Their loss. Our gain.
by Ellen Fruchtman, President
Many major retailers are struggling to stay afloat. And if you care to read an updated list of who’s exiting the landscape or looking at serious reorganization, feel free to look at the running list updated frequently on Retail Dive at https://www.retaildive.com/news/the-running-list-of-2020-retail-bankruptcies/571159/
It’s sobering. And certainly, unhealthy business practices are equally to blame versus laying total blame on Covid-19. Where there are gray skies there’s bound to be a silver lining. And fortunately, independent retail jewelers can actually reap the reward. The wind is blowing in our direction. So, harness it as we enter the most important time of year. Believe it or not, this actually can be one of the best holiday seasons ever. Enter with caution. Plan with care. And remember humility and sensitivity in all of your marketing endeavors.
This article will appear on September 15. All of your Q4 ideas and plans should be put to bed. We just completed an extensive presentation of fleshed-out ideas to our clients prior to Labor Day. Don’t play it by ear. And do not wait. After all, careful planning will play an instrumental role in your success. It always does. But, this year, it’s more important than ever.
What to do. What to do.
Q4 starts in a few short weeks. Technically, October 1. Think of October as the beginning of the selling season and start getting your name out there. Budgets should start increasing. People are home and doing a lot of “shopping” and surfing online. Where jewelry was formerly a purchase made after December 10 or so, this year it is stacking up to be different. Be prepared for the cycle to start early. People are in the market for bridal every day. And we know the bridal cycle is 3-4 months. Fall through the holiday season is a big time for bridal. Do you have a plan in place for that? October is also the time to start pushing custom design if that’s a decent part of your business.
Stay away from politics. At any cost. No yard signs. No messages on your personal social pages. Have that conversation with your staff as well. Many might be “friends” with some customers. It’s alienating and extremely volatile. There used to be two subjects (even among friends) we knew enough to not discuss: Religion and Politics. Social media sadly put an end to all of that. All it takes is one person who is opposed to your views to send a message that goes viral. Really…is it worth it?
Mall stores are going to suffer. Where you may have not marketed to that specific buyer in the past, consider how you can market to them this holiday season. New customer acquisition can be big for you this year. Market some price-points in your digital marketing for bridal. Include some lower price points in your fashion marketing as well. Communicate that you are approachable, reasonable, affordable. Make sure all services from curbside to your instore safety are also in your messages. Your older customers may be reticent to come through the door. Video chat with them. Offer delivery for those you know might prefer that. This is a time to be as concierge as you can be.
This year it’s more important than ever to be mindful in your advertising. What does that mean? You need to pay attention to your messaging. We don’t recommend dwelling on Covid. However, we also don’t recommend making believe it’s a normal holiday season. It isn’t. We always witness marketing that pulls at your heartstrings during this time of year. And, if there was ever a product that can and should have an emotional connection, it’s jewelry. Work with your creative team to develop something that’s more than product, brand, and price. There’s a place for all of that in some of your other marketing endeavors. People also have an affinity for retailers who do good things. So many organizations need help. If there is a way to help fundraise by donating a percentage of sales to a local, worthy charity, consider it. Not only this year. Every year. Contact your local United Way. They might have a list of some families who have fallen on hard times. Imagine the face of a mother or wife if you gave them a pretty sterling silver necklace. Just a thought.
Gift cards for a large part of your customer base should be a given. If you have done it before, consider going deeper in your mailing list. Make sure it’s an attainable offer. If you haven’t, now is the time! Make sure there is a message of appreciation. And, as always, it should always be branded to have your look and feel.
Your biggest competitor has always been travel. And, although recent news is reporting a slight uptick, your larger buyer and older customers are most likely holding back, especially this holiday season. You are ripe to take those dollars. Those $15,000 – $30,000 trips are going to turn into some nice holiday jewelry buying this year. You may have less traffic. But, we predict your average sales will be much higher. For many of our clients, they already are.
Do the work. Do the planning. Do it now. And, you will have a fa la la fabulous holiday season.