Text Esther B.J. Ligthart
In the past I have been an agent for jewelry agencies. Visiting clients in their stores was part of the job. As most visits occur during opening time, I have had the opportunity to observe many hours the sales staff and how they approach clients and try to make a sale. I’ve also worked in stores myself, including running a family owned jewelry store in Italy for 6 years. I have always remained interested in retail and sales and formed my views and opinions based on all these years of observation and experience, reading and being very curious.
Here is what I found: Unless the store was high-end, most of the -often part-time staff- was not prepared. That sounds maybe bold, but most seemed to view their job as any retail job. Not highly paid and with the possibility to work part-time ( I observed mostly in the Benelux and U.K.). A number of sales staff seemed to gain some status from working in a jewelry store, others however seemed kind of the opposite almost. There was hardly any knowledge about material, about brands, about options or any of these crucial things. They often seemed uncomfortable with clients looking for something that asked a little more than opening a glass showcase and getting one of the fashion brands items out.
I have seen too many times how sales associates acted like protecter of the client’s wallet, not daring to take out the more expensive pieces. Or how not knowing about something in depth, withheld them from proposing it all together. Very understable, but very bad for business. Motivation, Inspiration, Training and Passion Are they to blame? Well, partially yes, because everyone has their own responsibility to how they interpret their job and the effort and energy they put into it. We all have seen those who seem to always go just that extra mile.
But it all starts with the owner. Giving training to staff and encourage them to specialize, dive into the world of jewelry together and create opportunities to learn, will make a huge difference. I have been to some of these trainings and they were not very exciting. Lack of passion rubs off on everyone. Inspire them and create motivation, making people responsible for certain things and including and allowing them to get trained by the brands that they sell, seem obvious solutions. The lack of interest for all or most of these things, has been, in my opinion, shocking. The changing world of retail Although all this happened years ago, today, with brick-and-mortar retail suffering and rapidly changing consumer behavior, both in how purchase decisions are made and how purchasing is done, the call for immediate action seems more urgent than ever. In order to survive, one of the things a store owner could do now, is to invest in their human resources. Not just by training them about the jewelry, but also establishing how clients are treated.
I would like to throw in a little client journey experience too; it all starts online ( how is your website? How are your social media activities) and it needs to go all the way to creating a fantastic, efficient ( forget the past: clients shouldn’t be held in your store as long as possible, in order to create more sales opportunity) experience that exceeds their expectation. Easy? No. But doable, yes! Today and tomorrow, jewelry retailers, like all retailers, face a lot of challenges and changes. E-commerce, the rise of mono-brand stores, the growing amount of brands, technology and marketing; it is all rapidly evolving. But I like to think, that today one can already make a change, and gain more fans and sales, through creating a much nicer and better shopping experience. Invest in your people. Allow them to develop a true passion for jewelry and sales, even if they work just 24 hours weekly. It’ll make a difference!
Esther B. J. Ligthart
Esther is a freelance journalist and runs the popular jewelry blog Bizzita.com. Recently she has created a new platform for jewelry stores and the jewelry industry to shine on her blog and get found by their clients! She has over 20 years of jewelry business experience and still works as a private-and business jewelry consultant.