Search for a New Brand
Begin with an in-store survey then check the market
If youre in the market for a new watch brand, where do you begin your search?
Its not a completely a scientific process. Emotions, strong visual appeal and personal relationships all come into play. Youll experience these factors if you attend the watch shows later this month in Basel and Geneva, Switzerland. At the shows, or during personal visits by brand representatives, you can see whats new and get the answers to any of your concerns. But as with any buying decision, there is risk. Your job is to determine what is a manageable risk.
Hot, Not Hype
Find out whats really hot, not whats really hype. Talk to jewelers from other regions who already offer the brand youre considering; try to get an honest appraisal of sales. (Be sure to choose retailers who have similar markets, customer bases and products.)
If the response from other retailers is positive, consider how the brand will fit with your existing lines. Do you have customers who will be interested in the brand or will you have to develop a customer base for it?
Regarding suppliers, can you get a good opening order, one that wont affect return on investment? What special accommodations can you arrange with suppliers, including marketing and promotional assistance? This is when your negotiation strategies are important.
Diamonds and Complications
Should you consider different types of watches than youve carried previously perhaps diamond or fashion watches even though you dont have experience with them? You probably already sell diamond jewelry, so diamond watches would simply be an extension that could interest an existing customer base.
If you sell fine timepieces but have avoided a complicated timepiece because of price, consider this: You may be selling watches already priced on a par with complications.
Dont sell your customers short. Expand their horizons and your own by stretching your selection of fine timepieces.
Check with your sales associates frequently to see whether they receive a lot of requests from consumers for a watch brand you dont carry now. If a brand is in demand, its worth exploring.
Also, be aware of your competition. You might decide its time to make a strategic move to consolidate certain lines in your market.
Proceed with Caution
With the dollars new lines demand, you should proceed cautiously. Try to determine whether you want to expand with new lines or make larger commitments to those you carry already.
Whatever your decision, proceed in a way that is consistent with your marketing and fiscal philosophy. Remember, getting out is a lot tougher than getting in.
Paul White, Watch Division Director, Reis-Nichols Jewelers, Indianapolis, IN
Each month Paul White fills this column with tips for retailers 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; firstname.lastname@example.org.