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Editor's Note

When Wholesalers Sell Direct Online, They Better Be Ready for the Consequences

With wholesalers selling direct to consumers online, what does the future hold for brick-and-mortar retailers?

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Ever had that feeling that everyone was muttering about you behind your back? If so, you might be a jewelry manufacturer selling to consumers online.

Over the past few years, this has been the No. 1 topic we’ve heard about from our readers. Just a quick look at our last couple of Brain Squad surveys shows the following comments: 

  • “Sad that so many wholesalers are selling direct to our customers, brands included.”
  • “More and more, we are seeing the major brands opening their own stores and selling directly to the public or through third parties that are discounting their merchandise.”
  • “I am concerned about the future of the retail jeweler. I see less walk-in traffic each year and I feel like it is due to the Internet.”

The Internet has made it much easier for wholesalers to sell direct. The motivation is not hard to understand. A wholesaler can double profits by bypassing retailers to skip straight to the consumer. But at what long-term cost?

When a wholesaler makes an end run around the retailer, the retailer no longer trusts that wholesaler. So that wholesaler better make darn sure he is ready to take on all the functions of a retailer (merchandising, marketing, and selling to the public). And compared to trying to garner attention in a crowded online marketplace, a brick-and-mortar retailer’s built-in local audience, recognition and community presence start to look really attractive.

It’s a conundrum that’s shaking the very structure of the jewelry industry. To read more from both wholesalers and retailers — including some suggestions and possible solutions — see our lead story on page 43.

 

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FIVE SMART TIPS YOU’LL FIND INSIDE THIS EDITION

1. If a client consistently has problems with rings turning her fingers black, suggest she have the inside of the bands coated with rhodium. (Ask Instore, p. 69)

2. Tell clients, “Please save me from buying this for myself” to show your enthusiasm for new products. (Line Time, p. 65)

3. Instead of a one-day trunk show, have designers come in for a week and call it a “residency.” (Brainstorm, p. 64)

4. Tell your own engagement story on your About Us page with humor and sentiment. (That’s Cool, p. 68)

5. Go through your jewelers’ bench and findings cabinet and melt or return findings that are more than one year old. (Manager’s To-Do List, p. 28)

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This article originally appeared in the April 2018 edition of INSTORE.

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

For Great Marketing Advice, Don’t Ask Our Editor-In-Chief

The good news is, your fellow retailers are doing awesome things.

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FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, before I started working at INSTORE, I worked in marketing. I wrote radio, TV and print ads, and after six years of doing it, I thought I was pretty good at it. I also did media buying and marketing strategy consultations. Heck, I even wrote scripts for on-hold phone messages.

Today, much of what I learned is obsolete.

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Sure, the bedrock principles of marketing are still the same (find a way to pique the consumer’s interest), but the methods of delivery are radically different. As a result, the messaging has changed as well. A radio or TV script just doesn’t work when you post it on Facebook.

Moreover, the techniques that worked back then don’t resonate as strongly with today’s consumer. That’s because people love to be surprised. And, they love an experience.

The good news is, many of you are innovating in ways that appeal to your customer base. We’ve collected 12 such ideas in this issue’s lead story (plus a few more online at instoremag.com) that will inspire you to create your own enticing approach. From unusual promotions, to modern takes on old concepts (like the catalog), to high-tech targeting, these strategies are the type of above-and-beyond concepts that cause people to stop and take notice.

So I hope you’ll find an idea in this issue that works for you. Just don’t ask me for advice: Those “guaranteed to work” Yellow Pages templates aren’t so guaranteed anymore!

Trace Shelton

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

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Schedule your trunk shows in November to capture clients earlier in the holiday buying process. (The Big Story, p. 40)
2. Split your displays into “jewelry islands” within the showcase to allow for multiple clients to view items at once. (10 Jewelry Display Mistakes, p. 52)
3. Use your clients as models for your direct mailers. (Brainstorm, p. 62)
4. Buy low-priced items in limited quantities to use in “feeding frenzy” marketing promos. (Jim Ackerman, p. 64)
5. Partner with local bridal-related businesses on a “Bridal Box” giveaway to engagement-ring customers. (Cool Stores, p. 80)

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Editor's Note

Today’s Bridal Client Requires A New Approach

Selection isn’t enough anymore.

