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You Can Lead a Jeweler to Water

by
It's July 26, 2011 and I'm thinking the jewelry industry needs to be shaken up. Either a shake up or a wake up, but I'm not exactly sure how to accomplish either.

I've spent eight progressive years working with jewelry stores and jewelry manufacturers and developing online marketing for jewelers and general jewelry websites. I'd like to explain what I see about the industry and why I think it's being held back from technological progress when so many other industries have already taken 1000 steps forward almost overnight.

The first problem I see is the general lack of technology interest that retail store owners have. I know many jewelry retailers that are still using simple cash registers while maintaining their inventory by hand. Others use point of sale software, but many use it ineffectively without understanding the business reporting that comes with the software. Very few understand the time savings they could enjoy if they tied their POS to their website, that is if they had product photography and descriptions in their POS to begin with.

The October 2010 Instore Magazine Big Survey results reported that 60% of jewelry store owners are over the age of 51. When I read that statistic, I couldn't help but wonder if there is a correlation between older ages and unwillingness to adopt new in-store technology, new marketing ideas and the internet in general.

Another interesting statistic from the Big Survey is that 68% of store jewelry store owners work more than 46 hours a week. Could it be the combination of the older age and lack of time away from the bench or counter that makes the average jeweler disinterested in new technology?

I find it amazing that my office still gets calls every day from jewelry stores that still don't have websites. On the other hand, we get a lot of calls from jewelers that tried putting up websites in 1999 and 2000, but shut them down soon after. They spent a lot of money on it back then and the "overnight success" their web programmer promised them went unrealized.

There was another surge in jewelry website creating in 2003 and 2004, but these were static websites that were let to wither online without updates to product, their new logo, or even the store hours they adopted 5 years ago. Again, my office gets these calls all the time.

I find it interesting that the surge of jewelry websites that were attempted in 1999 and 2000 also correspond to the dot-com bubble. After interest rates rose and the stock market corrected itself, many internet-only businesses disappeared and the economy fell into a recession. In 2003, we started to come out of that recession and jewelers once again looked at technology.

Unfortunately, technology is changing rapidly and the jewelry industry is behind. Way behind. Too behind.

Right now the pizza joint down the street is taking orders from a mobile website for an extra-large, extra-cheese and pepperoni pizza to be delivered. I'm talking about a dinky mom and pop pizza place that somehow found a simple online way to sell and take orders from the neighborhood. They figured out how to do this in the last 12 months and if they could do that, why can't the average retail jeweler have a customer interactive website of some type?

Until recently, I believed that the independent retailer was solely to blame for their technological ineptitude.

But I realize now that I was wrong.

In general, it's the entire industry that is behind. The retailers look to their vendors and trade organizations for guidance; except many of the popular trade organizations are out of date (as of today) and many well known established vendors are also set in their ways without tapping into new web technology.

I did a quick web search for jewelry trade organizations and found several that were newer, but also found these 9 organizations with older websites. Because of the rapid advancements in web and mobile technology, any website created prior to 2009 has an easily recognized outdated style to it, which is not something that should portray in the jewelry industry. I've listed the trade organizations and the last change date as indicated on archive.org.
  • American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), September 2007 (4.75 years ago)
  • California Institute of Jewelry Training (IJT), August 2003 (almost 8 years ago)
  • Connecticut Jewelers Association (CTJ), July 2007 (4 years)
  • Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO), April 2003 (more than 8 years ago)
  • Iowa Jewelers Association (IJA), October 2007 (3.75 years ago)
  • Jewelers Board of Trade (JBT), June 2007 (4 years)
  • Jewelers Mutual, November 2007 (3.75 years ago)
  • Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), October 2006 (4.75 years ago)
  • Retail Jewelers Organization (RJO), January 2007 (3.5 years ago)

There are plenty of other trade organizations that should be in this list, I just limited it to 9. I do have to give accolades specifically to GIA and AGS for keeping their website designs and features updated every 18 months or so. The Continental Buying Group (CBG) almost made this list for having a 2002 website, but they upgraded it earlier this year.

A moment ago I mentioned that my office get calls from jewelry stores all the time. What's interesting is that we often have someone referencing one of the above named sites as "a good example of what they like," meanwhile everyone here is well aware that the style and function is outdated. It's unfortunate to say but those jewelers are being misled by the online presentation of the trade associations they trust.

