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September, 1999

Precious Metals & Bench: News

Stuller's Stand

Manufacturers can do a lot to contribute to their retail customers' success, says Matt Stuller

Why Should You Care About Suppliers' Corporate Methods?

In August, Professional Jeweler published the first in an occasional series examining innovative
corporate methods of progressive jewelry manufacturers.
Because of greater competition and new demands of the marketplace, retailers need suppliers who can respond quickly to change. Your reputation rests in part on the quality of the companies that supply your products.

Knowing how a supplier trains its employees, chooses its own suppliers, relates to customers and keeps up with technology will help you choose wisely in the new millennium.

Meeting retailers' needs in the 21st century is critical to a manufacturer's success, Matt Stuller, Stuller Settings CEO, said in an address at the Gemological Institute of America's International Gemological Symposium in San Diego, CA, in June. The Lafayette, LA, company is widely respected for its commitment to its customers.

If manufacturers help jewelers become more profitable through a high level of customer service, they generate customer loyalty and satisfaction. The manufacturers stay strong and the retailers flourish.

Highlights of Stuller's views on how a manufacturer supports its retailers:

  • Provide just-in-time inventory. This service is critical in our "I want it yesterday" culture. "It's crucial not to disappoint a retailer's customer," he said. u Understand jewelers' needs. Stuller suggests manufacturers hold focus groups and listen to retailers to truly understand their daily challenges.
  • Look at creating brands. Stuller said retailers may need help from name-branded goods, so he's looking into providing such products.
  • Don't compete. "Manufacturers should not compete with jewelers by selling retail themselves," Stuller told an approving audience.
  • Deliver on or before the date promised.
  • Have a liberal return policy. Manufacturers can work through most retailers' returns and come up with a solution that satisfies both without penalizing the retailer, he said.
  • Take responsibility for complete delivery. This includes being capable of shipping directly to a retailer's customer if that's called for, complete with the retailer's labels.
  • Don't have minimum orders. Every sale should be crucial.
  • Stock low-profit items. Sometimes this merchandise is essential to a manufacturer's ability to take care of a retail customer.
  • Deal with special orders. Jewelers are among the last retailers who operate tailor-made businesses. Manufacturers who can support custom orders will be successful.
  • Make it easy and fun to do business. Whether it's confirming orders on-line for tech-savvy customers or a friendly, helpful, service-oriented telephone fulfillment office, quick cordiality is key.
  • Support retailers' sales efforts with good catalogs, sales literature and electronic services, such as CD-ROMs.
  • Provide marketing support. Create campaigns and programs that are easy for retail customers to use.

    by Peggy Jo Donahue

    Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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