Keep Up with the World
Information is todays hot currency what people read affects where they shop and buy. Jewelers can keep up quickly with these simple steps
Angolan conflict diamonds. Synthetic moissanite. Synthetic diamonds. GE/POL. High-pressure/high-temperature treatments. These are important issues; how much do you know about them? Do they affect you and your customers?
They do affect you. Moreover, they affect your customers, many of whom are information junkies and may know details about the jewelry industry before you do if you dont actively search for information and stay current.
Even on a good day, its hard to keep up with the operations side of business, deal with your staff and work with customers. On top of all this, jewelers must be forward-thinking about what the future will bring and your place in it. Will todays news change the way you stock your store or sell to customers tomorrow?
Current Events Are a Must
Today, more than ever, a current events mindset is vital. You have to know whats happening today to plan wisely for tomorrow. Its vital because customers may walk into your store armed with todays breaking news, and it may affect how and what they buy from you. It certainly will affect the questions they ask and the answers they want to hear. Are you prepared?
Where do you look for information? Each jeweler may prefer different sources, but there are certain places that consistently have valuable information. Just being alert and staying current is a good place to start. Here are some specifics:
1. Mail from associations. Each industry association you belong to has a mission to keep you informed. Do you read the information they send to you? Do you route it to others in your store? You cant be the only source of information for your customers, unless youre a one-person operation. Share the knowledge and make sure your sales associates, managers and bench jewelers know why its important to share with your customers. In fact, customers are more comfortable in stores where the sales associates can answer any of their questions.
2. Trade magazines. These are easily the most comprehensive source of information relevant to you. Read them, then route them around your store. You can search archives at the magazines Web sites to catch up on all the news thats occurred over the past year or so.
3. Newspapers/TV. As always, these are vital, familiar sources. You probably have favorite broadcasts to catch up on world, national and local news. Of course, you can watch CNN and other 24-hour news station to catch up on the world news any time of day.
4. The Web. For those of you with Internet access and limited time, online sources may be the easiest, fastest way to see whats happening in the jewelry community and beyond. Start narrow and broaden your scope. Depending on how many articles catch your eye and how fast you read, this can take as little as 10 minutes. Start with industry news most major industry magazines post news stories on a regular basis. If you log on to www.polygon.net, for example, youll see headlines from the top three industry magazines online.
Move on to your local news most of your local TV stations and newspapers have Web sites.
Then proceed to national and international sites such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. If something controversial is going on, you might log on to a search engine such as Yahoo, type in the subject and see where it leads you. Major newspapers and news-intensive sites will tailor news to fit your interests; for example, you could ask them to let you know about news concerning diamonds. They do the searching and deliver the results to you on a regular basis.
Bookmark sites you like and visit them each day. Or make your favorite site your default Web browser, meaning you start at that site anytime you log on to the Internet.
5. E-mail newsletters. Theyre free, relevant and come to you with no hassle! You can subscribe to most trade magazines e-mail newsletters at their Web sites. And if youd like to join Jewelers of Americas new industry newsletter, simply send an e-mail requesting a subscription to firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. Jewelry friends. Someone in your circle of jewelry friends is an information junkie. He or she always knows whats coming up next in the industry and is ready for anything. Make a mental note of this person and keep in touch. Think of this person as your shortcut to information, and dont forget to stay current yourself so it becomes an information exchange.
7. Local JA affiliate events and trade shows. Your local JA affiliate has great education programs. We spend a lot of time and money making sure classes and speakers are relevant and timely and that all of our 42 affiliates have top-notch education programs. For more information, call (800) 223-0673 for your local affiliate contact. In addition, most trade shows you attend have an accompanying education program. Plan around it it not only keeps you informed, but also helps you to better target your buying when youre in the know about fashion, trends and treatments. Best of all, these programs usually are given free!
The topics in the opening paragraph, by the way, have been addressed by Jewelers of America Updates mailed to members beginning in October 1999. Reprints are available while supplies last. Please contact JA at (800) 223-0673 to request your copies.
by Caroline Stanley
Caroline Stanley is a third-generation jeweler who now serves as director of marketing and communications at Jewelers of America.