Diamond jewellery was once seen as a product that could never be sold online. Then along came online companies such as Blue Nile, which revolutionized the way diamonds were sold, and the whole industry scrambled to get online. Fast forward a few years and Blue Nile and other online sellers opened bricks and mortar stores and once again changed the way the industry operates.
Think Omni-Channel Rather than Multi-Channel
It seems almost too obvious to say, but your best retail strategy is to have both an online and offline presence. But you have to be careful how you do it. You need to think omni-channel” rather than “multi-channel.” Unfortunately, too many jewellers think of their website and store as two different entities rather than complementary parts of the same business.
Even more importantly, your website and social presence should enhance the physical shopping experience (and vice-versa) with both elements driving traffic to the other.
Give shoppers the option to come and browse in-store, do their research and talk to helpful team members. Once they leave the shop, they can play on your ring-builder app and place an order on your website. They should be able to pay online using an integrated shopping cart and then either return to your store to pick up their pre-wrapped bag, which is ready and waiting for them, or receive their jewellery direct to their door.
What Can Be Improved?
In reality, this rarely happens. Many retailers have a long way to go before they have a successful omni-channel strategy. But it’s easy to make changes that will have a huge impact.
- Look and Feel – Too often, a jewellery shop’s website appears very different from the look and feel of the physical boutique. Make sure your shop and your online presence complement each other in everything from the same branding and colour scheme to the same layout out of product categories so online browsers can find what they are looking for.
- Integrated Inventory – No matter how many sales platforms and means of sale you use, make sure your inventory is fully integrated. Don’t make the mistake of having one inventory for in-store stock and another for your online platforms. To avoid customer disappointment, potential embarrassment and a lost customer, ensure your online shopping cart and instore inventory are fully integrated, and that they are updated immediately.
- Valuing Online Shoppers – Make sure your terms and conditions are the same for items bought online or in-store. If someone buys online, there should be an easy way to return the item, just as a shopper who buys in-store expects to have a reasonable return policy.
- Create Meaningful Relationships – Use your store to drive your online marketing strategy and take advantage of loyal followers to push your in-store business. For example, collect email addresses in-store and use them to grow and develop your relationship with your clients and fans online. Similarly, reward loyal online customers with special in-store deals so they have a reason to browse and shop.
Gen Z – The Ultimate Omni-Chanel Shoppers
If you need any more motivation to think “omi,” a look to the future should do it. There is a new generation of consumers, “Gen Z,” getting primed to shop in droves. This new generation of consumers will change the retail experience, in much the same way Millennials made jewellers realize the old ways just weren’t working anyone.
While these 18-22-year-old “post-millennials” are still a few years away from getting engaged or married in significant numbers, the way they already shop provides a look into the way the retail landscape could be headed.
According to the annual AMP Capital Shopping Centres (AMPCSC) Recommended Retail Practice Report, while millennials love to shop online, Gen Z are returning to the shopping mall and doing their browsing and buying in-store. These “Future Shoppers” want shopping to be a social event and crave the “face-to-face, touch-and-feel contact” only found in physical stores.
Although they might close the deal in-store, Future Shoppers spent a lot of time pre-shopping online. Digitally connected since birth (more or less) they even continue their research once they are inside a store. Gen Z’s behaviour is helping shape retailers’ omni-channel strategy (rather than vice versa) – providing geo-targeted alerts from a brand’s app to sending shoppers in-store offers and specials that reflect their online behaviour.
Adding Value to the Shopping Experience Both Online and Off
Take note. Gen Z’ers will shape the shopping experience in more ways than just how they make purchases.
Like Millennials, Gen Z’ers want their consumption to “mean something.” They value strong ethics and companies who do more than “just” sell them something. They require retailers – both on and offline – to be sustainable and ethically conscious.
According to the AMPCSC study, “Smart retailers have achieved this by identifying and supporting social and environmental causes through partnerships with like-minded charities, introducing sustainable and/or ethical products or employing sales assistants who are passionate about the same social causes.”
Importantly for jewellery retailers, the study found that unlike the traditional image of the downtrodden male forced to go shopping, Australian males are embracing retail therapy and are more interested in staying ahead of trends than Australian women.
The study found, however, they haven’t completely shrugged off their traditional role as reluctant shoppers. More truthfully, retailers have overlooked the wants and needs of this new spending demographic. Consequently, many young males are uncomfortable shopping alone in shopping centres or malls. “To address this, smart retailers have focused on their customer service offering, ensuring their team provide a welcoming approach when engaging with this target market.”
When it comes to omni-channel retailing, the first step is to get your house in order. Only then can you gear up for the oncoming Gen Z invasion.