First of all, I hope you don’t have time to read this column right now. With Christmas just weeks away, I hope your in-box is over flowing, and if you are reading these pages like me, its with one hand holding a sandwich while the other hand is sorting through job envelopes and order tickets, all under the glow of the flashing message light of your phone. But, as always, the holidays will be behind us way too soon, and life will get back to normal. And, these pages will look a lot better when we are all relaxed.
In the interest of full disclosure, I love my Apple iPhone. I don’t know how we ever got along without it. And, according to my kids, I only use about 1% of its capabilities. Sure, I have pages of apps, but honestly, I only check a few of them regularly, and mostly to check out of town sports scores, or the latest photos of my new granddaughter.
But, I hate what the Apple iPhone is doing to our industry! When the new iPhone 6 was released, Apple sold more than 10 million in the first weekend! The analysts at Wells Fargo predict consumers will spend about $14 billion on iPhones from launch through year-end. That’s $14 billion that won’t be spent on jewelry this quarter. And, the inherent excitement has pretty much sucked all the oxygen out of jewelers’ showrooms. Its hard to think of any jewelry product that ever generated this much buzz when launched.
Soon the Apple watch will be available. This beauty will have speech recognition, messaging, and sensors galore to monitor your activity level and vital signs. Naturally, I’m looking forward to getting one, but I do feel badly about doing so.
It will be the first watch I ever bought for myself or family that didn’t come from my buddy’s jewelry store downtown. The Apple watch is expected to do billions in sales. That means lots of watches coming from Cupertino, not the neighborhood jeweler.
Watch battery replacement is one of the greatest promotional tools in our business today. Sharp retailers replace watch batteries for free. “While Junior changes the battery, let me show you these beautiful earrings that just came in!” Or, “As long as we have the watch, how about a fresh new strap? This one is looking a bit worn.” I understand the Apple watch comes with a charger which means fewer trips to the jewelry store, and therefore fewer opportunities for jewelers to make presentations.
Technology is great, but it comes with a steep price. Some of the world’s great literature would never have been written if cell phones were available years ago. If Romeo could have texted Juliet, “You OK?” Shakespeare wouldn’t have had much of a play to write. If Jerry could have stayed in constant contact with George and Kramer, we all would have been more productive on Thursday nights in the ‘90s. I’m looking forward to my Apple watch, but not what it does to watch sales in jewelry stores, and all that goes with it.
How do smart retailers prevent technology from taking a share of their market? Through innovation and forward thinking of their own. And to help guide them, the 55 members of The 24 Karat Club are standing by to offer their expert opinions and advice in their individual fields of expertise. Members of The 24 Karat Club are selected for their experience in the industry and their commitment to the retail jewelry business. When the holidays are over, make a note to check the directory on our website (www.The24KaratClub.org) and feel free to contact any of the members for helpful advice on how to compete against today’s new challenges.
We know how busy you are right now, so one final thought: The members of The 24 Karat Club are thinking of you, appreciate all that you do, and wish you a wonderful Holiday Season, filled with family, love, good health and peace.
Howard Kelrick is President of Finger Mate and a board member of The 24 Karat Club, SEUS. Finger Mate manufactures and installs expandable ring shanks and sells to retail jewelers throughout North America. Contact Howard at 954-458-2700 or e-mail Howard@FingerMate.com.