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Let Sales Rise with the Mercury
The sweltering summer is making people sweat; the global economic meltdown is vaporizing profits. Buying is at a low and the first one to be hit is the retailer of luxury goods, especially jewellery - simply because jewellery is the first thing that goes off people’s must-buy lists. Times are tough, but hope is not to be lost…there are many ways that the retail jeweller can not just survive but even make profits in the recession.
By: Roli Gupta
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Jul 22 2009 12:13PM
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Reference: 4022  

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Typically, the predictable response to getting more shoppers and increasing sales in the recession falls in one of two categories of activities:

1. Increasing brand visibility by advertising in print, television, hoardings and so on.

2. Attracting customers by offering various discounts, promotions, schemes and the like.

Though cost-cutting is essential, some expenditure is necessary to ensure sales, so long as the return on the investment justifies the cost. This then is a look at what retailers can do beyond the usual - to really get more shoppers into their stores and increase sales, recession notwithstanding.

Increasing brand visibility…

Out of sight is out of mind is a saying especially true in case of luxury items. It is important to be visible…ideally creating a circumstance where people think of the brand every time they think of jewellery.

Harness the power of the internet: The internet is a very powerful medium with a wide reach.A strong online presence usually means a strong brand visibility. The first step is to have an attractive, up-to-date website in place. The site must utilize SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to show up in jewellery related searches in popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Some other essentials are contact details, store timings, address with map to reach the store and an online catalog and online shopping option. It is wise to invest in training 2-3 staff members for handling customer calls and queries. Getting listed on free yellow pages like Justdial is also a good way to be seen in internet searches related to jewellery. Blogging is a valuable and effective free tool for raising indirect awareness about the store. Simple blogs about jewellery, its types and care, educational articles, latest trends attract customers looking for information about jewellery on the internet. Mailers like weekly email newsletters keep the store in the customer’s memory. Shoppers Stop has a weekly email newsletter which keeps the customers informed about the latest in the store, the entire catalog, and has direct links for shopping online with a contact number for assistance.

Let the jewellery be seen:

Bollywood, television and fashion and other popular events bring good secondary publicity for jewellery. There are numerous examples - Velvette Eyegear associated Race and sales increased by nearly 40%. Tanishq got huge mileage with Jodhaa Akbar’s jewellery, as did Sia Art Jewellery with Devdas and Om Shanti Om.

Biba, the clothing brand gets very good media coverage with its collections in films – Videsh, Veer Zaara amongst others. Van Heusen did a “Ghajini” collection and the urban crowd thronged stores to buy clothes worn by Aamir Khan in the film. Gitanjali Gold associated with Femina Miss India 2009 and got huge visibility for the jewellery provided to the participants. Since the winners’ crowns were sponsored by Gitanjali, every time the winners’ make an appearance in public, their crowns get publicity and so does the brand. With practically every city hosting its own fashion week, getting jewellery displayed in fashion weeks is a practical and relatively inexpensive option.

Sponsoring jewellery for whichever is the most popular television serial or reality show is a good idea too. Advertisements to that effect will have people talking about the store in no time. Sia Art Jewellery is already doing this for a few television programmes on Star Plus. Gitanjali Group came up with another idea - sponsoring the Man of the Match trophy for the IPL matches played by Mumbai Indians - a fantastic way to get some great advertising which pays results far more than the investment.

Another way is to get good visibility is to have a Bollywood celebrity wear the store’s jewellery to events and parties and then ensure that a mention appears in the page 3 section of the newspapers. This is practically free advertisement.

Organizing jewellery shows, jewellery awareness workshops and seminars, sponsoring a charity event, an auction or participating in festivals at bigger stores like Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle or Westside or malls is also a good way to get some heavy-duty brand visibility within a short period of time. Shoppers Stop and also Lifestyle in Mumbai recently had a “Sunglasses Festival”, where there were special discounts on sunglasses and good prizes to be won – the jewellery retailer can organize a “Rings” festival for instance and get good publicity. Louis Phillippe hosted a tie Festival. Luxury brand Shobha Asar recently had a 2-day “Jhumki” exhibition at their stores, a good way to get customers in for a viewing of jewellery which is comparatively more affordable than heavy sets.