Let me talk a little now about the attitude of many well established vendors. My inspiration for this article started this afternoon as I walked the buying room floor for the NYC JA show. I spoke to many well established jewelry vendors today. I was on a mission to find vendors I that freely provide jewelry photography, product descriptions and marketing support.

Specifically, I wanted to find the vendors that provide this marketing support without hassle and in the format that the retailer requests. Except (again as of today) many vendors don't have an established photo library or even written descriptions of their items.

The vendors that do have websites usually allow their retailers to download images somehow. Sometimes the websites are freely open to anyone who wants to look (consumers included) and sometimes a login is required. The problem with website downloads is that the retailer has to save every image 1 at a time.

That process is sickeningly time-consuming on DSL and cable connections. On dial up (yes this is still used) this process is impossible. If 68% of retailers already work 45 or more hours a week there is no way they will want to spend an evening downloading 1 image at a time from the vendor's website.

Other vendors have policies which block retailers from advertising products online. Some say this is to provide territory protection, some say it's to protect them from infringement of jewelry designs. Whatever the reasoning, this is contrary to the transparent exchange of information which is common on the internet today.

In this article I've tried to explain my new feeling as to why the jewelry industry is so far behind the times. It's not just the retailer's fault. If the associations do not lead, the retailers are not going to take the initiative. I don't think the vendors will change their ways unless the retailers demand easier product images and information support.

I strongly suggest that every forward-thinking jewelry retailer take the internet steps forward without waiting for their favorite trade association. I also don't want the retailer to do anything that adds more work to their busy 46+ hour work week, so I suggest they migrate all their purchases to vendors that have easy to use internet marketing assistance. If enough retailers demand it, the vendors will respond.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, let me know.
AT: 07/26/2011 11:22:08 PM   LINK TO THIS ENTRY

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20 Comments on You Can Lead a Jeweler to Water

Jim Ackerman said...
Intriguing piece. But I think there is a fundamental difference between jewelry and pizza. Jewelry is an experience. There is meaning to it. Just heard a story of a guy who bought an engagement ring from a friend at half the price his friend paid for it. His soon to be father-in-law thought he was brilliant. His fiance was pissed. I know a lot of jewelers who have tried to make the online thing work. Only one who has succeeded in a big way. I teach jewelers how to market, and while I acknowledge there is value in everything you've said, I tell them to focus on the analog world in marketing their enterprise. They'll get a lot more bang for the buck, both short term and long. My clients have gotten up to 40% response rates to good ol' fashion direct mail. Double-digit responses are common. Email isn't doing that. And buying from a website is okay for commodity products, but if you fancy yourself and your wares as something special, the online thing doesn't work... YET. Not to say it can't or won't, but I can't blame jewelers for knowing who they are and what they're about and playing to their strengths.
Jim Ackerman
mail@ascendmarketing.com
www.marketingspeakerjimackerman.com
08/05/2011 at 16:05:31
Kevin Carpenter said...
This is a great article. I have been in the business for over 35 years and have seen the resistance from jewelers to "join the real world" of marketing. I guess I have never tried to figure out why this is so, but I think Matt hit the nail on the head. The current generation of jewelry buyers do not think the same as the last ones, so we jewelers need to change with the times, or die on the vine.
Kevin Carpenter
08/29/2011 at 09:13:11
Dan Kisch said...
Hey Matthew - Interesting article and thanks for quoting INSTORE. I think the age stat is not the key problem. Bil Gates is 55, Steve Jobs is 56 and, without giving away all my secrets, I am north of both of them. We have a global, cloud-based business and are pretty close to cutting edge in most of what we do, much of which I have either initiated or agreed to. So I need to defend the elderly here.

The real problem lies in the second stat - time. Most independent retailers have to deal with opening the store, filling the showcases, seeing customers, training staff, dealing with finance, real estate, inventory, purchasing, marketing, advertising, washing the windows, emptying the showcases, closing the store. Then they have some time to sit at the computer. So it's really hard to take the time to add on new tasks.

That being said, a surprisingly large number DO have websites, Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts and do at least a portion of their purchasing on-line. I think if you did an analysis of all INDEPENDENT retailers in all categories, you'd find jewelers ahead of the curve in many ways, especially if you look at high-end discretionary consumer products.

