We have been faced with some unique challenges over the last few years and I don’t think that is going to change this fourth quarter. The surprise for many has been how well the jewelry industry did through most of the pandemic. While it wasn’t great for everyone, those who moved their marketing online and offered buy online/pick-up in-store did very well.
I’ve been talking to suppliers and retailers and the take-away from my conversations has been that business has slowed down. There are some clear reasons for the weakness in the industry. We are facing the highest inflation since the 1970s and up until just recently the stock market had been in a free fall. Gas was at record prices and the supply chain issues – while getting better – still haven’t been resolved. All of the industry competitors (with the exception of the automotive industry) are back in operation and Covid, while less aggressive, is still with us. As of this writing, the consumer confidence index stands at 95.7 down 2.7 from June, and don’t forget about Ukraine.
But let’s look at the bright side. It’s not all gloom and doom. Commodity market prices have been falling for the last several weeks and that is having a positive effect on gas and even some food costs. The Fed has been diligent about getting inflation in check which, we hope, will stabilize consumer pricing even more. The stock market is starting to see some positive moves recently, and if they can get the supply chain functioning in a normal way this could be a good fourth quarter.
This is what we are facing. So while the overall market looks a little brighter, it could change overnight. As a retail jeweler, what do you do? I’ll walk you through some steps that will help you succeed in these uncertain times.
- If you do not have a total business operation system (POS system) in your store, now is the time to install one. There are a number of systems out there built specifically for retail jewelers such as The Edge and you should have it installed and operational before the holiday season.
- Get your marketing in order. Create a plan and set-up a spreadsheet with all relevant dates and action steps. This calendar of events should include the start dates on actions such as: the creation and due dates of print solicitation materials, social post creation and posting dates, eblast creation and scheduling, and your engagement strategy for social platforms. You will need to plan specific events such as Lady’s night, Men’s night, VIP Party, and trunk shows. 47% of interviewed Americans said they like to participate in store events. Have your invitations/solicitations both direct mail and digital prepared well in advance of the event date. If you are mailing for any event be cognizant of the fact that the mail is running much slower than it has in the past. Consequently, give yourself plenty of time for print materials to arrive.
- Use three or more marketing channels for your campaigns. By using an omni channel approach for your marketing, your sell-through rate will see a 287% greater return over a single channel. And be consistent with your messaging across all channels. Just maintaining continuity across all channels will increase your revenue over a single channel strategy by 33%.
- When sending out direct mail remember the 40/40/20 rule. Your success is based on 40% of the quality of your list, 40% is the effectiveness of your offer, and 20% is the quality of your creativity.
- Whenever possible, personalize your communications. Personalized customer content has shown to increase the spend of a shopper. Almost half of U.S. consumers have purchased something more expensive than originally planned because their customer experience was personalized. Personalized invitations for a private event take extra work, but can pay off, especially around the holidays. Have staff write personal notes inviting them to the event.
- Don’t forget your existing customers. Stay on top of birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events that are important to your base. With everything else that takes place during the holidays it is easy to overlook these events, but it is crucial to maintain strong communication with your core customer.
- Though the mail is slower than usual and the cost of printing and paper have gone through the roof, mail has in fact become a more viable marketing tool. Because of the print issues, many marketers have abandoned print, making for far less clutter in your targets’ mailbox. The advantage to you is the consumer will spend more time with your catalog, direct mailer, or postcard than they would have in the past. It has also shown that these materials (particularly catalogs) stay in the house longer, on average 20 plus days, making your brand more relevant.
- Let’s talk radio. Some stores rely on this medium almost exclusively. While I would never recommend putting all of your eggs in one basket, radio, if it is affordable in your market, can be very effective as part of an omni channel strategy. If you are using radio I would recommend using a female voice. Women respond more favorably to female voices by 14% and men respond more favorably by 5%.
- Your website. It only takes 50 milliseconds for a user to form an opinion of your website, and 94% of first impressions are design-related. 83% of visitors expect your site to load in three seconds. Those same visitors want a seamless experience on all devices. If potential customers find your website lacking, they will judge you and seek out competition. You will lose sales. Have someone conduct an honest analysis of your site and update what you can right now. List every event on your homepage and event page as soon as you have the dates and details lined up. The earlier people visiting your website see them, the more likely they are to take note and attend.
