The COVID-19 pandemic has created waves that extend far beyond healthcare. The plight of the independent jeweler is no different. According to the Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT), there are 18,353 full-time headquartered jewelry retail businesses in the U.S. The JBT’s 2020 statistics show a 3.8% decrease versus last year in retail jewelers, likely reflecting the challenges independent jewelers are finding when competing against larger retailers such as Costco, Walmart and the like.
Main Street jewelers will need to embrace technology as well as the efficiency and opportunities it provides to regain momentum. As the impacts of coronavirus continue to be felt throughout the industry, jewelers need to start thinking outside the box to support sales and keep their doors open.
The pandemic has changed perspectives and has caused jewelers to rethink how they will continue to operate into the future. Right now, the ability to perform “business as usual” is looking vastly different for brick and mortar jewelers. To compete with larger jewelry chains, an agile mentality and efficient digital operating platforms are useful to optimize sales efforts.
Many local jewelers are taking advantage of a variety of these digital tools – from appraisal software packages to point-of-sale (POS) systems – as well as online pricing and news sources. While these resources can be extremely valuable, the combination of necessary software becomes costly. However, with the advent of “one-stop” web-based platforms, we are starting to see a rise in back-end jeweler productivity. Not only does this option eliminate the need for software and potential IT costs, it can be more intuitive, easier to use, and all encompassing.
For example, web-based platforms can help jewelers make informed purchasing decisions through online, global marketplaces. If powered by reputable organizations, suppliers can confidently share inventory, including specifications, grading and pricing information, which gives local jewelers transparent and secure access to products around the world. With a larger selection and greater variety of products available, jewelers can select cost-effective options and procure products as needed, reducing the need for large supplies of onsite inventory.
Online appraisal tools also offer jewelers the ability to generate professional appraisals in a matter of minutes. Utilizing established resources such as Gemworld, stores can quickly provide customers with a digital appraisal for insurance purposes while minimizing the amount of in-store time and physical contact required.
Given the implementation of stay-at-home orders and the continued rise of e-commerce, jewelers should also consider other opportunities to move products and resources online, including personal jewelry claim processing, and mentioning internet-based jewelry insurance providers to customers as options to reduce face-to-face contact during the current pandemic. Additionally, online claims processing enables jewelers to expedite the filing and management of insurance claims, allowing customers to replace their treasured pieces faster and limit the amount of contact required.
Similarly, as we’ve seen a shift to online purchasing, more shipping tools and resources have become available to jewelry retailers. These create consolidated lists of fast and cost-effective shipping options, all designed specifically for the jewelry industry with added security.
The good news is there is hope, and there are viable solutions that can help. Digital solutions will continue to be relevant long after the pandemic and innovate the way main street jewelry transactions are conducted. By adopting and implementing the online resources available to them, independent jewelry retailers can minimize costs, meet customer needs and stay competitive well into the future.