You can't compare an independent jeweler to the corner pizza joint either. I would think the average person buys pizza 20 times a year, and usually from the same place. Pizza places have, pretty much, one SKU. You can get some customization in there but it's just pizza. Not quite the same as a jewelry store. And the pizza joint has TONS of walk in traffic (or they'd be out of business). The jewelry business doesn't work that way even for the most tech-savvy retailers because people don't buy jewelry like they buy pizza.

So, at the core, I agree that there are many ways that retailers can improve their approach to their businesses. The hard part is finding the time.
Dan Kisch
08/29/2011 at 09:15:35
Marc Knobloch said...
Both Dan and Matthew make a great point regarding the lack of time. Matthew also says "...you make time for what you want to make time for." That is true. I do think that what is holding back some Jewelers from "tech, etc." is fear paired with the belief that if they do those things that have brought them success in the past, they will be fine. I strongly disagree with that way of thinking. That is one reason why I am here.
Marc Knobloch
08/29/2011 at 09:17:03
Tony Argyle said...
It's human nature to go with what and where you feel comfortable. Picture a jeweler standing out the back of his store - on his To Do list is "Get quote for website design". In front of him is a watch battery job sitting to be done. Unfortunately many go with option 2, not because they have to, but it's where they feel best and it's a habit they're used to. They know they should do option 1 but they don't understand how or why. I think you've summed it up pretty well Matthew - getting over that mental barrier is the real hurdle, many are getting there slowly but for some the realization may all come a little too late. Groups have to take responsibility here also. I've had discussions on technology with the head of an overseas jewelry group and had the response "I don't think our members would be interested in selling their product online". What example is this for the membership?
Tony Argyle
08/29/2011 at 09:17:30
Dan Kisch said...
I'm a bit amused by the comment that 3/4 of the people attending Jay's seminar don't have websites and the conclusion is that means they are going our of business. Please note- they are still in business in spite of the fact that they don't have websites. How could that possibly be??? Perhaps it has something to do with the over emphasis on tech as a primary driver of our business. It's actually possible that one can survive, even thrive by being a quality jeweler with great product and customer service, beautiful, varied product and an inspired sales team and, OHMYGOODNESS, no web presence.

I am a big believer in economic Darwinism. Weak models cease to exist and are overtaken by stronger ones. If being on-line is the only way for a business to survive, then those who move on-line effectively will stick around and those that don't won't. Newer companies will follow the lead of those that are successful. However, so far, there is little proof that keeping your jewelry store in the analog world will put you out of business or even slow you down.

Don't get me wrong, I am a big believer in great web sites, e-commerce, social networking, etc. They are nice additions to the marketing mix. INSTORE and INDESIGN are still the only jewelry industry trade magazines with an iPad/iPhone app. But I think way too much time is spent cringing that the sky is falling when, in fact, there are more jewelry stores in business today than there were two years ago (see JBT figures on total jewelry retailers).

