TRY SOMETHING NEW!
The start of any new year is the perfect time to measure the past year’s goals and objectives against their outcomes so that you can respond—and perhaps set new agendas—accordingly. That might mean exploring new revenue streams, trying out the latest tech solutions, considering new categories and vendors, or investing in a strategic new hire.
First, Reflect, Learn, and Look for Ways to Level Up
“Take a good look at what really happened—in your business and on a broader scale, in your market,” says Kate Petersen, president and CEO of Performance Concepts, a consultancy designed to meet the education, training and business development needs of specialty retailers and their suppliers. “That’s the best way I know for a business owner to ensure that they are able to capitalize on the momentum created by the strategies, plans and programs that went well, and to avoid the all-too-present ‘retail Groundhog Day’ that seems to take hold around the things that didn’t deliver the intended results.”
There are many approaches to this exercise and Petersen believes there are two critical elements that retailers need to keep in mind. The first is to remain objective in your evaluation process. “Avoid excuses. No amount of analysis is helpful if the underlying purpose is to explain away less than stellar results.”
Second. “I think the single most productive exercise at the start of the year is to take a complete asset inventory—looking at the skills, abilities and performances of each staff member, and matching them to what you see as your greatest needs going forward.”
As you set new objectives, a test-and-learn approach might become essential to your overall strategy, especially if your brand goals are to evolve, innovate, and modernize. That might mean revisiting your visual identity, investing in new talent, or seeking ways to improve workplace culture with the goal of retaining existing employees.
Your 2023 growth strategy might also motivate you to evaluate some of the newest merchandise and program offerings from key vendors, including what TPC Members have to offer in the coming months. Below, just a few of the most compelling 2023 propositions that TPC Members want retailers to know about in the months ahead.
Exciting All-New Collections
In early 2023, A. Jaffe will unveil a fashion collection, presenting retailers with an exciting opportunity to introduce A. Jaffe bridal clients to the full breadth of the brand’s design capabilities.
Chic Pistachio’s Aurelie Gi has two new collections that are perfect for beating the wintertime blues. Zenning Out “continues our focus on earrings and singly sold styles for curating the perfect ear,” says Kat Whitacre, national sales director. Wishbone centers on a classic chevron shape: “The Aurelie Gi brand is all about mixing and matching and creating your own look.,” she adds.
The Revenue Stream You Might Have Overlooked
If you haven’t added jewelry care and cleaning skus to your product assortment yet, 2023 might be the year to look into it. TPC Member, The Kingswood Company, has plenty of data to prove why this category could be the low-hanging fruit that pays off in the long run. “Adding a $15-to-$30 sale of jewelry care products to a percentage of transactions really adds up quickly,” says Kristie Nicolosi, Kingswood Company president and CEO.
An Intelligence-Powered New Program
You know TPC Member IDD as a reliable supplier of diamond basics and fast-moving bridal styles. Now, IDD
retailer partners can be among the first to experience a new division of the brand, IDD Luxe, which will focus on providing elevated luxury diamond jewelry developed through the lens of market intelligence and data-driven product differentiation.
Tantalum – A Tantalizing New Option
When it comes to selling men’s and unisex jewelry, Tantalum is relatively unknown to most consumers, giving it a built-in mystique and an air of novelty that many will find irresistible. Novell, a subsidiary of TPC Member Continental Jewellery, recently added Tantalum bands to its catalog. How do you sell clients on it? Emphasize the cool factor when you show them options. For example, tantalum is rare, has a unique gunmetal gray-blue color, and boasts the third highest melting point of all the elements.
The 2023 Tech Advancements Every Retailer Should Know
The imperative for every jewelry business, every year? Innovate, innovate, innovate.
For many companies, that means looking critically at the tech currently powering your in-store experiences, inventory management, and even something as basic as how your website looks a and feels. A recent McKinsey Digital article, “New Year’s Resolutions for Tech,” might be a great place to start researching potential improvements, from “freeing the engineers you already have…to do less—less administrative work, less bureaucratic work, less manual work” so that they can be more productive to “automating processes, investing in data foundations…and continually renewing the IT architecture” so that your company is in peak shape to embrace new tech innovations that present themselves throughout the year.
Especially when it comes to the solutions developed by tech firms and agencies that specialize in the fine jewelry space. Consider The Plumb Club’s own digital platforms: The Jewelers Resource Center, which is free and open to the entire jewelry industry, is fully stocked with relevant, educational content plus a Sourcing Center to help retailers find vendors, consultants and services based on their needs (e.g., social media, store design, and branding). Meanwhile, that platform houses TPC-365 which allows retailers to view and learn about each TPC Member’s product offerings and request virtual meetings, anywhere and on any device.
