3 Ways Independent Jewelry Retailers Can Adapt Post COVID-19
As retail finds its new normal post-COVID-19, one thing continues to linger in the air: the uncertainty for small public-facing retailers – particularly independent jewelers. Jewelry stores, like all other physical stores, have been closed across America since March 2020, and in many cases, retailer jewelers are closing their shutters permanently. Even before the pandemic, in-store jewelers were facing stiff competition from online jewelers and an increasing preference for online shopping by millennials. Now, with the customer-facing nature of the job, fears over trying on jewelry and an increasing ‘look don’t touch’ paranoia mean that independent jewelry retailers are having to adapt their operations – fast if they want to survive.
Brand Story Becomes Even More Crucial
With the rapid shift to online sales, small independent businesses, including jewelers, will have to rely more on their connection with their customers to garner support. While they are hesitant to spend, the majority of them said they would be willing to spend the same or more on jewelry if it is meaningful. In the 2020 Platinum Jewelry Business Review 2020, it was revealed that customers are looking for jewelry pieces that hold some significance or to give to loved ones. To evoke a personal connection, storytelling and bespoke pieces will prove popular. Using digital platforms like Instagram, small independent jewelers can highlight their origin stories, share their passion for the business, and promote their support for local causes, making them more relatable to consumers.
Virtual Consultations Will Retain Their Space In The Jewelry World
For jewelers that have opted to keep going throughout the pandemic, they have had to accelerate their technological side by offering eCommerce shopping and virtual consultations. With the closure of physical jewelry stores, consumers have been turning to the internet for the perfect stone for their proposal. However, offering virtual consultations by phone, email or video calls can also prove to be incredibly popular for marketing in a unique way. One-on-one jewelry consultations are incredibly popular among upper-income clients. For small independent jewelers, this shift provides the opportunity to provide a more consumer-focused, personalized service. Consumers want personalization in their shopping experience, and this can be a great way to achieve it.
A People-First Approach Remains The Best Route To Success
In a recent Edelman study, 72 percent of consumers said they would lose trust in a brand if they thought the brand was placing profit over people. The sentiment is not new; consumers in the retail industry have been increasingly vocal about their wishes to see businesses step up their efforts to make consumers feel safe when shopping in-store. For smaller, independent jewelers this point is particularly poignant.
In practice, this means jewelers will not only have to stick to Government-issued reopening guidelines, but also extend their efforts to the way they treat their employees during the pandemic and the lengths they are willing to go to protect customers willing to visiting instore. This may take the form of carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment before reopening, scheduling, and staggering customer consultations and visits, implementing floor markings and signage for directions, and switching to contactless payments or automatic doors to minimize surface contacts.
Finally, during the lockdown, an increasing amount of consumers have opted to support local businesses in a bid to help them survive. As more consumers look to support small local businesses like their community-based jewelers, jewelers can utilize this momentum to gather sales. Keeping your lines of communication open and customers updated with the help of signage, email marketing, and social media accounts will remain a crucial strategy in engaging with your local customers. Exploring collaboration and support of local causes like local community recovering initiatives will also show consumers that you are willing to support local as a business as well.
While the retail climate has changed post-COVID 19, there are ample opportunities for independent jewelers to adapt. By keeping their customers at the forefront, capitalizing on opportunities in the virtual space, and showcasing a common goal with the wider community, independent jewelry brands can not only survive the pandemic, but thrive after it.