Oh, and I think the reason most 6 year-olds become tech savvy is so they can communicate with their Grandparents.
Dan Kisch
08/29/2011 at 09:18:04
Terry O'Malley said...
Well you are absolutely correct but whose is going to guide them; Big Box retailers are organically grooming the next generation of buyers, The gold metal fashion launched in the middle 70’s doesn’t exist, as well as the leadership that went into bringing these types of trends into our market.
Not to forget that the last decade of tactical and economic crises has all but crippled the middle class and increased the size of the lower end markets. Look, to invest in new technology, advertising, social media incorporation, bells and whistles of all shapes and sizes takes capital, it takes a trend to motivate the consumer who organically motivated the resellers and on down to the line to the product(s) to be delivered. After four decades and being on the leading edge of every one of the metal trends, I am completely taken back how such a vibrant and profitable Industry has diminished both in usality and growth. Sure there is a market, yes it has consolidated but think of this, all the majority wholesalers from the 70’s to now are gone, except of course Stuller: It wasn’t all due to marketing or best practices.
Terry O'Malley
08/29/2011 at 09:18:37
Deborah e. Hecht, G.G. said...
In my mind I am having this same conversation. I spent 21 years as an independent sales rep and (at 50) realized that we must jump on technology for a new stream of income. Why is the jewelry industry having such a difficult time adding smart technology to their business?
I agree with Dan...it isn't about age. It’s about time and fear. Fear of being able to learn something new.
We as a long standing industry have been doing things one way forever (like the hamster on his wheel.) But, we are a creative industry, and I am surprised at the lack of enthusiasm for creating and embracing new methods. How can you do that? Analyze what doesn't generate dollars and get rid of it. Make room and time to learn the new ways to sell.
I attended a webinar last week from Awareness.com. They had some daunting stats… 93% of all consumers DEMAND that a company has a FB, Twitter or LinkedIn presence on the internet. 85% EXPECT that company to INTERACT with them on the internet. And 81% conduct research and ask advice over the internet. It was not talking about pizza alone. These numbers are just going to grow!
Retailers, are you the expert they are speaking to and buying from on the internet? You should be! Did you hear that Blue Nile wrote over $330M last year? They were up by 10% from 2009. (Were you?) Aren’t those customers your customers??? Well it looks like you can buy jewelry without touching it doesn’t it? Technology doesn't have to replace your brick and mortar; it's just in addition to your store. We need the retailers to step up and show the consumer that they will serve them where ever they are AND that they will work with wholesalers for buying as well… even if it’s over the computer. The entire flow of our industry depends on it!
Here's my thought... if we don't add technology into our business models NOW, our ability to stay the expert and serve the consumer will soon disappear! I don’t just talk the talk. I walk the walk (even at 56!) Deborah e. Hecht, g.g., V-By Technology, www.v-by.com
Deborah e. Hecht, G.G.
08/29/2011 at 09:19:33
Lori Wildrick said...
This is a very interesting and relevant discussion. I will add here that I agree with Dan and Deborah on their points, but will add a couple of my own. As a marketing consultant, this is a daily discussion. Blue Nile (as Deborah pointed out) was a business model that many scoffed at when it debuted. Who would buy jewelry online? The answer was: a lot. Then they debuted their phone app. Who would buy jewelry from their phone? Many. But does that mean every independent jeweler should chase after the newest technologies? Perhaps so, perhaps not. It's critical for each indepedent jeweler to look at their target audience and evaluate their best course of action. Who are they specifically targeting and how can they best reach them with the wisest marketing investment?

For example, Ritani is doing an excellent job with engaging its customer base through its Facebook contests. The contests are actually a bit involved for the customer, requiring a lot of effort, and I wondered if i would see a drop-off in interest, but just the opposite. Each day's contest entry somehow either drives eyeballs to the Ritani line or it encourages interaction between the brand and consumers. It's quite well done.

Another Seattle retailer has done quite well with their Facebook and Twitter with their Great Race, which encourages customers to participate in the hunt for an engagement ring. And the contest even drives media coverage, making it well worth the investment.

I'm seeing a lot of jewelers on Facebook, but even more on Twitter. Knowing how to use these channels to their best result is key--and the good news with the social channels is that there is a very low barrier to entry; you can give them a try without a signficant investment. Just, as has been pointed out prior, align expectations appropriately. Websites can be a pricey investment, but can extend your reach if you're willing and able to invest time and effort. Blogs can enable you to share your expertise, and they are unbelievably easy to use.

It is true that the way consumer shop is evolving. I see many early adopters in the jewelry industry. And more will give it a try as they see the trends. For example, last year, I rarely saw QR codes in any jewelry advertising. At JCK, I saw much more. Next year, I anticipate I'll see even more.
Lori Wildrick
08/29/2011 at 09:20:08
Dan Kisch said...
Well said, Lori. You did a great job of refining a broad discussion to specific action points. There is validity to every course of action depending on market analysis and execution. The key to successful business does not lie in grabbing on to "the next big thing". It's all about understanding your current customer and the customer you want to have and meeting them in the marketplace, wherever that may be.
Dan Kisch
08/29/2011 at 09:20:34
Matthew Perosi said...
@ an Kisch
I think you misread my report from Jay's seminar, and perhaps the convictions of your post reflect it. I reported that about 3/4 of the audience said they had websites. That leaves 1/4 without. I then went on to say that I do not want to see the loss of 1/4 of the industry because they didn't embrace technology.

