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October 1999

For Your Staff: Selling Timepieces

Updating the Customer

New models can create trade– up sales, but prepare for style envy

Fashion and style are much of what drive watch sales today. At the showcase, you frequently see buying decisions made on sheer good looks. But this reality can present some problems at this time of year.

As the new models enter the showcase for fall and winter, the older styles may still sell well. How do you integrate the old with the new? Here are some tips.

Prepare & Preview

The new watches are likely to be in middle– to lower– priced lines because luxury brands tend to retain a more consistent appearance and are less likely to race to attain fashion status. It's important to know in advance which of these new watches are heading for your showcase so you can discuss them with customers intelligently.

After the spring watch debuts, ask the buyers for your store which brands they ordered for fall and winter and which ones will retain the models already in the showcase.

Once you know for sure which new models are due in for the year– end selling season, let the customers most likely to be interested in them know you'll call or send a reminder to arrange a "preview" showing once they arrive. This makes the customer feel special and shows your interest in his or her satisfaction.

Fashion Changes

Because fashion – oriented watches change faster than classic models, your customer may be concerned a recent purchase – or future one – will be discontinued in a season or two. Assure the customer cosmetic or design changes in new models in no way diminish the value and beauty of what they own.

Also inform the customer you and the manufacturer stand behind the watches. Replacement parts and service will continue so the customer can wear a discontinued watch in confidence and style for years to come.

What's more, suggest he or she look forward to buying a new model now or at some later date. The customer likely favors the brand and can become a good repeat buyer.

Suggest a New Bracelet

Despite the many new watches introduced each year, you won't likely have to create a "sales rack" for last year's models the way apparel retailers sometimes do. That kind of marketing is generally frowned on for watches.

Watch vendors with a vision and a clear image generally present new models that retain a certain harmony with last year's models. They may update the bracelet or dial or change the size or metal type of the case.

If your customers ask whether a watch can be "updated" to look like newer styles, let them know what's possible. Not all older models can be updated. For those that can, suggest a snazzy new bracelet or a "tune– up" that will make the watch sparkle like new.

Increasingly, fashion brands, even some higher– end brands, offer interchangeable bezels, dials and bracelets that dramatically change a watch's look. Several offer diamond dials or bezels that can be added at a nominal fee when the customer is ready to upgrade. Perhaps these are the brands a fashion– directed customer should look at first. If your store has a "trade– up" policy, discuss it at this time.

Be sure you're prepared to talk about these possibilities well before the important end– of– year sales period. Preparing your customers early can make sales smoother as fall arrives.

By Paul White, Watch Division Director, Reis– Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis, IN

Each month Paul White fills this column with tips for sales associates who want to sell more watches. If you have suggestions for topics, questions for Paul or specific examples from your store, send them to Professional Jeweler, 1500 Walnut St., Suite 1200, Philadelphia, Pa., 19102; askus@professionaljeweler.com.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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