No trade shows, no purchasing trips, so many retail shops closed. We talk to some local Australian and New Zealand brands and suppliers about how the industry is looking closer to home and building connections in a time of social distancing.
While consumers in Australia and New Zealand are unable to plan overseas trips or enjoy an active social life, they can still add some sparkle to their lives by purchasing jewellery.
Consumers are suddenly very keen to shop local, so this is an excellent opportunity for local brands and suppliers to attract the attention of a captive market with money to spend. Lene Bentley of David Bentley Jewellery says this is “a
good time to be a local brand.”
“All our retailers have seen an increase in people wanting to support local business, and this will have a flow-on effect for local brands. We have heard of some unusually big sales in some of our stockists’ stores, which have been linked to people being unable to travel, have big celebrations or buy overseas while on holiday.”
Gerri Maunder from Gerrim International says that many retailers are currently experiencing a resurgence in jewellery purchases. “Perhaps in difficult and uncertain times, it has never been more important to treat ourselves to something that holds its intrinsic value and remains timeless.”
Being social without trade shows
The challenge for the jewellery industry is to maintain a thriving network while expanding promotional strategies to find new ways to interact with industry peers and attract customers.
Traditionally, the jewellery trade show has been an ideal meeting place for retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and wholesalers, where they can build insight into the latest developments and popular styles and boost their public profile.
This year, trade shows have all been cancelled, so the industry is looking for new strategies for interaction and promotion through their online platforms.
“This year we haven’t been able to have any events with our retailers due to COVID,” said Lene Bentley of David Bentley Jewellery. “As this hasn’t been possible, we have provided images for our retailers’ websites and social media. We have been using all platforms to communicate with our retailers from emails and phone calls to Zoom meetings.”
David Bentley Jewellery is a high-end Australian boutique jewellery brand, supplying product to exclusive jewellery stores who want to differentiate themselves.
Best-selling lines include Wild Iris, Ebb Tide, Grevillea, Tribute, Nouvelle, Pirouette and Oasis. An upcoming campaign celebrating the company’s 25 years in business will include special offerings for the company’s retailers.
Ron Loccisano at Searay says that his company has been working hard to upgrade their online platform to maintain their relationship with retailers, particularly as retailers are unable to consult with sales reps in many states.
Searay is a jewellery wholesaler, mainly sourcing gold products from Italy, and working with other manufacturers worldwide to supply fine gold jewellery to retailers in Australia and New Zealand.
“During COVID, retailers in many states have been unable to consult with sales reps. To make things easier for them, we have streamlined our online platform and made a big effort to ensure that our entire product range is photographed and available to view online. We have an online ordering system, and after the order is made, goods are shipped and invoiced for payment, just as they would be if the order was placed with a sales rep.”
Searay’s bestselling lines include 9k and 18k Italian chain, along with 9k and 18k diamond jewellery. Their website is split into two categories, enabling retailers to use it as a sales tool with their own clients.
“When retailers don’t have an item in stock, their clients can view our website without wholesale prices being visible, making the ordering system easier and cost-effective for everyone,” Ron said. Ron says they also keep in regular contact with retailers through a weekly email.
“We use this email to showcase popular products, new products, or items which have arrived back in stock. Every couple of weeks we try to design a flexible package of staple bestsellers for purchase at a discount price. Our weekly specials can be viewed online.”
Strength in networks
One of the benefits of building a network is that businesses can support each other through these challenging times. Phil Edwards of Duraflex Group Australia (DGA) says that supporting retailers is an important element of the company brand.
Duraflex Group Australia is a leading importer, distributer and wholesale supplier with a stable of iconic jewellery and watch brands such as Thomas Sabo, Jag and Bronzallure.
As a privately owned and operated company established in 1962, DGA is recognised as a market leader providing first class customer service to the retail jewellery industry in Australia and New Zealand.
“Our existing B2B platform is very user friendly and we have definitely seen a recent uplift in users placing online orders. We are expanding our live links and data access for retail partner online stores, to enable them to view SOH in real time, providing an endless aisle of product.
“We work together on co-op advertising campaigns, leveraging brand creativity. We also share retail partner social media posts via the Thomas Sabo Instagram and others.”
Other support strategies include the option to negotiate extended payment terms and no minimum order quantities for set for new season releases, making it easier for retailers to maintain new stock.
Chris Worth from Worth & Douglas says that continuity of service is important to counteract the current disruptions and restrictions.
“We understand that this has been an unsettling time for our retailers and their customers, so we are working hard to continue to provide the same quality, speed and service they have counted on from us for more than 60 years,” Chris said.
Established in 1953, Worth & Douglas is a family business with offices in Australia, and New Zealand. Regarded as one of Australiasia’s leading wedding brand manufacturers and jewellery wholesalers, Worth & Douglas carry the following brands: W&D Wedding Rings, ZiRO, Karen Walker Jewellery, Lord of the Rings and Memento.
Chris says that the company expanded its social media presence during lockdown, and this has generated new leads for their retailers. “Our website is constantly being updated as we regularly add new product and features. The site is sorted into categories for showcasing the various W&D ring collections, bangles, pendants, earrings and brands.
Retailers can order product and obtain instant quotes in most metals and diamond grades using our Trade Only portal.” “We’re working to support our retailers’ transition into more online-based sales and communication with their customers, by providing imagery and graphics for use across their platforms,” said Chris.
“Our new weekly Tuesday Special offers an extremely good deal on a selected piece each week, and the response to this promotion has been excellent.” Gerri Maunder from Gerrim says that 2020 can be defined as a time of change, which will lead to new ways of doing business.
Gerrim is a local Australian manufacturer and wholesaler, with signature pieces including a freshwater pearl necklace with 9ct bolt ring fittings and an aquamarine and diamond trilogy ring with matching earrings and pendant.
“Our current campaign is the promotion of Gerrim’s latest retail brochure which is offered to all our clients to customise for their use and should they wish to take part we will personalise it with their logo and address details,” said Gerri. “We complement the release of this brochure using Facebook, Instagram and web to enhance the retail experience.”