Although my focus is always on websites (because I create them and research the jewelry industry in that area), a website is not just for advertising. The idea of "cloud" computing is that you can use the internet based technologies to make your life easier without the IT worries. Some may argue that new technology makes things more difficult, and indeed I have been frustrated by advancements in technology that actually slow me down.

Maybe we should consider for a moment what things a jeweler could do with technology that would lower their 46+ hour work week. No one can forever sustain such schedules if they also have a family or expect to do anything other than work or sleep.

You said that there was "little proof that keeping a store in the analog world will put you out of business or even slow you down." Unfortunately Dan, I agree with you, but not for the reasons you would like. Running an "analog" (by definition a paper only) business causes you to work more, and you can't afford to slow down simply because you spend all your time managing your business. In fact the MSNBC TV show "Your Business" episode that aired on July 31, 2011 did a segment about businesses pushing paper and how limiting it is on marketing, customer communication and business growth.

I'm sure the seminar audience at the JA show had a high margin of error if compared to the entire industry. I don't really have any actual idea of the number of stores with websites. Can you add that to your Big Survey question list for this year? I just used the seminar as my basis for thought since it was that seminar that originally sparked my article ( http://bit.ly/nclYMH ).

I'm sure the growth of more jewelry stores opening today are all embracing technology from the start. This is the next generation of tech savvy jewelers that see an opportunity to capitalize in a market of tech-savvy buyers that search for tech-savvy jewelry stores.

A jeweler needs to educate the young buyer in the jewelry language of the 4C's, gemstones, pearls and metals and any other industry lexicon that will help make the sale. The tech-savvy buyer may not want to stand in the jewelry store for hours learning in person. Instead they want to use the internet to learn, and for that the jeweler need to learn the language of the internet.
Matthew Perosi
08/29/2011 at 09:21:10
Matthew Perosi said...
@Terry O'Malley
You can't compare fashion trends to worldwide changes that have created new global economies. I submit that the last time the human race was hit by such a world changing technology was 1890 - 1912 when the radio was first invented.

Terry, in my original article I compared the local pizza joint to a jewelry store. I did this to illustrate that a pizza joint does not have large sums of money to spend on website development yet they are taking orders from people using cell phones. Services exist that the retailer can tap in to at a fraction of the cost to developing their own websites. There is no longer a need for the retailer to invest $40,000 or even $12,000 in the startup costs of a website, only to have it outdated and needing replacing in less than a year. Software as a service (SaaS) is available now from many website companies and even from jewelry vendors, sometimes the cost is a portion of your sales, and sometimes there is a flat monthly fee.

Truthfully, a jewelry store could utilize more than a dozen different free services and have an amazing customer communication and interaction platform. Throw in Google's free services and e-commerce platforms and the sky is the limit. The only drawback is that they would have to invest their personal time into it.

As for the reasons why the majority of wholesalers from the 70's are now gone, I'm sure each had a unique reason. There have been a few recessions since the 70's, and several levels of technology advances. If I've learned anything from previous work as a stock broker working on IPOs and my own entrepreneurship since 1994 it's that large businesses usually have large investments into "their machine" whereas smaller businesses can survive by making overnight changes in their business strategies.

@Deborah e. Hacht
Thank you for providing those statistics. This corresponds exactly to what I was saying to @Dan Kisch above about the jewelry industry needing to educate the consumer, yet the consumer is expecting to find the answer online somewhere.

If 93% of consumers demand a Facebook account what I see is that the next generation of jewelers (aptly this thread is on the Gen-Next Jewelers LinkedIn group) are diving into the deep end of the technology pool where there are few others swimming. The tech-savvy consumer swims on in and the few jewelers they meet are the business winners.

The next-gen jeweler do not have the years of experience and the technical understanding that the older generation has; yet they will be the ones to get the bridal customers simple because they are there, they are visible online.
Matthew Perosi
08/29/2011 at 09:21:46
Matthew Perosi said...
@Lori Wildrick
Thank you for putting some fine points on what I started out as a very wide thread. Initially I didn't want to cite data or statistics because my observations have spanned since 2003 until now and my opinion was about to explode.