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IF YOU’RE SELLING bridal the same old way you’ve done it in past decades, you may find fewer people saying “I do” to your engagement rings.

Twenty years ago, it was enough just to have a strong selection of solitaires. Heck, it’s been less than five years since custom design began to dominate the bridal conversation and lab-grown diamonds started making waves.

Those products are responses to three traits common to nearly every engagement ring shopper these days: they want uniqueness, an environmentally and ethically friendly product, and quality at a reasonable price. If you’re not addressing shoppers’ desire for a ring distinct from their peers — and one that satisfies their social conscience — you need to revisit your business model, quickly.

Today’s engagement ring shopper also responds well to an unexpected positive experience. Many jewelers now provide one or more “extras” to bridal shoppers, which we’ve collated in our lead story, “41 Surefire Ways to Make Your Bridal Business Stand Out.” These could be anything from a proposal package to a photo shoot, booth seating or concierge services.

And that’s just the beginning. Throughout this issue, you can read about how to make the most of the lab-grown diamond phenomenon, how to streamline your bridal inventory, how to get clients to return for jewelry service, and much more. So if you’re ready to turn something old into something new, turn the page and get cracking!

Trace Shelton

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

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

1. Write a blog post that describes the best places around your community to propose. (Tip Sheet, p. 56)
2. Create infographics about jewelry and diamonds to share on social media. (Manager’s To-Do, p. 32)
3. Give a silicon band free to engagement ring shoppers while talking about jewelry care. (Do You Or Don’t You, p. 73)
4. Treat engagement ring clients to a ride to their wedding in a vintage vehicle. (The Big Story, p. 40)
5. Track which live samples result in special orders. (Sherry Smith, p. 61)

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Editor's Note

What Makes a Store Cool?

It’s the special sauce of individuality.

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WHEN I SAW a photo of an inverted canoe chandelier hanging from Erik Runyan Jewelers’ 18-foot ceilings in Vancouver, WA, I wanted to meet the people who put it there.

I got my chance in June when our panel of expert judges chose ERJ as the No. 1 America’s Coolest Store in the Big Cool division.

What draws me to ERJ is not just the canoe. The store is the perfect expression of everything Erik and Leslie Runyan love. They raised their three daughters on boats and dirt bikes. Their spirit of adventure, the sea and wide-open spaces are reflected in the store design and ambience.

Gem dealers Simon and Laurie Watt have curated EAT Gallery, the No. 1 store in the Small Cool division, to display beloved treasures, from local art to hand-carved gem sculptures. They’ve managed to connect Maysville, the Kentucky town they’ve chosen to call home, to the wide world of gems they inhabit in their travels. The place is so personal that if you tell manager Katherine Cotterill just what you want, she will string natural stones or pearls right there at her desk to match your vision — or your outfit.

Each of this year’s Cool Stores scored high in the category of individuality. Without that special sauce, even the most opulent store can feel cold.

On the other hand, when you’re able to be yourself, shoppers are delighted by the sense of ease and comfort that results from such authenticity.  How cool is that?

Eileen McClelland
eileen@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Create a proprietary wine label to share with clients in your store and add to your overall brand. (The Big Story, p. 46)
  • Provide “loaner” rings to customers to use to pop the question so that the fiancée can be involved in the selection/design process later. (The Big Story, p. 72)
  • Produce a video blog series that shows viewers how jewelry looks when worn and introduces new collections or pieces. (The Big Story, p. 36)
  • Offer concierge services for your clients, including making dinner reservations, finding local tours or calling up Google Maps for directions. (The Big Story, p. 66)
  • Sponsor a Champagne diamond giveaway, in which all participants receive a cubic zirconia and one trades in for a real diamond. (The Big Story, p. 78)
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