‘You are not alone’ was the message Sara E. Yood, senior counsel for Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), underscored to jewelers in a recent webinar on navigating COVID-19’s impact on business.
“A lot of people are backing you up and support your success,” Yood said. “Your colleagues and friends in the industry have a shared interest in the success of our industry. Those further up the supply chain are counting on you for their family’s continued survival. State and local governments have an interest in our industry’s and general economic success. A broad spectrum of organizations are set up to fight for you in Washington D.C., monitor security, ensure agile trade, support consumer confidence and purchasing, and provide education.”
JVC has a page on its website dedicated to resources to help jewelers navigate this unprecedented time at jvclegal.org/covid19/. The Jeweler Support Network, made up of many jewelry industry organizations, also developed a resource portal at jewelersupportnetwork.com, with plans for consumer interfacing.
Many groups like The Plumb Club are hosting webinars, and they have also launched a podcast series available on their website’s Resource Page, with new podcasts introduced each month. “We’ve been thrilled with the reception of our podcasts and the engagement they’re receiving”, says Michael O’Connor, Marketing Director for The Plumb Club. “In the few weeks since we introduced this new retail resource, we have received phenomenal feedback and hundreds of downloads of the information.”
Vendors are committed to be there for their customers, with many able to ship stock items daily and also provide drop shipping directly to retail customers.
Providing access to cash, Quality Gold is there for retailers using this time to organize their stores and clean up their inventory. Through June 30th, QG’s refinery is processing “clean scrap” lots for daily payments.
“We will provide a 100 percent payout for Karat Gold (AU) or 103 percent credit towards Quality Gold accounts,” explains Cora Lee Colaizzi, marketing director and senior merchandiser for the Fairfield, Ohio based manufacturer. “As the unemployment rate continues to increase, until the economy recovers, retailers and consumers will seek cash. We want to help and are offering the highest payouts, as well as attractive options to support retailers.”
Viable & Visible
To keep their businesses “viable and visible”, during a time businesses are shuttered, jewelers are shifting their focus to online sales and social media, cites Theresa Namie, merchandise manager for Ostbye, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“We’re committed to our retailers and will do everything we can to help them to be successful during this critical time,” says Namie, sharing that Ostbye offers retail sales tools for jewelers, including social media posts and images for customers can easily share. “Our online Jewelbox.com allows jewelers to make our website theirs, to share either as a link or their own website.”
Because of the economy, Namie believes that many people will feel good about supporting local businesses, including jewelry retailers. “During this time, a piece of fine jewelry means that much more for these celebrations.”
In its weekly newsletter and through social media, Quality Gold advises jewelers about stocked products with price points reasonable for the current economic climate, shares Colaizzi, noting QG is shipping stock items daily. She says the team is meeting remotely on a new and expanded assortment for 14K, 10K and sterling silver jewelry. These projects were underway pre-pandemic, and QG is committed to launching new products and catalogs this fall.
Plan For It
“If there’s a silver lining to this situation, it’s that we have time to think strategically about the future and plan accordingly,” advocates Jonathan Cohen, president IB Goodman, Newport, Kentucky. “We’re optimistic because we employ talented and experienced people. We make great products, and we have first-rate customers in tune with their markets. Now is a good time for all of us to consider new business ideas and plan.”
IBG is developing new products and planning for Q4, says Cohen, noting in late April that, although it wasn’t manufacturing custom orders due to the COVID shutdown, it was shipping from inventory (with drop shipping available).
While shuttered, IBG has been conferencing remotely with accounts to determine holiday needs. He’s very excited about IBG’s new men’s catalogue, and on-trend styles for women like flexible diamond jewelry in its new Zé collection.
An important consideration for jewelers planning ahead, is tackling the topic of sustainability. Yood mentioned in JVC’s webinar that our experience with COVID-19 would likely accelerate our conversations around responsible sourcing, ethical practices, and metrics such as sustainable development goals.
Marketing consultants point to clear messaging around the notion of buying and sourcing products locally that are emerging from this conversation.
Cohen sees that as a benefit for IB Goodman. “While it is a challenging time to be sure, we’re optimistic about our long-term prospects as an American manufacturing company, with product line specializations and special order processing capabilities that are unique in our industry. Our operations don’t rely on global supply chain. When the U.S. markets reopen, we won’t be encumbered by lagging resumptions in other international industrial centers.”
Yood encouraged jewelers to think about how their businesses fit into this conversation. “Now is a good time to plan how you’re going to talk about issues like sustainability and supply chain transparency, if you aren’t already, as these will be important directions post pandemic.”