Over the last ten years, with the great recession and the advent of “Millennials,” my viewpoints on a great many things have changed. It has caused me to ask myself if I am “Revolving” or in other words, doing the same old traditional methods of operation in a retail jewelry store over and over again. It has also caused me to think more in the terms of “Evolving” our store’s operation from a macro or “Big Picture” approach.
In this article I’d like to examine several methods of retail operation I’m seeing happening in our industry as I visit jewelry stores, boutiques and studios everywhere I go. Obviously, I will not be able to cover them all in one article so this may be a succession of articles. For right now, I’d like to cover two interesting methods of doing business in the retail jewelry realm.
One of the old axiom’s we’ve all heard over the years is, “You can’t sell what you don’t have.” In many ways I still find this to be true, but let me let you in on something that has changed my thinking about this. After visiting Stuller’s headquarters during one of their popular “Bridge Events,” I came away with a new perspective and that is….the use of “Prototype” mountings in selling bridal as well as other jewelry products.
Let me go a step further in telling you that on my flight back home from Stuller, I sat next to another jeweler from the Midwest and we had the most interesting conversation. She told me about her small “Studio” operation in a busy downtown area. She also explained how she had a robust repair business (she had just purchased a laser welder) and used Stuller and Gems One prototype bridal mountings in conjunction with her CAD/CAM program to sell lots of diamond engagement rings. This along with the event I had just attended was a real “Eye Opener” for this at-the-time “Traditional” retail jeweler.
Needless to say, over the last 5-7 years I’ve had the chance to speak and visit with several jewelers who incorporate “Prototype” mountings in their stores to sell bridal, and surprisingly, other diamond products such as pendants and earrings. So, you really can sell what you don’t have with the use of CAD/CAM programs and prototype mounting sales!
Let’s back up for just a moment and revisit CAD/CAM. You truly can create great visual products on a big flat screen for your customers to see. It truly is the ultimate in custom jewelry design! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking those who love to carve waxes, etc. and do everything by hand - on the contrary I believe CAD work only enhances this. Plus, CAD opens the door for those who couldn’t before do custom work. There are several CAD programs out there to choose from. Investigate and see which is best for you!
Since we’ve talked about the “Studio Jeweler” business model for a moment, let’s revisit the “Traditional Retail” jewelry model. I believe, as do many others, that traditional jewelry stores will never completely die but will have to change with the times to keep Millennials engaged with their respective businesses. What can a traditional jeweler take from all of this? I’m so glad you asked…
In the last 5-7 years, I’ve noticed other stores switching from a traditional jewelry operation to a “Destination Jewelry Store” even though they came from the traditional vein but now operate on “Steroids!” How did they do it? Many have purchased laser welders which enabled them to do more complex repairs than ever before and to do those things they were doing faster and more efficiently.
Many have added a CAD program which made them now able to create pretty much anything from scratch and be able to show it to their clients - even pictured on their hand! Most say it took a little while to get this going, but when it clicked, it really clicked! I know I wouldn’t dream of doing without it now!
Adding a computerized engraver/milling machine might be another piece of the puzzle that has enabled many to continually offer more and more in the way of custom jewelry and the personalization of it. Again, you really can sell something you don’t have when you’re able to offer these kinds of services.
So in conclusion, if you’re not “Evolving” then you’re just going to be like those who are “Revolving” and doing the same old thing over and over expecting new results. I think they say this is the definition of insanity. In my next few articles, we’ll explore other interesting jewelry store models I’ve come upon in my travels. The question is - are you willing to be open minded enough to accept that which is new and could possibly revolutionize your store’s operation?