- Emails that feature gift guides generate 48% higher sales compared to other promotional emails. An online gift guide is the perfect way to highlight certain products, attract purchases from early-season shoppers, and inspire last-minute shoppers. Consider your customers and how you’ll want to organize the guide: by product category, budget, gender, etc. Your format could be as simple as a blog post, or more elaborate, like a landing page or flip book catalog. Once you have it pulled together, start segmenting your customer list and emailing the link out.
- Now let’s look at your online social presence. 58% of holiday shoppers will be influenced by social media. Among those shoppers, two of the most influential social platforms are Facebook (67%) and Instagram (52%). 83% of consumers said they’re likely to visit the social media page of a brand or product they’re interested in. 30% of online shoppers say they would be likely to make a purchase through social media.
Craft a campaign of organic and paid posts. Paid campaigns allow you to target jewelry shoppers in your community and drive them into your store or onto your website. However, key promotional dates during the season do have higher advertising costs. Find a balance. Do a few posts a week that have paid advertising behind them, and make sure they hit all the high points of making it as easy as possible for people to shop with you for the holidays. For your organic posts, share pictures from your holiday events, or a couple getting engaged with a ring from your store. These are feel good posts and consumers love them.
Schedule out ALL of your holiday social media posts so there’s no surprises. Your own key business dates and promotions might impact your social posts. Map these out well in advance so you can include them when planning your campaigns. Key dates might include new product launches, restocks, and last order dates for guaranteed delivery or personalization. Don’t leave these decisions until the last minute. You may need to include some of this information in your post copy or make changes if stock isn’t available. There’s nothing more annoying to consumers than being shown a post or ad for something they can’t buy.
62% of people say they become more interested in products they see in stories. Stories are an “in the moment” feature on Facebook and Instagram that allow users to create a time-sensitive, auto-playing mix of images, videos, or both that can be enriched with backgrounds, texts, stickers, animations, music, emojis and effects. Social media Stories are designed to be alive for just 24 hours, then disappear automatically. If you’re not yet using the stories feature in Facebook or Instagram – both organic and paid – then you need to start.
- When it comes to video on social media, 93% of businesses landed a new customer after sharing a video on one of their social platforms. 55% of consumers were influenced to make a purchase for the holidays after viewing a video from a brand on social media. Consumers like custom content from brands. To them, this makes your brand more trustworthy. A high quality video – even a brief one – allows you to present your store’s personality, show what makes you unique, and tell your brand story.
46% of consumers said video is the #1 way they prefer to learn about a product while holiday shopping. Through video, customers can see how jewelry sparkles. When you utilize a model, they’re able to see how it looks when worn.
- Get personal with ringless voicemail drops. Save time and stay personal without the obnoxious (and usually unanswered) phone calls. This unique service allows you to Invite specific customers to your holiday events, sales, or to wish them a happy holiday in three easy steps. Prerecord your message, choose your recipients, and schedule your voicemails. (Sly Broadcast)
- The majority of podcast listeners are affluent, educated millennials. And you now have the capability to geo-target podcast ads by country, region, state, metro, and DMA (designated market areas). Though demographics data is currently limited, most podcasts have a good handle on their typical listener profile through the use of listener surveys, social media engagement, and interacting with their audience, and they make this information available to potential advertisers. More local stores are turning to this medium to reach their customers, so consider podcasts if this is a place you’d like to include in spend your ad spend.
- Google searches for “jewelry” climb in early November, peaking right before Christmas, from Dec. 12 to 25. “Jewelry near me,” “jewelry store,” and “jewelry stores” are top related queries. Make sure that your Google My Business listing is active. When a user searches for your business name in Google Maps, your location will be displayed, along with your address, contact number, photos, and reviews. It’s aimed at reaching your local community, you can include updates (like if you’re having an event or sale), and you can reach potential customers on all devices. Plus, it’s free.
- Look for add-on opportunities. An example of this would be jewelry insurance. There are several companies that offer various types of policies that cost you nothing and pay you for the transaction. One of these companies is Zillion. Their program allows your customer to leave your store with their product fully insured without filling out any forms, no appraisal needed, or any up-front payments. This is a simple additional revenue stream at point of sale that adds to your bottom line.
Follow these steps and you should have a successful holiday season. If you need any help or just have questions feel free to contact me. Rick Arnemann is the CEO of Harmon Group. Located in Nashville, TN, Harmon Group is a leading marketing and communications strategy company for jewelry retailers and jewelry businesses. For more information visit harmongrp.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 615-256-3393.