Jewelry Retailing in an environment of global distrust: Here’s how you can restore faith in your customers while resuming operations

The world has come to a standstill since the Coronavirus pandemic. Offices, restaurants, factories have all come to an unpredictable halt that has resulted in huge losses on a global scale. The retail industry and especially the luxury industry including jewelry has taken one of the biggest hits ever in this generation, and is predicted to continue being unstable for some time once the pandemic is over. With such statements being put out, some sense of anxiety and panic is natural. The pandemic was unpredictable, but how can we best prepare ourselves once it’s over?

Gradually, the governments across the world are allowing the lockdown to be lifted in Green zones. If you’re are reopening your jewelry store, or will reopen soon, then lets dive down through some guidelines that you can follow.

Trust is a great factor in human nature and is one element very crucial to the survival of the retail industry. This element has been globally affected and will continue to walk on thin ice even afterlife resumes. Questions of sanitization, safety precautions will riddle the minds of your customers before they take a step inside your store. So what can you, as a retailer, do to calm these insecurities? How can you calm down your own? After all, cash availability, arranging working capital requirements, and training your staff will be priorities that will have to be prepared and worked on prior to resuming the opening of your store. With all these questions in mind, we have listed out some ways that can help in easing the process of reopening your luxury and jewelry businesses again to the public.

Inventory Management

Let’s accept the fact that you have earned about 10 percent on your gold inventories in the last couple of months, by just doing nothing. And let’s cherish that one positive aspect and move on.

Since stores have had to be shut till advised further in a matter of hours, it’s possible that your inventory status may be a bit haywire since it was last open. Before reopening, it’s important to do a thorough stock check and maintain an accurate record of the inventory to avoid any discrepancies.

However, it is pertinent to understand that customer preferences may have changed during this lockdown. Gold as an investment value is back in trend as it’s value has been increased.  Fast fashion may be losing sheen and the probability of timeless designs and designs with the emotional appeal being purchased more often is high. Hence you must connect with your customers first and understand their mindset and preferences before you make changes to your inventories.

Once you know what you have and what you need, this is where it’ll be good to contact your vendors and suppliers to update them on your orders and to make sure that everything is on schedule. If possible, negotiate the credit terms, without diluting your relationship with your suppliers. Both need to be satisfied with the negotiation and have a win-win solution.

Arranging Working Capital Requirements

With operations resuming, you’ll need to have some capital on hand to place your orders and pay your suppliers. Here are some methods you can use to acquire some short-term capital to get things started:

First thing that you can do right away is sell your dead stocks which you know will remain on the shelf unsold anyway. You may have already identified them in the first step above. This will give you some good liquidity for smooth running of operations.

Second, you can apply to the big ticket businesses for help. For example, Facebook Inc and Google Inc have decided to grant financial assistance to small businesses in several countries including India. Apply to them.

Next, you can apply for Short term loans. The above two options are obviously come at a lower cost. Lately, the RBI and the Government have taken concrete steps that have led to a reduction in the interest rates leading to a lower cost of borrowings. Off late, the gems and jewelry sector has found it difficult to convince the Bankers to lend to the industry. Hence a thoughtful approach is required with adequate repayment strategies.

Sanitization of Premises & Stock

This is a major step that needs to be addressed with utmost responsibility and care. Years’ worth of trust has been shattered, and now it’s your job to pick up the pieces and win that trust back. Here are some ways this can be done:

  • Infrared thermometers at the entrance can let you know if someone is unwell or not before they take any step further inside your store.
  • Hand sanitizer stations at the entrance and at each display counters.
  • It’ll be ideal to simply present the jewelry pieces in glass boxes, but if that’s not feasible, immediate sanitization of the pieces must be carried out once the customer is done examining it.
  • Masks and gloves should be mandatory for the employees.

There’s a great opportunity here that can be used to your advantage. Something that your customers have not experienced in months is being cared for while they’re shopping. This personal experience can be achieved by Jewelers, and this is the perfect chance for you to remind them of it. Opening the door for them, helping them with friendly suggestions and big smiles will all go a long way in keeping them happy, and around in your jewelry store. Something like this can only be pulled off if your staff is trained well.

Staff Training and Store Structure

As mentioned in the previous segment, it’s crucial that your employees are prepared with masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. However, there are some more precautions that should be planned and prepared beforehand, such as:

  • Ensuring appropriate social distancing norms are followed seriously by the staff and also by the customers. It will be their duty to make sure the norms are followed by the customers.
  • Controlled employee shifts will have to be logically formulized. With limited employees at a time, even if one person gets exposed, the rest should be safe and fit to work.
  • Reduced hours
  • Limit the number of customers that can, at one time, be inside the store. Accordingly try to set prior appointments with your customers. This can, in a way, also build exclusivity for your products.
  • Keep multiple payment acceptance modes prepared and ready to use. Try to maintain payment modes that are as contactless as possible, such as using platforms payment gateway, e-wallets, UPI system, etc.

Apart from this, your staff must be trained to be empathetic and sensitive to the customer. They will have to give these customers one thing that they are being deprived of while online shopping: a human touch. They must be courteous in their approach. Asking a simple “How are you today?” or if they need anything to drink can go a long way in helping them relax and be comfortable in your store. Compassion goes a long way, and it’s needed now more than ever.

The world is going through a drastic change and the old ways of retailing cannot survive this new world. Adapting is key, and compassion is the password along with it that will help in its survivability and stability in the foreseeable future.

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