There’s a new reality for all of us retailers out here about the way people buy their stuff. I don’t really like it, but that doesn’t seem to matter to most people. I don’t like to use the phrase, “in the old days,” simply because the old days were literally just a few years ago… not like a 100 years ago.
Heck, the old days are so recent that there is still a significant percentage of the population that still does their shopping the old way. There are many instances where most of us still shop the same exact same way as we’ve always shopped, i.e. grocery shopping and buying gas. Does anyone remember when buying gas went from full service to self-service? Talk about a revolt across the land!
But, as the owner of an old school brick-and-mortar retail store, I have the pleasure of dealing with the old school and the new school on a daily basis. Here’s a few of my recent experiences:
Old School: One of my wholesale customers called me and needed a diamond for a customer that lost her engagement ring and had just received a big fat check from her insurance company. I memo’d him three diamonds and his customer chose the 2.97 ct. in a simple 6 prong Tiffany style setting. Because that diamond was pushing the upper end of everyone’s budget, he said if I’d throw in the appraisal, he could probably use that to make the sale happen. Since he was buying the diamond and the mounting from me, I said, “Absolutely.”
The next day he brought me a very large check and the two diamonds he was returning and I handed him the appraisal which I had discounted to the amazingly low price of free. I then deposited the check and promptly spent all the money on boring stuff like rent, utilities, suppliers and beer. Just a day in the life, I suppose.
New School: A guy comes in with a 2 ct. diamond he purchased from one website, and a micro pavé halo mounting (with about 800 diamonds in it) he purchased from another website. He did all his research and buying new school, but now needed to kick it old school to marry his two individual purchases into one completed ring, so he came to visit me. Probably because he found me online. Yes, I can kick it new school with the best of them!
He was startled, to say the least, that I was going to charge him for this service. After all, he did all the hard work, right? Sorry dude, I know we just met and all, but no discount for you.
Then, you’d think I called his mother a bad word when he found out it was going to cost him $225 to set his diamond and another $135 to size the ring up a size and a half. Nope, no discount for you today.
Then, he acted like I’d kicked his dog, when he found out an insurance appraisal was another $150. He has the audacity to ask me if he could get a discount on the appraisal because he was already paying me to do the other work. Uh, let me think about it. NO! No discount for you.
Seriously people, you don’t get an “atta boy” from us retailers out here because you spent your entire lunch hour for the last 2 or 3 months going online and doing your own research and comparisons to get the best deal on the planet. But, that’s what a lot of people do, so all I can say is, “No discount for you.”
Of course, had he bought the diamond and the mounting from me, I would have set, sized, and appraised it for the discounted price of free!
Old School: One of my longtime customers came in and told me that her husband was retiring at the end of the year and she wanted to buy him a very specific Rolex watch that he’d been dreaming about for years. Although I’m not a Rolex dealer, I know about a thousand of them, and she was looking for a very specific used watch that had been out of production for several years. Just my luck (or my expertise, you decide), I found it on the first call and it was at one of my local dealers. It turned out to be the exact watch that he had been dreaming about and it was well within her budget.
Although the watch was running fine, I convinced her to let us service it before she gave it to her husband. I told her that I would only charge her my cost on the service, saving her hundreds and hundreds of dollars in the future, and it would ensure that her husband would have years of trouble free enjoyment out of his new toy. I was happy to discount the service to make the sale. She thought that was a pretty good idea, and it was still well within her budget.
A few weeks later, she and her husband came in and he was sporting his new Rolex and just as proud as he could be, but it was a little too big on his arm. I said something like, “Well, let me just take care of that for you real quick.” I adjusted his band for the discounted price of free, and sent them on their merry way. Everyone was as happy as they could be – except for the guy that came in next.
New School: You actually know this guy because he was in your store yesterday, too. He’s the guy that came in with the really large bright yellow box that has a watch buried somewhere inside of all of that packaging, and it needs to be adjusted to fit his wrist. And, as usual, he’s spent way too much time on the Internet, shopping, comparing, and looking, and comparing and reading reviews. See, I told you, you know this guy.
Anyway, I swear I didn’t say anything bad about his mother, I simply said; “We charge $25 to adjust the bands on those watches.” Egad! Why do all of these guys feel like I should reward them for their hard work, all that shopping and comparing, and size them for free? Well buddy, all I can say is, “No discount for you!”
And then after he left, his wallet $25 lighter, a guy walks in carrying a thick stack of papers from Blue Nile and the likes, wanting me to help him understand it all so he could make a smarter purchase, AAAUUUUGGGHHHH! Somebody make them stop.
Yes, I know that this is just the way it is nowadays, the co-mingling of the old and the new. But honestly, if these new school people would just understand that there are professionals right there in their hometown that will do all of the shopping and comparing for them and sell it for about the same price, with none of the hassle.
Oh, to live in a perfect world.