For a wider reach beyond the store, putting up a kiosk in malls is a good idea. Several perfume brands like Moschino, Lacoste put up kiosks in malls to offer customers a sample of their latest perfume. Planet M put up a kiosk in Oberoi mall to promote its latest scheme, which would have been restricted to its own stores only. LG also had a kiosk to promote its Lead India campaign with kid participants getting free gifts. In the case of jewellery, one type of jewellery can be put on display – ear rings or bracelets and so on. Another way to get really visible is to tie up with big apparel chains and launch jewellery lines in conjunction with their clothing lines – value of the advertising is double its cost.

Another way is to get coverage of products or getting an in-house jewellery expert to write on topics related to jewellery in fashion and beauty magazines and websites. If needed, a competent pr person can be hired for co-ordinating public relations activities.

Attract the customer by offering strong discounts and well-thought out schemes: Promotional schemes, discounts and offers are obviously a great way to attract the customers. But, whatever is the free scheme or discount or promotional offer, some things need to be kept in mind –

1. Make sure that the staff is adequately trained to handle all queries about the new scheme that is being offered.

2. Advertisements, emails, postal mails and calls are all essential to keep the customer informed about new schemes.

3. Discounts should be genuine and ensure that the customer understands all the fine print before purchasing, so that she is not left with a feeling of being cheated.

The kind of gifts the store offers is sometimes crucial to ensuring more shoppers. An assured gift on every purchase is definitely more interesting than simply a “buy and win” offer. Reportedly, the MidEast Watch & Jewellery Show had around 35,000 visitors over 5 days, and attractive offers and good prices on jewellery were key to attracting more customers and increasing sales.

For example, Canon tied up with Surat Diamonds for a discount of Rs. 5000 on Surat Diamond jewellery on purchase of Canon printers. Several brands offer discounts when their products are purchased through certain credit cards or frequent user cards like those in bigger stores. Since jewellery can be an expensive purchase, easy monthly installment schemes are attractive to customers. One way to get shoppers in to stores is to repair/polish/restring jewellery for free, with no hidden costs. Popular optician stores offer such schemes – Foresight Opticals for example offers to check eyesight for free with no hidden cost. This brings the customer into the store and they obviously also look around to see the other products on offer. Malls typically have a cost for parking, stores like Lifestyle offer redemption of the parking coupon on purchases. This is another way of attracting customers to the store.

Then, using special occasions or events– Valentine’s Day, the IPL or Akshaya Tritiya or Mothers Day is also a good way to launch discounts and schemes. Tanishq offered upto 25% discount on making charges on Akshaya Tritiya. The brand also launched a special pendant with the entire Bhagvad Gita inscribed on it. In Bangalore, Navrathan Jewellers offered scratch-card coupons with rewards on the spot for purchase of over Rs 3,000. Rajaratnam Jewellers offered Rs 40 off on the gold rate, and put up a special counter where there are no making charges. Prakash Jewellers also had offers like Rs 700 less for a Swiss-made 8-gm gold coin and Rs 350 less for a Swiss-made 4-gm gold coin. Reliance Jewels in Hyderabad offered free gold coins and massive discounts on purchase of jewellery more than Rs.15,000. Banks brought out special edition coins. Delhi based PC Jewellers offered 25% discount on making charges. All these schemes together accounted for a 15% increase in sales on Akshaya tritiya day. Several schemes were also offered on Mother’s Day. Upto 40% discounts on products and packages like free spa treatment or dinner coupons on purchase of jewellery were on offer – definitely very attractive for the customer and obviously better profits for the retailer.

So, for the innovative and sensible retail jeweler, there are a host of options to increase sales, but whatever the method – schemes, offers, discounts, advertising…the key is to never compromise on the quality of product and service offered to the client. After all, customer is always queen and she is the reason why there is business in the first place!

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