Thursday, 22 September 2011

Black and White

I had a great visit with two young gentlemen in the retail jewellery trade this week.  Both work in high-end stores, and both are concerned about the pesky competition we face from on-line diamond sales. 

Both Andrew and Matt have been in the industry long enough to have seen the client you dread.  The one who already bought the diamond or the ring on-line and now wants you to set their diamond or make a matching wedding band.  Once that ship has sailed, you can try to earn their long-term business, but there’s always that “burr in your craw” about the bigger sale that you didn’t get.

The answer to this problem does not lie in what you do with this customer now, but how to keep them from buying online in the first place.  It’s not necessarily the younger generation buying on-line; rather it’s just a whole new paradigm that has taken hold of modern individuals of all ages.

The new paradigm is all about Freedom of Information.  Don’t forget that most people have come through your store before deciding to buy on-line.  You had your chance, and blew it.  They felt that they might be missing out on something after leaving your store.

At one time, we elected officials and trusted that they would act earnestly on our behalf.  At one time, you’d visit a doctor and hang on his or her every word.  At one time, you would seek council from a sage car salesman for explanations of features and benefits of the car brands you were loyal to.

In today’s paradigm, we exercise our right to Freedom of Information.  It’s all there at our fingertips: the Kelly Blue Book (used car values), patient ratings of doctors, online medical self-diagnostic tools, parliamentary meeting minutes, Wiki-lieaks, and all kinds of consumer information websites.   These give your clients just enough information to be dangerous.

One way to combat this new paradigm is to fight fire with fire!  Almost 20 years ago now, we decided to increase our repair prices.  It felt risky because a sizing had been $12 for so long, and jumping it to $20 seemed drastic.  What did I do?  I took a really nice binder, and printed on fancy paper a shiny new repair price list.  When a client asked how much for 4 tips and a new half-shank, I just opened up the binder, ran my finger down the page and read-off the prices.  It was right there in black and white.  I didn’t REALLY have to look it up; I knew what exactly what the pricing was.  But, we never had a challenge to our newly raised pricing because it was in BLACK AND WHITE.

Consumers are mistaking information on the internet as accurate; even though only some of it is.  If you're open and concise with your information; show a good selection of diamonds and jewellery; and they can see, touch and feel your jewellery, how can you miss?

Suggested content for your very own information binder:
  • ·      Repair price list
  • ·      Diamond price lists with retail pricing
  • ·      Four C’s (I suggest you write your own with an emphasis on the rarity of higher quality and size levels)
  • ·      Gold and platinum information; including alloy content, nickel allergies and rhodium plating
  • ·      Jewellery care and maintenance
  • ·      Warranty policy
  • ·      Return / exchange policy

Again, even if you know all of this information by heart, reciting it with the open page in front of you will add weight to your assertions.  If you do this well, they might even come to trust you more than the internet.

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