Whether stocking branded goods or traditional jewellery designs from trusted suppliers, retail windows are more often than not filled with pieces produced by external companies.
Aside from training retail staff so they are equipped with all the knowledge and passion they need to sell a product, what else do jewellery retailers require from suppliers to ensure a best in class customer service?
Are books detailing every option still vital? Or are jewellers moving away from physical catalogues in favour of online listings? Do retailers want visuals from companies to place in store, or are they trying to create their own brand and therefore do not require any external images?
Do jewellers need help engaging with customers on social media, or do they feel confident enough to go at it alone?
Although a small trade, the jewellery industry is a diverse one and of course, there is no one size fits all solution for most things in business, including the type of support retailers would appreciate from suppliers.
Upon discussing this very issue with a selection of independent jewellers in the trade, it seems the jury is still out on whether the industry is ready to completely embrace digital technologies and wave goodbye to catalogues to instead flick through options on a screen or work from a dedicated trade site. However, when it comes to marketing materials, images for websites are absolutely key, with most jewellers agreeing the more tools a supplier can provide the better.
While a trend has been for retailers to focus on the brand name above the door, and create a streamlined visual throughout the store and online, independent jewellers still believe in the power of utilising images from their suppliers. Not only do new images help keep windows looking fresh, they can also add another point of difference from one store to another.
For retailers stocking branded goods, the majority want to showcase the company’s images which many consumers have come to affiliate with the brand and its seasonal promotions, while from fine jewellery suppliers it is useful to have strong visuals of hero products.
“We find product and marketing images one of the most important offering from suppliers,” shares Amy Mellor, sales and marketing at David Mellor. “As a business that is often short on man-power, we definitely value the ease and efficiency of supplier-provided imagery.”
Outside of store use, jewellers appreciate being able to promote brands and new products online and, as David Mellor Jewellers points out, it is massively helpful if suppliers equip retailers with already produced hi-res images to do so.
“Assistance in being able to populate our own website quickly and easily with supplier’s product and marketing imagery is vital,” explains Lumbers managing director, Dominic Gomersall. “Certain larger brands carry full website descriptions and photographs that we can access easily via password protected online portals. The advantage to them is that their message is uniform over many websites and our advantage is the ease to get product loaded accurately and quickly onto ours giving a professional looking site.”
“The most useful marketing tools from suppliers are images of products to go onto our website, and ready-made pictures for social media,” adds In The Pink owner, Karen Webb-Meek, with Drakes marketing manager, Nicola Price, adding: “Any social or web assets a brand can offer are fantastic. This helps us push their brand out to our audience while ensuring we are promoting their latest campaign/pieces.”
For the jewellery industry, it is the more visual social media websites which generate the most traffic and interest from consumers.
Instagram continues to be a top performing channel for jewellers, while Facebook, which allows easier interaction, follows closely behind.
While some jewellers have a specific member of staff dedicated to all things social media, this is definitely the exception rather than the rule.
For many retailers the store owners are still finding their way around the different social media channels, and any help navigating them is welcomed.
For brands which already have their own social media marketing campaign, it does no harm to share all the materials available with jewellery retailers, and give them full use of images and promotional messages, and for other industry suppliers, any videos or photos you might think would be good on your own site, are often useful for jewellery retailers too.
“Our main suppliers support us with product images, website banners and lifestyle images; enabling the promotion of their brand and new collections in our store and on our social media pages and website,” shares Silver Tree co-director, Hannah Riding. “The brands that support us with marketing tools, such as social media posts, get the most exposure through our online and social media marketing.”
“Promotional help is definitely an invaluable service a supplier can offer,” adds Amy Mellor. “Being time-poor, we tend to bias the products from suppliers that are able to provide social media imagery, website banners and other web materials.”
Silver Tree named Thomas Sabo and Swarovski as two brands which excel at providing materials that help retailers sell their products.
Riding explains: “Thomas Sabo and Swarovski both have separate media and marketing platforms where artwork is readily available. Swarovski excels at providing striking POS in store for the peak trading times of the year thus making their jewellery and our store more attractive and inviting. Brown & Newirth are also able to provide artwork quickly for in store and online as and when we need it.”
Alongside images, the most valuable assets suppliers can provide retailers with for social media is competitions they can partake in as well, hashtags they can encourage users to build a community within, and information on ‘star buys’ of the month.
Gomersall explains: “It is important that we have the information in hand. Press releases and product releases are vital so that we carry a coherent message that mirrors the brand message and remains within the brand parameters that they set.”
David Mellor highlights jewellery cleaning company Connoisseurs as a supplier which goes above and beyond for its retailers.
Amy Mellor explains: “Connoisseurs seem to have all bases covered. They offer social media and website imagery, and great POS for both online and in-store. For cleaning events, they provide posters and customisable web banners, along with attending the events for free so that we don’t lose a sales person from the shop floor.”
For retailers looking to offer bespoke options and respond quickly to customer enquiries about different options from a particular supplier, online listings are proving invaluable.
Whether using an efficient website from a particular supplier which will let them see what stones are available alongside live pricing; or using an online trading platform such as Cadfolio and Diamnet which allows retailers to see options available to them through a variety of trusted suppliers, the future for independents relies on them being able to offer competitive prices, a variety of options, and product modifications as more and more shoppers are looking for something completely bespoke or a ‘little bit different’.
Gomersall shares: “We find the Brown and Newirth app a vital information and pricing tool that saves phenomenal time and gives immediate pricing even when we are open and the supplier closed.”
Furthermore, better communication between retailers and suppliers wouldn’t go a miss. This includes suppliers answering emails more quickly and efficiently, and having a support team in place to answer the phone at vital points in the day/ week.
Better communication also means suppliers sharing their own marketing plans for the year with retailers so they can plan for new points of sales and window displays centred on hero products which need elevating; alongside considering what colour schemes might work best for a particular season.