Are all customers created equal?

No, I haven’t been reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm (“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”), and yes, you should treat every customer as if they are worth gold to you. But you haven’t enough hours in the day for everybody and everything you have to do. Recognizing what, and whom, are most important can let you concentrate on the minority of customers who give you the majority of your sales.

So who are the types of shoppers you have - and which are more equal than others?

The first is the customer.

Customers are people who frequent your shop on a non-regular basis. You don’t know them and they don’t know you. They are not lovers of jewelry and they may be purchasing for one or two reasons:

• They are making a once in a lifetime purchase such as an engagement ring (I didn’t say they can’t be profitable!) or

• They are fair weather friends - you only see them when you hold your annual sale or there is a discount deal of some sort happening

These jewelry customers have no loyalty or desire for a relationship with you and sometimes can cost you more than they generate in revenue. They may represent half of all the people who visit your store, but only contribute 30% of your revenue (and even less of your profit due to the lower margins and cost of acquiring them).

The second is the client.

These people are reasonably regular customers. They know you and you know them. They may represent about 40% of the people who visit your store and contribute around 40% of your stores sales.

They can sometimes be hard work - particularly with discount - but are repeat visitors and although not restricting their spending to you they are well disposed to shopping with you.

The third (and most important) is the enthusiast.

These people make regular visits to your store and love jewelry immensely. You are often on a first name basis with them and they generate lots of revenue and profit for you. They’ve probably written reviews for your website (if they haven’t it’s time you asked them) and will be fans of your Facebook page. They will represent less than 10% of your client basis but contribute over 30% of the sales and even more of the profit in your store (as you don’t need expensive marketing to get them back). They love to see what new items you are offering, and when they buy they love to tell their friends about it. These people are a walking endorsement for what you have to offer.

So how do you handle each category?

Let’s focus on the enthusiasts. These people are your lifeblood, but what is the reason they buy from you?

There may be all sorts of reasons, but the predominant two will be these: they are passionate about jewelry and you make them feel special.

If there is one human trait that motivates everybody, it is the desire to be recognized and valued. These customers may give reasons such as competitive pricing, or unique product lines as why they shop with you but you and I know the same product (often at better prices) can be found elsewhere.

They love you because you love them back (often without knowing it). It is a mutual admiration society.

So if you want to grow your sales, let the customers take care of themselves, look after the enthusiasts like your life depends on it (they may spend even more) and concentrate on finding those clients who are passionate about jewelry that you can make feel more special. Even growing your best clients by 1-2% could be adding as much as 5-10% to your sales and at least the same to your bottom line (remember marketing to them is easier and cheaper and they are often less likely to ask for discount).

So many businesses treat their customers with indifference - you’ll be surprised at the impact adopting this philosophy can have.

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 877-569-8657.