d get to the front yard of your house and there’d be a press conference for me.” With 11 stars, Elon Musk would meet you at the airport and say, “You’re going to space.”


Translating that to jewelry retailing, a five-star check in would be simply greeting the customer. An 11-star check in would be showing up at your customer’s house in a limo or helicopter, champagne and treats for the ride over, the store is closed to the public, and every piece they’re shown fits their taste and budget exactly.

You’re probably not going to pick your customers up in a helicopter, but experiment and aim for the sweet spot within your grand ideas. Pull some pieces aside if you know a customer is coming in. Auction off a special after-hours shopping party with drinks and light bites for the winner and their friends. Create a unique and memorable experience, and your customers will connect with you and want to come back.

Iterate like a great tech company. Experiment and see what kind of response you’re getting. Some ideas will work, and others won’t, and that’s totally okay — you need to find the right combination for your business. Set goals, then pay close attention to what’s working and what’s not. You won’t know if you’re succeeding unless you measure the results of your efforts. Adjust what you’re doing and see how things change. This all boils down to a process of continuous improvement and iteration.

Wendy Paler is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for BriteCo. With a rapidly growing network of jeweler partners across the U.S., BriteCo offers free, state-of-the-art appraisal software to jewelers and instant, A-rated point of sale insurance to their customers. Paler has served in a variety of client-facing and operational leadership roles in both higher education and tech.

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