Here's a strategy for the retail jewelry store owner who'd like to completely embrace the way smartphone have transformed the way consumers shop when inside your four walls.
According to mobile research published by Google in 2011 and then recently confirmed by Javelin Strategy & Research (javelinstrategy.com) 59% of consumers are using a website to browse and buy products. Another study from Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies indicated that 70% of iPhone users were using their phone's web browser to help with in-store shopping.
After careful consideration of these trends and a realization of the powerful effect immediate information can have, Kmart and Sears will arm their sales associates with smartphones and tablets during the 2012 Holiday Season. Associates will be able to search inventory, get more product information, show demonstration videos, and suggest product up-sells.
Wouldn't it be great to have a similar system in your own jewelry store? You're probably thinking "Matthew, you're crazy. My store is 400 sq. ft. with only one employee at all times; we would just go to the computer." Even if you have a small store you can achieve a similar system to what large brands are starting to implement, and here's how...
First, recognize that the number one objective here is to provide an abundance of product information that will streamline the shopping experience and help make easier sales. With that in mind your task is to create a mobile website that has a plethora of information for your in-store product, photos, and above all, fast.
I suggest you work out a way for your inventory management software to talk to your website directly. For the best user experience you will want to keep your live inventory up to date at all times. Uploading inventory is only the first step, after that you need to populate your website with interesting product descriptions, clear photos, and you should even indicate related jewelry items.
As a consumer browses your website on their smartphone they will have access to all this information, but more importantly, so will your sales associate. Train each of your employees how to use the website on their personal smartphones, or you can get one or two tablets for your store. The tablet will free your associate from needing to run to the computer and it creates an immediate personalized experience anywhere in the store.
Most of the retail jewelers I work with have 2000 or more items in inventory. Even though the consumer is standing in the store, the mobile website can help the sales associate explain the details that they otherwise wouldn't know. Those details could be the story of the designer, the inspiration of that specific style, and related items from that same suite of jewelry or from that designer. With more than 2000 items it's difficult to remember all these details.
There will be an added "wow" factor from the consumer. They might not have realized how much information was on your website, and they will share that experience with their friends and family. There's also a huge search engine optimization benefit from having this information on your site. Your initial goal might have been to empower your sales associates with a new tool, but this will also increase phone calls and foot traffic... until your competitor realizes what you did and copies the idea.
This would take a lot of work; indeed, you would need to have higher quality photographs than those you use for inventory control. You also need someone to type in all the designer information and product stories. And then you need to connect your products together so the related items are easily seen.
Sears took the information they gained from 2011 holiday season and spent months coming up with a system. If you decided to implement this setup you will probably need a full time employee and at least 6 months to make it work correctly.