Both platforms are the result TPC’s ongoing strategic plan to innovate all aspects of the supplier/retailer relationship with the most sophisticated. ever-expanding tools and services. The creation of these products was accelerated in response to the Covid crisis halting trade shows and in-person appointments. Now, in addition to facilitating virtual meetings between TPC members and their retailers, TPC-365 has evolved to become a great example of “blended tech”—that is, a B2B solution with elements that can also be used to enrich the in-person, B2C sales experience in stores.
With blended tech, retail associates can share the full collection of design choices with clients virtually at any point during their interactions with them. In a day and age when customers want what they want, when they want it—i.e., instantaneously—the immediacy of available product is vital.
TPC-365’s ability to schedule and host virtual meetings is a solution powered by BOSS Logics, a software development company specializing in the jewelry industry, which also counts many TPC Members as clients, including Gold Star, Marathon, A.Jaffe, ODI, and more.
What’s its take on the direction for jewelry industry-specific tech in 2023?
“The future of the fine jewelry industry is hybrid: blending in-person human interaction with state-of-the-art technology that enhances virtual shopping, wholesale or retail, and allows on-going strategic interaction via software-driven sales and customer analysis,” says Zach Lipsky, CEO and president of BOSS Logics.
This year, he adds, “retailers can improve their sales strategies by introducing blended technology, fusing virtual and in-person product presentations to meet the customer’s needs, no matter where they are geographically. These solutions are not replacing the physical and emotional connections made with clients but enhancing them. They supplement a retail customer’s buying journey and allow clients to reach retailers seamlessly at home or in the store.”
So, if a customer is looking for ruby earrings and has preferences on size and style and the retailer does not have product to match their vision in stock, the retailer can then log into TPC-365 to review additional options from an array of TPC suppliers to present as alternatives.
Even better: With blended tech, retailers can sell beyond their case line by showing matching and complimentary pieces that can be special-ordered—and note the customers preferences for future visits.
So, will 2023 be the year you really go for it when it comes innovating your tech capabilities? We hope it is—and we’re here to help!
New Talent Acquisition Among Top Retailer Priorities in 2023
As we mentioned above, assessing your current staff’s performance—and the business’s needs for potential new hires—should be a key component of your annual review of how the previous year’s objectives and tactics paid off.
Right now, the macro conversation about staffing and hiring trends is centered on two key topics: 1) the great need for new talent and staff but not enough applicants, qualified or otherwise and 2) retaining the employee’s businesses already have. (The Forbes article “Here’s How the Workforce Will Look in 2023” by career expert Ashley Stahl provides a good overview of the landscape that many business owners will be navigating in this regard.)
These two topics square with what Susan Posnock, director of public affairs and information at Jewelers of America (JA), has observed in conversation with retailers and as part of her latest project: updating JA’s online Career Guide to reflect the changing face of the jewelry industry’s job opportunities and pathways to growth in the post-pandemic era. “We surveyed our members last summer, and definitely there’s a lot of frustration in terms of being able to find good people, keep and retain them,” she says.
If your goal is to keep your business and vision fresh, Posnock believes investing in new talent is key. “The more you have new people coming in, the better. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve started the 20 Under 40 program. They’re a great group of people in the industry who are young and have great ideas. And we need to continue to foster that. And you can’t foster that if you don’t invest.”
Meanwhile, plenty of Plumb Club Members have recently invested in top talent to help set them up for success in 2023. These fresh perspectives have resulted in more compelling product assortments, more sophisticated guidance and tools when it comes to supporting retailer partners, and more.
Below, some key new hires from a few Plumb Club Members whom you will hopefully get to know on a personal level this year.
Priscila Hueb, vice president, merchandising and brand development, A. Jaffe . Though Hueb joined A. Jaffe in February 2022, the full impact of her involvement will manifest itself this year, especially when it comes to product development. Prior to joining A.Jaffe, Hueb was the creative director for Hueb, a luxury design company that worked with Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Neiman Marcus among others.
Brad Campbell, chief partnership officer, and Sushil Choksey, partner, IDD. IDD is hoping to shake up the industry with a brand-new division called IDD Luxe. By using data-driven insights, IDD Luxe aims to create fresh products and processes that appeal to the modern consumer. This new division was created by IDD President and CEO Alok Mehta, who recently brought on two experts to help bring his vision to life: Brad Campbell, who will serve as chief partnership officer, while longtime IDD partner (a.k.a. the “Bridal Buddha”) Sushil Choksey will consult on strategy.
Shawn Molloy, account manager, Chic Pistachio. Like many of us in the industry, Shawn Molloy has a passion for “all things sparkly, especially diamonds and fine jewelry.” And she’s been able to cultivate this point of view through her previous roles at some top-tier jewelry brands including Hearts on Fire and Swarovski. At Chic Pistachio she will be supporting its fashion brands Ania Haie and Aurelie Gi with her more than 20 years of experience in the luxury industry, including not just sales, but also merchandising and product development.