This is a guest post by Sam Indelicato, Director of Culture at RDI Diamonds, focused on building new technology/marketing integrations to help usher in the next era of the business.
The pandemic has been a remarkable catalyst for igniting and accelerating the digital transformation of jewelers. Shutdowns and social distancing guidelines have restricted instore business, forcing jewelers to find new ways to reach and interact with their customers or risk losing business to those that are ahead in their digital presence.
While the industry had been slow to embrace the digital world—a few years ago, McKinsey predicted that online sales would account for just 10 percent of jewelry sales by 2020—no one could have anticipated industry disruptions and the current pandemic that dramatically changed the landscape and made digital transformation a critical business imperative.
Here are 5 effective ways jewelers can amp up their digital strategy:
1. Modernize Communication Channels
We depend on multiple communication channels in our daily lives, many preferring text or chat over waiting on snail mail, making a phone call or even sending an email. Customers buying jewelry need communication options, too. Those channels must be convenient and quick (even instant), as research shows that they accelerate conversion rates. Consider, for instance, a recent survey that found that texting a prospect after initial contact increases conversion rate an estimated 112 percent.
Managing multiple channels can be time consuming, but interaction management platforms can eliminate the juggle and enable companies to easily and efficiently leverage multiple methods to connect with their customers at critical touchpoints, such as when a potential buyer is visiting a jeweler’s site, inquired about an item or made a purchase. Minutes after a transaction is complete, a jeweler can automatically invite the customer to leave a review or ask for feedback. This invitation is sent via text or the messaging app of their choice. The integration helps jewelers improve their online footprint and become immediately available via messaging, and provides a frictionless experience through touchless interactions.
2. Leverage Teleconferencing Services to Connect
The pandemic has catapulted the use of video conferencing services into the mainstream, making them a regular part of interacting personally and professionally. Virtual meetups via teleconferencing services like Zoom and FaceTime make it possible for the jewelry industry to stay connected and to engage with customers. Many schedule regular meet-ups to encourage social interaction and connect with like-minded jewelers to share best practices and approaches for navigating the current crisis and embarking on digital transformations.
Video appointments with customers are just as effective, providing virtual opportunities to view products when in-store meetings are not possible or convenient. To maximize virtual showings and stand out from the competition, showcase unique pieces of jewelry, in addition to more classic options, and offer fast and affordable delivery options.
3. Master Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are a treasure trove for businesses, and jewelers are no exception. More than 90 percent of consumers look for customer reviews prior to visiting or using a business, and most trust the reviews just as much as they trust personal recommendations. In fact, 82 percent of consumers said the content of a review has convinced them to make a purchase.
There are multiple ways jewelers can entice customers to leave reviews, including offering incentives, making it easy for them, and asking quickly—ideally immediately following a purchase. Communication platforms simplify the processes and hit all the best practice check points, providing a dependable way for business owners to secure positive customer reviews to raise awareness, enhance their reputation, and spur new sales.
4. Harness and Depend on Data
Maintaining and managing inventory is a major expense for jewelers, but doing it right is critical to their success.
Technology can help here, too. Point of sales systems can collect and analyze data that is critical to making inventory decisions, including purchase history. It allows retailers to better understand demand and variances across geographies, and be better prepared for inventory needs. The data’s accuracy and reliability depend on staff routinely recording each and every transaction.
A Deloitte report on data analytics in the jewelry industry also points to other ways data can be game-changing for jewelers. In addition to inventory optimization, data provides insights on customer demographics and profiles, helps gauge and set pricing, tracks marketing performance, and leads to more accurate forecasting. It also provides insights into industry-wide trends, highlighting styles and stones that are selling and those that have fallen out of favor.
5. Take it Mobile
The National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS) found that participation in the on-demand economy, where goods and services can be purchased instantly, is growing at a rate of 58 percent with an expected 93 million people participating by 2022. More and more participants are leveraging mobile devices, including their smartphones, to make those purchases. Jewelry retailers need to ensure that their websites are responsive and mobile-friendly, providing, for instance, readable text, digestible content, easy search functions, and mobile payment options.
Mobile is also a powerful tool for in-store sales. Retailers who take advantage of sales applications made for kiosks or tablets have valuable sales tools and data at their ready, able to check and share photos of inventory, process online orders, collect customer information, and schedule appointments from the sales floor or anywhere.
Modernizing the Jewelry Industry
The jewelry business was long overdue for transformation. Modernizing with digital strategies like these will help retailers sustain business during these times of crisis and position themselves for a stronger future. By leveraging technology, they can attract customers, improve the customer experience, and bridge the gap between online and in-store retailing.