I am a good fiancé. Sincerely. Case in point: I recently set out to buy my first and last engagement ring. Something really elegant, classic and unique – like Julie, my fiancée. But I didn’t have a favorite jewelry store. Still don’t.
So I asked for advice to find the perfect place. I also read up on jewelry stores on the internet. This was kind of a busman’s venture, because a part of my business focuses on giving retailers advice on the best ways to present themselves!
I realized that the destination jewelry stores had these 5 factors in common (these factors also relate to other retail establishments):
The top ones all put effort into presenting an upscale appearance. Their store location, its furnishings and the professional staff are significant barometers of their store’s cache. Jewelry retailers may cater to differing demographics, but an elegant appearance seems to be essential.
The best jewelry stores set out to make it a wonderful experience to be there.
The people behind the counter are polite, attentive, acknowledge you and make eye contact when you walk in. They act the same way towards you regardless of how you look and if you are ready to buy now or later. Fixtures are updated. The lighting is cozy and enveloping. A couple of nicely padded couches make you feel right at home. You feel a sense of tranquility when you first walk in. Organized displays with spot-lit arrangements reinforce the oasis-like atmosphere.
There’s never been a better time to coddle customers in local shops, with the increased competition being felt from mass marketers and on line stores. So with my years of marketing and sales experience in retail, here are some off the (diamond) cuff ideas for jewelers to polish up their store’s appeal.
- Make your store sparkle as much as your jewelry. If you can, enlarge the public areas with fewer counters and more open space. Set aside private areas for customer consultations.
- When possible, come out from behind the counter. Become more accessible.
- Keep data cards of every customer to get to know them better and set aside pieces you think she’d love. Take note of the person’s immediate needs and have fun predicting their ultimate desires.
- Support customers with a wish list on your website. Keep a hard copy in their files.
- Read “Hug Your Customer” by Jack Mitchell. He’s a clothing retailer in posh Westport and Greenwich, Connecticut who’s perfected the art of customer delight. He counts among his store’s devotees heads of state and heads of families, alike.
- Host special events for your loyal customers and their friends just like Mitchells does regularly – e.g. Book launches. Make it an invitation only evening for 10 couples, say, complete with champagne and caviar. Spotlight an expert on diamonds, explaining cuts and carats to a select audience.
- Post a calendar of events on your website and keep it updated. Hand a copy of it in your store to your walk-ins and customers. Fill up the calendar with activities, so the early retirees and the work at home moms and dads can find reason to drop in. Often.
- Help your clients to get to know each other. When you know what they want and need, you can make ‘match ups’ happen with ease. Think of your store as the social hub of the greater community – create your version of LinkedIn.com.
- Send a client an unexpected gift of appreciation. Take a treasured client out to lunch occasionally.
- Be known as experts on all things jewelry. Put a glossary of terms in your next mailing. Post an ‘Ask Us’ section of your website and upload answers in an FAQ section.
- Re-invest in your community. Be known for making charitable donations and providing in-kind services. (That specific generosity is something the mass merchandisers and on line retailers can’t duplicate.)
- Sometimes rather than do advertising, send personalized cards to each of your clients. There’s a remarkable service called “Sendout Cards” which issues hand-written notes to very small or even large customer lists. Check out this value added service for your customers, www.sendoutcards.com/21544.
To really shine in today’s retail environment (regardless of your industry), when the competition is coming from chain stores and the internet, you need to play up your strongest points. In the case of jewelry stores, that’s personalized service, plush surroundings, gorgeous merchandise, and a chance to make your place the very center point of the community.
Catering to customers can be a jewelry store’s best form of branding, making them irresistible destinations in the neighborhood. Hug your customers!!
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