The Retail Experience

How to stay one step ahead

You’ve undoubtedly heard the buzzword “retail experience” by now, which refers to what stores can do to take shopping beyond, well, simply an everyday experience. People still prefer shopping in-store for jewelry—where they can touch and try on—rather than buying online, but it takes more than great merchandise and smart pricing to win today’s savvy customers. Creative strategies that take in-store shopping to the next level will keep loyal fans coming back and give new ones a reason to pop in.

We know that more and more people are shopping online these days, but thankfully (and perhaps surprisingly, for some) when it comes to jewelry, customers are still more comfortable with shopping in-store—though that can (and seems to be always, changing). So how can you make a visit to your store engaging, exciting, and memorable? We asked jewelers to share the innovative, interactive strategies they use to bring “experiential retail” to life. For some, it’s as simple as serving freshly baked cookies. For others, it means live entertainment and in-store recreations of Antiques Roadshow, where shoppers can have pieces appraised.

“After exciting feedback from last year’s show, we are thrilled announce another addition to our enticing events schedule: “Instore Experience”. This year you will have the opportunity to be inspired by unique ideas designed to enhance the customer journey when they shop in person at your retail store. Some highlights you can expect to see include a Dry Bar, Flower Crowns, Cupcake Wars and even more surprises!” —Kate Nellis, Director of Special Events and Conference, JCK

“Joint Venture Jewelry prides itself on its customer experience. When clients walk into our store, they are greeted as if they are part of our family. We enjoy going above and beyond to get to know our clients and their pieces of jewelry, along with the sentimental significance of each piece. Not only does our customer service motto elevate our client’s experience, but we also enjoy bringing in extra special collections—not part of our normal vintage, estate consignment goods—for limited-time shows or events. A favorite is our Annual Vintage Jewelry Show, which we’ve hosted every fall for over 15 years. We host about four to six of these limited-time shows every year, each with a slightly different focus. This August marks our 20th anniversary, and to celebrate we are hosting a Roaring Twenties–themed VIP cocktail party to kick off a high-end estate collection with many designer pieces for a three-day only show. We find it vital to the success of our family brick-and-mortar jewelry shop to create draws like these events. With the trend of online shopping at an all-time high, these in-store-only experiences keep our clients coming back time and time again.” —Jennifer Hankin, Joint Venture Jewelry, Cary, NC

“Before you have the tricks, the entertainment, the music, the wine, and the food, you need to have engaging and interesting jewelry. Most higher-end retailers rely too heavily on ‘designers’ for such inspiration and thus lose their own identity. Many are no longer merchants, but instead have become system analysts. We carry a very eclectic inventory that includes estate and antique jewelry, contemporary European jewelry, made-in-the-U.S.A. bridal jewelry, and access to CAD design. Thus we have a flexibility that brands often don’t have. We also have a wide range of price points, beginning at $5 and going to $50,000-plus.” —Penn Fix, Dodson’s Jewelers, Spokane, WA

“Today, creating a positive retail experience is possibly the only competitive advantage that you have. We strive every day to exceed our clients’ expectations—the devil is in the details. One simple strategy we use is to offer to deliver every repair job that comes out of the shops. Since we do more than 500 repair jobs a month, it makes a real statement about our level of service. The interesting part of this strategy is that nine out of 10 say no and swing by to pick it up themselves, but the impression that we go out of our way for our clients has been made.” —Mark Moeller, R.F. Moeller Jeweler, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

“Our store has a 10 x 10 foot Kid’s Kastle in one corner. There is a seven-foot-tall knight guarding the door! Kids and parents alike love this space. Everyone gets offered a drink when they come in the front door—our small fridge is on the sales floor, so it’s quick and handy, and we often have home-baked cookies from my wife. We walk everyone to the door when they are done and open the door for them. These are small things that hopefully stick in their minds.” —Tom Hill, Thomas Hill Jewelers, Hinesville, GA

“We recently did a total remodel, and certainly did take into account the comfort and the experience of the shopper. New lighting along with colors, fabrics, carpet, music, and scents add to the environment we are striving to attain for our clients. In the future we will continue to add other amenities and activities to further our mission.” —Richard Saxon, R.E. Saxon Jeweler, Weirton, WV

“We are hoping to have some events away from the store to create an experience rather than the typical trunk shows. Last year, we gave away treasure bags where each bag contained goodies and a gemstone. Some of the recipients created a custom piece of jewelry the same night. We also had an event where we had a local estate jewelry buyer come to the store and had our own version of Antiques Roadshow. We packed the store and ran out of wine and food. Customers have sent emails and called to ask about our next estate event! So far this year, we have had one event—a launch party for the Les Georgettes pendants and rings. It was a good crowd, and the price points started at $39.” —Maria Aguirre, Benold’s Jewelers, Austin, TX

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