Become your customer’s expert
With the recession still biting, people shopping for anything ‘luxury’ want to rely more and more on one person for one thing. They want a specialist, an expert they can call on for advice on that topic or help with a purchase.
The opposite of that would be the person who shops for price and uses the internet find a product at the cheapest price. Now they are a customer for some retailers, but anyone concerned with selling anything that is beyond the value of the sum of its parts they are not our ideal customer. If you are selling cheap Hong Kong or Chinese jewellery, or anything else in that style for that matter, good luck to you. If however you are building a relationship with your customers, either as an artisan, or someone who understands how to put well chosen collections together, as a ‘curator’, you will want your customers to understand your values.
As a designer maker, the artisan, you will build a very special relationship with customers who ‘get’ what you do and are loyal to you and your work. In the case of the retail jeweller the aim should be to service all your customer’s jewellery needs with the same passion that a creative puts into their work if you want to generate the same connection with your customers.
Today more than ever passion should be something that moves us to make our businesses snap to attention. Sloppy or uncaring service will not be tolerated in the new economy. So how do we bring passion into our business.
You need to demonstrate a connection with your customer, a connection with your suppliers and a connection your business.
Let’s take the last point first. I have been into many jewellery retailers and gallery stores, where you just get the feeling that the owner is in business and has a nice enough shop, but there’s no passion. You walk in and maybe someone says hello, maybe they don’t, you ask about something and you just get the bare minimum back. The whole shopping experience is very bland.
You need to get a complete understanding of the products you stock and the people that make them. Find out the ‘storey’ behind each collection and the people that go in to making them. Communicate that to your staff so they can convey that over to the customer. Feed back to your suppliers and develop a working relationship with them. Make the supplier understand that it is in their interest to service you well with a collection that works. Let them help you fine tune the collection so you can exchange something if it is not working. As long as you’re making it worth their while there’s no reason why they wouldn’t.
Finally connect with your customer. Develop a relationship that you want to last many years not just one purchase. It’s all too easy to be short sighted, especially when times are tough, but you need to treat each sale as a lead up to the next sale. If your customers get what you do and identify with your passion for the things you have to offer, you won’t be selling to them, they’ll be buying from you. There lies the critical difference.