Much of my point of view comes from "putting myself in the real world" to study human behavior. I've spend the last 2 years traveling between the USA and Europe to study various town, cities and cultures in an effort to observe and predict how technology might be "useful" for retail jewelers; specifically "mobile" and how to get the customers either offline, or off their cell phones and into the jewelry store.

Will mobile commerce become an everyday reality? It is already. Can those cell phone apps actually work? Yes, absolutely. But should the retail jeweler spend the time to develop a cell phone app? No, not yet because the technology is too expensive to develop especially when you can't reach 100% of the mobile population. Right now the solution for the retailer should be the mobile website which will work on 100% of the smartphones out there.

Facebook contests are a wonderful idea, but the jeweler needs to spend the initial time cultivating their Facebook audience. Using contests to build your initial Facebook audience is tricky and unless the contest is connected with a real-world local aspect often times the jeweler will attract nationwide contest junkies. I loved reading about the Great Race you mentioned in Seattle. This is exactly the correct strategy as long as you already have a good size following on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook, Twitter and blogs are perfect examples of my original statement that the jewelry retailer needs to learn to use technology. They are free except for the time involved.

I don't think we can look at websites as an investment any more. An investment implies a long term commitment when in fact I see any online presence (website, Twitter, Facebook, et.al.) as a business tool that needs to be flexible and disposable when they do not work. Use whatever tools you can find as long as you can take your customer data with you when you decide to switch services.

Lori I have to thank you for bringing up the QR codes. I've been studying them in France for the last 2 years because they are way ahead of the USA. I'm going to give you, and whoever else is reading, a sneak peek at a project that I'm launching soon. To reuse @Deborah's euphemism again "I don't just talk the talk. I walk the walk." And every direction my company moves is to improve the jewelry industry's use and understanding of technology but at a lower cost of ownership. This project grew from my mobile research on two continents in an attempt to provide the jewelry industry with something that was either low cost or no cost as well as easy to maintain. This link is a QR code from Google apps: http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?chs=300x300&cht=qr&chld=|0&chl=http%3A%2F%2Fctqr.us%2F2
Assuming LinkedIn allows you to click that please give it a try. If you don't have a QR code scanner on your phone or if that link doesn't click then just point your smartphone browser to http://ctqr.us/2
Matthew Perosi
08/29/2011 at 09:22:28
Lori Wildrick said...
hmmm. That's interesting. If I interpret your comment correctly, you are seeking ways to "get customers offline or off their cel phones and into the jewelry stores." So in other words, you want to change consumer behavior? I would propose that it might be easier for jewelers to go to where consumers want to engage in a conversation: and one of those places, right now, is in the growing mobile and online communities. That's not to say they won't and don't visit brick and mortar businesses. However, click and mortar is a smart, and easy, variant for instant audience expansion.

Let me give you a quick example. I recently worked on a project with Bing for their new social search feature. In other words, if you login to Facebook on Bing, you willl see your Facebook friends "likes" as you search. So, say you're looking for an event-based piece of jewelry (anniversary, engagement, etc) and you are searching online. Depending on your search query, your search may pull up a variety of jeweler's websites, but it also may display the names of your friends who "like" a particular jeweler. Well, if your friend "likes" a specific jeweler, there's a good chance they had a good experience with them, which means that the person conducting the search will go further and check out that jeweler's website or facebook wall. I just tried two queries "wedding bands" and "engagement rings" and found two friends, one of whom liked weddingbands.com and one who likes verragio. I can send you a snip to show you what I mean.

This exposure is available for any jewelers who have a website or a Facebook page. And creating a Facebook page is not difficult or time-consuming.

As to consumer education, you'd be surprised at the volumes of information readily available through a search. The GIA has fantastic information and many jeweler websites, including Blue Nile, have an educational component. The generations who are now looking for engagement rings grew up on the internet and know how to find the information that they want or need.

Mobile apps are not inexensive, but may be effective depending on the size of the jeweler and their business model. Blue Nile has used them to great effect, as have the designer clearers Haute Look and Gilt, which just today was selling fine jewelry by Bepalal Keshavlal, the most expensive piece of which was $6k+.

