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2018…Done. Let’s Think About 2019!

by Ellen Fruchtman, President

It’s hard to imagine the holiday season is literally days away. And, according to the National Retail Federation, retail sales are expected to rise between 4.3% – 4.8%. So, good news all around. As much as you are laser-focused on the weeks in front of you, it’s time to think about 2019. Yes, 2019. It’s not enough to have a good holiday season. As a retailer, you have to think about the future; what the retail trends may be; and, what you need to do to remain on top, relevant, and quite frankly, what you need to do to keep your doors open. As we know all too well, consumers are fickle, and their expectations have to be met. Or, unfortunately, they’ll be shopping for fine jewelry at a store that delivers what they want.  

So, what do consumers want? They want convenience, price and value, and relevant, quality products. In that regard, not much has changed. Consumers, after all, are just creatures of habit. They are also you and me. The most successful retailers today are delivering personal shopping experiences both in-store and online. Their websites are easy to navigate and are optimized for a great mobile experience. According to a recent Holiday, 2018 Survey by Deloitte, 72% will be using their mobile devices to shop and browse online, 71% will be using mobile to compare prices; 68% will make a purchase on their mobile; 67% will use their mobile to find a location; 64% will read reviews, and 60% will be checking your website on mobile for availability of product.

I’m not sure how many more times you can read an article, listen to a webinar, or participate in a conference that tells you the same thing: There’s nothing more important than your online presence. It’s where the bulk of all shopping begins. So, if you can only invest in one thing (and, I hope that’s not the case) in 2019, it’s to invest in your online marketing endeavors.

What to think about for 2019.

YouTube™. YouTube first jumped on the scene in February, 2005. In, October, 2006, Google purchased it for $165 billion! Not a bad ROI. The first advertising on this channel came into play in 2007. And now, YouTube reaches more 18-49-year-olds than any other broadcast or Cable TV network. That’s a staggering statistic. If you are marketing bridal and ignoring this medium, you’re making a big mistake. 2019 is the year to be looking at the best ways to market on this platform.

BOPIS. Buy online, purchase in-store is growing exponentially. Again, this is all providing convenience to your shopper. And, for fine jewelry, this couldn’t be more important. We want our customers to come to our stores. We want them to see, touch, and try on the jewelry in person. We want to impart our education and we want to form relationships. But, our customers are shopping and browsing online. As a retail jeweler, you need to deploy new strategies for this pick-up trend. Your online gallery should offer the option and include a statement like “free in-store pickup”. You might want to consider offering an incentive for the customer to shop this way, such as a gift card to use toward their next online pick up in store purchase. And, of course, for anyone choosing to actually purchase online, you must have a free shipping and easy return policy front and center.

Personalization. We all know the custom category is king. Consumers are looking for something uniquely them. But, let’s not forget using the basics of personalization. Tracking customer purchases and delivering personal messages is where it’s at in retail. That means, good old-fashioned clienteling and copious notes for each customer captured in your POS system. Segmenting email lists can take a little time, but open rates and response will definitely increase if you customize messages. The same will be true for direct mail. Make it your mission in 2019 (early 2019) to do a deep dive into your customer data. And, if you don’t have great information, make it a priority.

Loyalty programs. Beyond tremendous service, consumers are looking for price and value. That’s why programs are more important than ever. Customers are looking for rewards for their brand loyalty, plain and simple. Let’s face it; consumers have more options than ever before. And, if always discounting is not your thing (and, it shouldn’t be), loyalty programs provide a way to stay above the discount fray. You’ll find larger retailers offering experiences beyond their own stores. For example, Sephora offers its most loyal members access and trips to Fashion Week. Macy’s platinum tier receives special offerings to cooking classes with famous chefs and VIP tickets to the Thanksgiving Parade in NYC. So, think beyond dollars off your next visit. And, some local vendors in your own community who may want to participate.

Beyond 2019. Keep your eye on this…

It’s hard to imagine we’re all still talking about having a good website. Because the next big trend in retail is Augmented Reality (AR), which allows shoppers to visualize a product in the convenience (there’s that word again) of their own home. We know people prefer to touch and feel expensive products prior to purchasing. Wayfair, a successful online furnishing company, has developed an AR app that places fully rendered 3D furniture in their customer’s room, allowing them to truly get an idea of how this furniture will look (and feel). Crazy, right? Granted, perfecting and implementing this technology is quite expensive, and the percentage of people engaging in this tech is still in the low double digits. But, we’re talking about “trends”, and before you know it, AR will go from trend to norm.

It appears 2018 should be ending up on a high note. But, 2019 is literally weeks away. Start thinking about what can be and what should be. 2018 will hopefully be great. But, 2019 can be even better!

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