Change is in the air

Ah, I have been waiting over three years to write this article. But for too long I hadn’t sensed a turning of the financial tide within the jewelry industry.

Until now.

Finally there is a glimmer of change on the horizon. And I am beginning to hear a different tune from jewelers across the country – one of customers starting to return, one of sales associates energized about previously stagnant product lines, and even renewed interest in diamond and gold jewelry!

The New York Times reported in April that luxury purchases were making a comeback – and “consumers are buying again,” but the rules have changed since the boom year of 2007.

The Times article revealed how the current 2010 luxury consumer is overly cautious and wants a bargain on their luxury purchase.

A similar article in the Orange County Register quotes the CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue, Steve Sadove, saying that luxury purchases are definitely making a comeback - but their store is going through changes including, “investing millions to improve its relationship with the customer,” department managers taking on a coaching role for their associates, and focusing on “the buying history of shoppers to encourage more purchases.”

What can we learn from the big retail players? That customer relationships/service, training, and evaluating customers’ buying history are paramount to the new 2010 economy.

Are you applying the same strategies?

You should.

It is up to individual jewelers how to approach and entice their returning customers. Use the following three easy and effective actions to set your store on the right track for a profitable recovery:

Use your sales meetings as training sessions for your employees. Role-playing is an incredibly effective way to improve customer relationships and encourage your sales associates to ask “information gathering questions” while also suggesting additional products.

Role-playing is simply pretending to have a conversation with a customer in the safe setting of your office meeting with an employee acting as a customer. It’s a dynamic training tool that is under-used in most retail stores. Implement this immediately into your next store meeting!

Train your sales team to know the intimate details of jewelry lines in your store. Returning luxury customers want to know what they are purchasing, unlike before the economic downturn when appearance trumped the back-story of a piece.  Nowadays the client is more receptive when the jewelry salesperson is vastly knowledgeable. Your store staff will be known as the well-informed jewelers.

Keep a record of customer spending habits - and regularly review it! Do you know your top 50 customers? You should.

Keeping a record of client spending behavior can assist you in planning promotional campaigns and exclusive marketing. Saks Fifth Avenue knows the importance of tracking, and if you implement the same strategy you can use suggestive selling more effectively.

The tide is finally turning for our jewelry industry! And there is such anticipated excitement in the air. Capture that change with solid training for your employees while also keeping track of your customers spending habits. Keep the momentum of positive change continuing in your store.

Ivan Levi is celebrating his 27th year in the jewelry industry.  He is president of Ivan Alan jewels® and Ivan Alan Solutions™.  His dynamic sales training seminars are attended throughout the country at trade shows and in-store meetings.  To contact Ivan for seminar information, call 800-235-1918.