The recession has changed the face of retailing

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Why wholesale brands undercutting retailers is "commercial suicide".

By Andrew Robinson

Retailing in the last decade has bought more change than in the preceding century – changes that were accelerated by the recession.

Lots of factors have changed the retail landscape, like online specialists, brands being able to sell direct to market and online clearance sites. All of these raise the question of how brands can interact with their stockists, both traditional and digital, so that we can all prosper equally.

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I personally feel using one’s own website to undercut the retail prices charged by wholesale customers is commercial suicide. At Azuni, we show full retail prices on all of our current ranges, and never go on sale.

Through our own website we allow shoppers to explore the full range of styles we offer. This is especially useful for giving consumers who live in areas of the country where we are poorly represented access to our brand. Most importantly we are not looking to replace or undercut our retail partners; the most looked-at page on our site is in fact the stockist page. The internet sales we do achieve are often for matching styles to existing bestsellers which are not stocked locally, or from international shoppers, both retail and trade.

Buying trends have also changed dramatically in the last few years and I now believe retailers are looking for brands to be carrying inventory, so they can top up regularly. This is tricky and expensive for smaller companies to manage.

Comment from retailers regarding product development is commonplace, but purely developing items based on price point is a negative step. We find that shoppers will still pay a premium for well-designed striking pieces, although persuading retailers to stock these has become harder.

The last few years have tested the resolve of the entire jewellery supply chain, but recession does lead to much faster change in terms of product and trend.

The end of the recession now looks likely, and a return of confidence to the high street will reward those brands that performed efficiently and honourably, increasing growth and distribution.

Andrew Robinson is sales director at Azuni. His Guest Column was taken from the April issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. To read the issue in full online, click here.
 

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