I was not able to make your link work, and my smartphone did not recognize that QR link, so my apologies on that. Not sure what you were pointing out.
Lori Wildrick
08/29/2011 at 09:23:05
Marc Knobloch said...
Matthew, very good points! It used to be that the task was to educate the
customer. I agree that great headway and advantage is awarded to those
suppliers who reach the customers through tech first. Then, they can
resume their traditional responsibilities of educating their newly acquired
customer. The extra bonus for the supplier is their place in the
customer's mind as a tech-savvy supplier who they will return to and buy
from again.
Matthew, you are correct about the response of 3/4 of the seminar attendees
having websites. I was also in the audience. A site these days is no
longer a luxury but, it is a necessity that I bet the remaining 1/4 is
currently working on.
If a store does not have some sort of online presence, website, social
media or otherwise, then the tech savvy customer can't be expected to be
attracted to a company they don't know exists.
Marc Knobloch
08/29/2011 at 09:23:56
Terry O'Malley said...
Well your right, the access to inexpensive apps and tools for expanding your media penetration and coverage, with the popularity of “open source” programming and overnight Website creation and activation for $9.99, couldn’t have made it easier to access your customer potential; it is as cheap as it has ever been.
But “you can lead the jeweler to the access button but you still can’t make them push it”.
I have to disagree with your statement , “The next-gen jeweler do not have the years of experience and the technical understanding that the older generation has;” The Y and Z generation were born with access and learning in electronic technology. My generation had to learn and except the fact the Paper and Pen where no longer the norm, as were the communication advances such as, the Telex, the fax machine, email and now email/texting. With Audio control like, Dragon, you won’t even need to use your fingers.
Remember the majority of the Jewelry Industry is made up of Independent, Mom and Pops; the independent says it all.
Terry O'Malley
08/29/2011 at 09:24:54
Hilary Halstead Scott said...
Great discussion! I would also add that HAVING a website is a poor indicator of a company's technological know-how even if it is up to date. Many of our jeweler clients spend a lot of time & money to create a website and then are shocked that internet traffic does not materialize just from its sheer existence.

Websites are only successful as facets of complete marketing plans that include other media and initiatives to draw traffic to the site. Indeed, it is a time-consuming proposition for business owners who are stretched across many functions. There is no quick and easy solution.

That being said, I agree that internet presence is expected of businesses now. A good looking, functional site legitimizes a company in the way that business cards and letterhead did in times gone by. A site is a bare minimum nowadays. Getting it to reach the pinnacle of performance is a challenge that requires constant dedication and innovation.
Hilary Halstead Scott
08/29/2011 at 09:25:27
Terry O'Malley said...
Let me chime in here; we are developing a lot of good feedback and data, I really am impressed. In assembling some notes the issue of security has not been addressed entailing the identities of those supplying product and the consumer looking for merchandise. We operate in a very high risk industry so using all these social media tools have to have an element privatizum built into it. I never use a picture that the can identify who I am because the thief also uses all this social media; it is a thought we all have to keep in mind.
Terry O'Malley
08/29/2011 at 09:27:59
Marc Knobloch said...
I think that retailers are a little wary of new tech as well as strapped
for time. Traditionally, many (not all) diamond and jewelry businesses
have operated via the "follow the leader" and/or "wait and see" models. To
survive and thrive, they have no choice but to step out of the comfort zone
of tradition and business as usual. It is imperative that they find the
time to do so.
Marc Knobloch
08/29/2011 at 09:28:29
Greg Stopka said...
Good day all,
I have been monitoring this thread and I have to say that there is lots of nuggets of info to be digested and utilized. I for one have Deb's V-By program and I am enjoying it a lot. The exciting concept is the ability to showcase, teach, demonstrate, create and sell with someone that is on the other end of the monitor. I have two virtual studios that create, present and sell repair and design everyday with the power of the computer. We have absolutely NO INVENTORY! We are doing well and will be celebrating our 26 year as a virtual company.

I know that many of us are looking at how the web and technology will lead us into the future. I am taking more of a realistic approach to all of it. Building a business is like aging... it takes time to get old. The so called game changing ideas that we are seeing regarding social media does not have a long standing track record. Look at the tech bust in early 2000. Web companys were trading at 100 to 150 multiples and then came the crash. Amazon took years and years to become a lasting company and lost money for a very long time. It is just recently that Amazon has shown a profit. I say, stay close, learn and adjust.
Greg Stopka
08/29/2011 at 09:29:20
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