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Coronavirus or COVID-19, as the World Health Organization (WHO) named it, is a strain discovered in 2019. It is an emerging zoonotic disease that had not been identified in humans until the first outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Currently, there are over 220,000 COVID-19 cases globally with China, Italy, Iran, Spain, and Germany recording the highest number of cases. With no specific vaccine or cure at this moment, but with promising clinical trials on coronavirus cure, other than social distancing and self-quarantining, there is no end in sight as of yet.
COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the global economy. It is closing non-essential businesses, schools, and borders. Like other industries, the jewelry industry is vulnerable to coronavirus. We have seen Baselworld, the largest and most important watch and jewelry show in the world, postponed to January 2021, the Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show, and the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show rescheduled from March to May 2020, and Swatch Group’s Time to Move watch summit canceled – all because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The impact of COVID-19 is not only visible in the global jewelry trade show calendar. It also negatively impacts retail sales worldwide. For example, China’s retail stores have been closed while India’s gem and jewelry industry takes a hit as Hong Kong, a major trading hub for gem, gold, and jewelry exports from India, closed down.
So, what can the jewelry industry do to cushion the blow of coronavirus?
Here are four ways you, jewelers, can prepare your jewelry store for the coronavirus outbreak. Read on!
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How to Prepare Your Jewelry Store for the Coronavirus Outbreak
1. Leverage the digital world
The world has gone digital. From Cold Play’s Chris Martin and John Legend’s virtual concerts to Broadway shows, the digital spaces are, indeed, lucrative spaces, but this switch does not end in arts and music alone. In fact, online retail, already booming way before coronavirus, is set to grow even more as people avoid public spaces to follow social distancing measures. As a result, some online stores start to offer free shipping and more stress-free return policies to further take advantage of the demand.
The jewelry industry need not stall its operation. Jewelers could very well continue the trade by leveraging the digital world, after all, 87% of consumers do a product search on different digital channels. There are many ways to do this.
- Capture 360 videos/photos of your jewelry to emulate the in-store engagement
First, shopping is a visual activity that demands a rich visual shopping experience. In this digital age, product interaction is no longer confined within the walls of physical jewelry stores. You can create an interactive jewelry shopping experience with the right technology. For example, capturing 360 videos or photos of your jewelry product imitates the in-store engagement experience as it allows shoppers to view the product from all angles, as shown in the 360 jewelry videos above which were all captured using the GemLightbox products.
Further, the last jewelry photo, a vibrant yellow diamond ring photographed using the GemLightbox, used a 360-photography technique, which allows shoppers to control the rotation of the product. This technique does not only demonstrate your jewelry items in a full-360-view, but it also provides a tactile experience by rotating, panning, and zooming.
Using 360 jewelry videos and photos is a must, especially in the time of coronavirus because it enhances shoppers’ jewelry shopping experience by adding interactivity and engagement and eliminating the need to drop by your store to interact with your jewelry items; thereby, lengthening the time they will spend on your website or social media pages.
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- Explore online viewing rooms
When Art Basel Hong Kong got canceled because of the coronavirus, the team behind this international art fair launched a new digital initiative that will allow attendees to view and purchase art collections in online viewing rooms. Jewelers can borrow this idea of digital development and possibly continuously adapt to it to complement future retail activities.
Are you unsure how to showcase your new jewelry collection to your global network of patrons and buyers?
Set up an online viewing room that will enable your patrons and shoppers to browse your beautiful collection and search by design, gems, or metals. Further, remember to put your sales contact number or other means of contacting you for any sales inquiries. Like other luxury events, seduce your shoppers with a preview that is only accessible to VIP clients, if you have any, or loyal shoppers, before officially opening it to the public.
If the process of creating online viewing rooms is complicated for you, there are other alternatives including social media. For instance, you can schedule an Instagram Live where you will present all your new jewelry items and entertain live sales inquiries at the same time. To ensure that your followers will not miss you when you go live on Instagram, post an announcement on your Instagram or Facebook account ahead of your scheduled product presentation.
Online viewing rooms or the offered alternative are a major pathway to your global audiences because it lets you connect to potential shoppers or clients outside of any geographical border.
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2. Create an omnichannel experience
Omnichannel retail provides a fully integrated shopping experience where all channels of sales and marketing – online, brick-and-mortar, and mobile, among many others – are interconnected and unified. The key here is seamless integration. For example, offering all jewelry repairs, alterations, and other services across all channels, allowing customers to browse your collection online, explore it further via your different social media channels, and later, pick up the item in-store.
Another way you can create an omnichannel experience is by adopting a Click and Collect model that enables your shoppers to browse jewelry items online, select what they want, purchase and pay for it online, and then, pick it up in-store. The good thing about this is the ability to schedule the in-store visit so both the jeweler and the shopper can make an adjustment about health and safety rules and avoid crowd shopping
Beaverbrooks, a family-owned jewelry business, is one of the many jewelers adopting this model. They give shoppers the ability to choose and collect the item at any of their jewelry store branches or deliver it to a post office to maintain a no-contact business interaction. Other examples would include engaging with your shoppers across all channels including a seamless interaction with your gem and jewelry experts without them having them drop by at your store to seek expert advice.
An omnichannel retail strategy augments customer-brand experience and Click and Collect solves the lack of tactile experience when shopping online. Meanwhile, a responsive mobile-browsing experience and well-integrated online interaction reduce shoppers’ pain points making them arrive at a favorable buying decision. Above all, an omnichannel experience connects the gap between in-store and online, diversifies the risks in the time of coronavirus, and in the long run, converts your single-channel jewelry buyers to profitable omnichannel jewelry buyers.
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3. Improve your website
If you had been consistently busy before the coronavirus outbreak, now is the perfect time to slow down a bit and divert your energy to improving your online presence, particularly your business website.
Without the normal foot traffic, you are forced to look for other means to reach out to your shoppers to avoid operation stoppage. One of these means is by reaching out to them electronically via your website; therefore, a strong online presence is a must.
A good jewelry website, which entails a rich visual presentation, seamless web navigation, and meaningful overall experience, can help you convert those lost foot traffic to profitable online traffic. When they go to your website, may it be for product browsing only or to buy, your website must be able to understand your shoppers’ needs and make all these buying and product searching activities easier.
Additionally, just because you are not present in-store physically it doesn’t mean that you cannot be present online. Spend time answering questions from potential buyers across all platforms and really engage and interact with them. Work on building a positive customer service experience. You will benefit from it without or without a coronavirus outbreak.
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4. Lastly, be human. Let them know you care
Now, let’s all be realistic. With the “virus-infected” stock market, people might not be in the mood to buy jewelry items because of all the money they’ve lost. Do all the measures you can to keep your jewelry business afloat but don’t forget that everyone – including your potential shoppers – is having a difficult time right now. Avoid being too salesy. Stop and take time to acknowledge what is happening around the globe. They might have people in their lives that are trying to recover from the virus, you just don’t know. So, call your customers or send them a short email letting them know that you think and are concerned about them during this trying time.
Other companies send out an email blast to their customers just to keep them informed of their continuity plans, assure them of their commitment not only to their customers but to the global community, and the measures they are implementing to provide a safe environment for their employees. If you intend to stop all deliveries and operations temporarily, especially if your government enforced a total lockdown, notify them and assure them that you will be back in service as soon as the lockdown is lifted. Stay connected with your customers via your social media accounts and other digital channels. Keep communicating.
How are you preparing your jewelry store for the coronavirus outbreak?
And there you have it!
Protect your business amid the coronavirus outbreak. It’s not too late to plan but don’t panic. Now go and re-strategize and remember, always wash your hands, and be compassionate!