For some time now there has been quite a bit of talk among retailers about how a great many of our vendors seem to have forgotten who their customer is! Even more importantly, it seems like we retailers are being dictated to in such a manner that 15 years ago would have never been thought possible. What am I referring to? Simple - vendors seem to think they can dictate how we buy from them, how much we buy, when we will buy, how we market the product, when we’ll market the product and the cycle just goes on and on and on!
Of course, this doesn’t apply to every vendor or the majority of them, but to those select few who seem to have forgotten where their bread is buttered! I’m also echoing a sentiment felt by myself as well as a lot of independent store owners that I meet and talk to at industry shows and events. I realize the wholesaler/retailer relationship is a symbiotic one. It needs to be win/win for both, but as of late it seems some large and not so large vendors are trying to tip things in their favor.
More than one time I have heard fellow independent store owners say, “It’s time we took things back and let our vendors know who the customer is! They need us just as much as we need them!”
Vendors, we understand that you have certain policies we need to adhere to and yes, we get it! But not at the expense of choking the life out of a retailer! What do you think gives you the right to dictate how often we will buy from you and how much? Remember, you’re lucky to have your line represented in our store. We could have chosen someone else you know!
To quote a recent store owner, “If I’ve paid for the product, it becomes mine to do with from that point on and I’ll sell it as I please and reorder it when I’m good and ready.” Yes, we understand that a product/line needs to be represented properly and for most jewelers, that will never be a problem. Don’t think for a minute that the store owner couldn’t buy a similar style if not better product elsewhere, be thankful they chose to do biz with you…it’s a compliment!!!
Let us move on to the subject of stock balancing and returns. Any reasonable retailer understands you’ve got to make a living and heck, no one likes to take a return. However, it needs to be understood that in order to have a successful relationship, there will be times we need to return items to stock balance. If you make it easy for us, we’re much more likely to do much more business with you in the long run and guess what - we’ll tell our friends!
Many a jeweler’s pet peeve is being told how to advertise and market your product! We’re glad for your help and ask for it freely, but please don’t tell us things like “You’ll do it this way or else.” We understand our individual markets better than you ever will and we know what works for our store better than anyone. Yes, it must be ethical and in good taste - again we get it.
This article is not aimed at anyone in particular but comes as the result of multiple conversations with store owners over the last couple of years who feel as frustrated as I have at times. For the most part, our industry is made up of wonderful vendors who truly care about their clients and want what’s best for them. To those vendors I say, “Thank you and keep up the good work!”
However, if you’re one of those aforementioned vendors with a popular line of jewelry who has grown too big for their britches just know - it will come back to bite you. We the independent jewelers of this great land are watching closely. You need us much more than you realize. Think carefully about how you conduct business with independent jewelers, do it right and you’ll come out a winner! Do it wrong and ultimately you’ll pay the price!