Trace Shelton is Editor-in-Chief of INDESIGN Magazine and Contributing Editor of INSTORE. His current favorite topics to cover include social media, marketing, and store environment, but you could also get him excited about merchandising and sales if you’ve got something new to say.
I was in high school when Nelson Mandela was finally released from Victor Verster prison in South Africa in 1990, and still in college when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and then the South African presidency in 1994. I remember being struck by his wide grin, kind eyes, and steely resolve. It was obvious to me then that this was a great man, but only experience and living life can help a person fully understand monumental achievement, and I understand today that few have achieved as much as Mandela, especially in the cause of human rights.
While the National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 4% during November and December, analysts believe that sales will often be generated at the expense of profits, according to HuffingtonPost.com. In other words, the big-name retailers feel that they must offer huge discounts in order to make sales this holiday season. What does this mean for jewelry retailers?
My 17-year-old daughter began her first retail job this past weekend, working as seasonal help for Nine West. She’s already made her first big mistake – she was supposed to work on a particular day, but because she wasn’t trained on how to view the schedule, she misread it and missed her shift. That said, Nine West was smart to hire her a week in advance of “Black Friday,” since she’s now learned from that mistake and was able to learn from several encounters with customers over the weekend. She should be ready to do a great job next weekend and throughout the holiday selling season.
Over the years, I’ve heard lots of complaints from jewelers about consumers being duped into buying poor-quality diamonds by unscrupulous retailers and/or labs. Long’s Jewelers of Boston recently created an event that served as a great starting point for the type of education that prevents consumers from making these mistakes – and by the way, also promoted the particular diamond brand (Lazare) that Long’s carries.
Manufacturers and designers no longer have a monopoly on smartphone apps in the jewelry industry. Several retailers have gotten into the technology game in an effort to engage consumers in the interactive process of choosing an engagement ring even when they’re not physically in the store, including Tiffany, BC Clark, and now, Hamilton Jewelers.
A patented new machine , The Beauty Grade, measures the light return from a diamond on a scale from 1 (worst) to 100 (best). Once systematized, The Beauty Grade could change the way that people look at and value diamonds.
In 2006 , I had the good fortune to travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to cover INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Store for that year, Underwood’s Jewelers, owned by father-son team Bill and Craig Underwood. It was a thrill to see the architectural genius of the Fay Jones-designed building and store in person, but the store was cool for so many other reasons as well. Probably the coolest aspect of all is the people – everyone at Underwood’s (especially the Underwoods themselves) are friendly, nice, and incredibly enthusiastic about the jewelry business.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about talking to jewelry designers on a regular basis is the incredible fraternity and mutual admiration that they share with one another. For an upcoming article, I surveyed several designers to find out whose work they admired in 2013. Here were some of their answers.
For business owners, exposure without a price tag is generally preferred over anything that costs money, and so publicity is often viewed as the free goose that lays golden eggs. But as football analyst Lee Corso says each Saturday, “Not so fast my friend.” PR has its value, certainly, but advertising is often worth much more and is well worth the expense.
We’re starting something fun and valuable in our next issue of INDESIGN: Combining our Sales Pitches and Style Counsel sections, so that you get insights from both retailers and trend experts on a particular jewelry category. For September/October, that category is bridal. A pattern emerged out of the comments of three retailers and three experts. Here are a few selected comments: