Professional Jeweler Archive: Preparing for Change

May 2004

Timepieces/Education & Repair

Preparing for Change

Is it time to shake up the showcase a bit? First, reevaluate what's selling

As the spring watch and jewelry shows close and with summer events just ahead, many managers are evaluating their inventories. As at your store, we too are taking a close look at what’s successful, what’s level and what’s slow to sell.

We’re also discovering the vast majority of sales seem to come from the same meat-and-potatoes brands year after year. Now is the time to ask ourselves how we evaluate:

  • What brands to keep.
  • When to let go of underperforming brands.
  • When to add hot brands.
  • How to take advantage of coming trends.

Analyze This

First, analyze why something isn’t selling. Is it poor product, poor marketing, poor support from the vendor or something else? Sometimes it’s a matter of identity crisis – customers and salespeople simply can’t readily identify with the brand. If a salesperson cannot quickly summarize the high points of a brand to locate its image in the mind of the customer, there’s a problem. If the customer can’t grasp the mission of the brand, the problem is compounded.

If you’ve done all you can but you’re still unsuccessful with a brand, it may be time to move on. But remember that to try a new brand, you’ll need dollars and display space. In a time of high inventory levels, many stores are trying to generate more sales from fewer lines and letting go of poor producers.

If you’re going to the shows and you want to add some new products, it pays to do your homework. Talk to trusted colleagues who may carry a line that has piqued your interest. Judge not just on sales but also on similarity of the selling markets of both stores. What sells in Miami may not in Des Moines.

Analyze That

Get all the support you need from a new line. Lay out performance terms explicitly, including expected turn, stock balancing and buy-backs.

Try to get a feel for whether you’re going to pioneer a line, ride the crest of a strong wave or, at worst, catch a brand when it’s cooling down. Keep in mind most brands require a push. Only a select few are asked for repeatedly.

Have courage. Sometimes, it’s necessary to bring on a newcomer to give existing ones a little run for the money. That may be a Darwinian strategy, but it can tell you in short order who the survivor will be! Remember, it’s your strongest brands that bring the most reward. You may indeed discover you can do more with less.

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

Send topic suggestions, questions for Paul or specific examples from your store to

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