Diving Into Digital

With disruptions to travel and large gatherings, and social distancing the protocol for the foreseeable future, how we do business is changing at warp speed.

The shift to online from physical retail just caught a major tailwind with mandated closures of non-essential businesses throughout the nation. Andrea Hill of the Hill Management Group told retailers in a recent InStore webinar that it’s time for everyone to be a digital marketer.

“This isn’t just for during the crisis, because people are developing new habits and many will stick,” Hill says. “Start making a rational digital strategic plan now, and be prepared to implement it over the next several months. It’ll be great when people start coming back into the stores, but your digital strategy is here to stay.”

Diamond industry thought leader Martin Rapaport underscored this point in a recent webinar hosted by the Rapaport Group. “Internet technology is becoming fully integrated in our lives now. As schools, businesses, markets close, electronic ways of doing business is the only lifeline.”

First Site
As more people turn to the Internet to be educated, entertained, buy things, and stay connected during this crisis, never before has it been so critical to have a strong online presence.

As your virtual hub, your web site is key and should include ecommerce, Hill underscored. “If your store is closed, you can’t bring in cash if you don’t have ecommerce.”

If you haven’t done so, add ecommerce to your site, echoed Sherry Smith, director of business development for The Edge Retail Academy in the InStore webinar. Those who still have a legacy site could create a Shopify store to link to as a good solution for now. She cited other ways to sell digitally like web chat, Instagram swipe and buy, and email that produces good return on investment.

Customers already expect ease in connecting, communicating and learning; and speed in real-time response to and proactive forecasting of needs for the companies with whom they do business, finds the customer-experience consulting firm Walker in its Customers 2020 Progress Report.

Be Creative
It’s important to innovate during times of chaos, champions Trend Hunter. The consumer research-firm released inMarch its updated 100 “disruptive” ideas for 2020. Many of the trends underscore our connection to our mobile devices. Among them: Augmented Reality in retail and ecommerce offering customized, interactive, opt-in experiences; QR codes for interactive engagement to retrieve information; and digital community-building apps that connect like-minded people. Trend Hunter finds that the mobile phone has become a personal archive, from storing articles to jotting down notes. People like that it bridges the gap between the physical and digital worlds.

Videos on social media are going to be critical to staying in business, believes Barbara Palumbo, watch and jewelry journalist and blogger for adornamentality.com and whatsonherwrist.com. “People are home from work, so you have a captive audience. If you’re still working at a physical location and you’re receiving shipments, create a YouTube channel or use Facebook or Instagram LIVE and film an ‘unboxing’ of what’s new.” She also cites the value of newsletters and blog posts in the mix, “so keep those going or start them up”.

Also, a fan of short videos, Liz Chatelain, president of MVI Marketing advocates jewelers and their staff tell stories. “Share the reasons you’re in the jewelry business. Talk about the pieces you love and places you’ve been to in the name of gems and jewelry. Share photos. Answer questions. Show how to clean jewelry. As entertainment, you’re proving your value!”

There is perhaps no better topic jewelers could talk about now than how their customers can clean and care for their jewelry during this time of extra hand sanitizing, encourages The Kingswood Company, manufacturer of private label jewelry cleaning and care products.

While hand sanitizer is safe for all hard stones and precious metals, the alcohol in it could damage soft gems like opal and pearl (so advise customers to remove rings set with soft stones before using). Waterless soap has other ingredients that can dull jewelry’s shine. Why not create a short video showing your customers how to remove oil and grime buildup on rings and other jewelry using your branded custom cleaners to do the task (#cleanjewelry is trending).

Chatelain encourages jewelers team up with their vendors to see what they can do together, imagining a jeweler and designer sharing a split screen in a virtual show-and-tell. What kind of online marketing can you do with your vendors?