The jewellery stores on today’s high street all look and feel different to the beginning of the year, and this is due the government providing strict guidelines for trading this side of the pandemic.
Jewellers up and down the country, large or small, have had to put measures in place to protect staff and customers.
Such measures have included reducing the number of people who are allowed in store at a given time, adding floor markings and physical boundaries to ensure safe social distancing, and introducing hand sanitising stations among many other things.
While jewellers were more than happy to make changes to trade safely post-lockdown, a big concern for many was how to keep the customer experience special and memorable.
Joe Walsh, the chief executive of Laings, shares: “The safety of our clients and staff is paramount and is at the forefront of our re-opening strategy post-lockdown. The pandemic has caused shockwaves to the retail industry, and will inevitably have a long-lasting impact. At Laings, we pride ourselves on our customer service, and through this difficult crisis, we believe there is an opportunity to provide a bespoke appointment service providing safety alongside a personal first class customer service. Ahead of re-opening, our retail staff underwent specific training to deliver the standard of service we aspire to in conjunction with the necessary safety measures.”
Jewellery retailer, David M Robinson, has become a leader in luxury, and like Laings, will be adapting its service to ensure its high standards and the government’s safety measures are met.
“The experience our clients receive in-store is always hugely important to us and I can safely say it won’t become any less important,” reveals David M Robinson general manager, Karl Irwin. “In every walk of life, we’re all adapting to the new normal and luxury retail will do just that. We know that whilst there may be a need for less clients in our showrooms during trading periods, the same level of personal service will continue, albeit at a safe distance. As well as this, we know that we must remain vigilant and flexible to the changing needs of our clients, which will likely mean an increase in the number of deliveries of special gifts to their home the evening before an occasion, and more home appointments than pre-Covid.”
“As many retailers the pride we take in supplying what we hope is an excellent level of customer experience is paramount,” echoes Judith Hart of Judith Hart Jewellers. “I cannot see why that level of professionalism, commitment and passion for taking care of our customers should change; however it may presented in a slightly different format.”
Judith Hart offers customers a bespoke, one-to-one experience – something that the business will be able to continue to do, albeit with changes that might include the staff wearing gloves and the customers using hand sanitiser before entering the store.
“We still have the same committed, caring staff members and it will be their level of knowledge and ability to engage with our customers that will matter,” Hart says.
For Wongs Jewellers in Liverpool, the store has had to make adjustments to ensure social distancing is possible, but the managing director is confident that his staff will be able to still deliver the service they have become renowned for in the city.
Peter Wong explains: “Our store is a very open store and not a traditional style store with a counter. This allowed our sales team to serve from the floor and take a customer to desks. Post-lockdown this style of service is bit trickier to provide due to social distancing but we have our team wearing visors so they can still move around the shop floor without coming from behind a protective screen.”
“So, the first memorable experience will come from being served by someone who looks like they’ve just come off the set of a Sci-Fi movie,” adds Wong. “Once we are used to this new experience we will continue with our ‘Book an Appointment’ so we can prepare the items a customer wishes to view ahead of their visit. This will allow us to tailor and narrow down what they want and eliminate waiting times in the store.”
Many jewellers Professional Jeweller spoke to revealed that customers were ready and waiting to come back into store, with people getting in touch ahead of time to make appointments and discuss products they are looking to purchase.
“We had a lot of enquiries from existing customers who were keen to come in and called to find out when we will be open again,” the namesake founder of Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery shares with us. Anticipating what trends will be popular now that customers can come into store and interact with the team, the business owner predicts: “We think that people feel more connected and are delighted to see each other again after lockdown and they appreciate each other a lot more. So we are anticipating jewellery to mark this personal connection between people who have missed each other. We have delivered a number of lockdown engagement rings already. We also anticipate a number of eternity rings from perhaps a pending baby boom in nine months’ time!”