Not all designs resonate with customers -- retailers have to come out with strategies to create more innovative and engaging designs that appeal to their target audience, says Priyanka Talreja Garegrat
As consumer preferences evolve, jewellery designs also need to keep pace with changing tastes. Some pieces do not resonate with buyers any more. Retailers have to take that into account and come up with strategies to deal with consumer fatigue.
Neerav Challa, Head of Merchandising and Supply Chain Management at PMJ Gems and Jewels, Hyderabad, notes that customers have shifted away from excessive designs in recent years. "They don't want excess metal or any other raw material. The buyers are moving toward what's light and affordable. People are not going for big diamonds now. They are fine with minus 2 size diamonds too. Customers today are looking for value for money over bulk," he says.
“Different is in” has become the new mantra for many products these days, but this is not true of jewellery. Snehal Choksey from Shobha Shringar Jewellers, Mumbai, says his customers are sticking to classic designs. "Customers are not looking for something very abstract or couture. These pieces are good to see, but no one wants to buy these products. Customers want to stay with the classics and go with the basics," he says.
Adds Akshay Verma of Verma Jewellers, Solan, “These days, customers seek simplicity. They want elegant pieces that have the right mix of elements. Customers are looking for designs that can be used repeatedly, with some variations.”
So, are customers looking for just plain gold pieces? Sunita Agarwal from Kamna Jewellers, Bulandshahr, says, “They don't want yellow-gold jewellery which is commonly seen. The urban consumer has an eye out for more fashionable and smart pieces that offer a mix of precious gems, diamonds, and colours of gold." Agarwal emphasises the importance of offering unique and fashionable pieces that are not commonly available elsewhere.
Harinder Singh Khurana from Sham Jewellers, Chandigarh, has a similar opinion as he has observed that plain gold works less, and customers are drawn to visually attractive pieces that have antique work, jadau, or polki work on them.
Modern customers are moving away from excessive jewellery, and instead looking for lightweight products that offer variations and can be worn repeatedly. Heavy designs are no longer catching their interest. Alternatively, they are not even looking at plain yellow-gold pieces. What works is a perfect blend of stones, diamonds and metal presented in a fashionable and elegant way, offering value for money.
Assisting Customers in Making Decisions
In today's world, customers are bombarded with numerous options and ideas, causing confusion and uncertainty when they enter a store. To ease this, retailers must provide guidance to clear any confusion in a customer's mind. Verma says that instead of forcing a sale, they train their teams to engage with customers, understand their preferences, and offer suitable products.
When customers walk in, they come with certain expectations. Challa says to meet these expectations, his team uses its expertise to show customers not only the product they desire, but also other new and special items. By introducing trending products, customers can explore all options before making a decision.
Oftentimes, all a confused customer needs to see is some new and refreshing designs, Singh says that they combat customer fatigue by showing them the latest designs and a new range of products, allowing them a wider variety.
When dealing with customers who are not sure of what they want, Agarwal's strategy is to move cautiously to avoid pressuring them. “Our approach is to go real slow because we don’t want to push our customer, as one wrong thought can cancel the deal. So, we start by observing what the customers are selecting. We try to keep multiple choices in that budget and then based on the observation, our team sets goals and decides in which direction to move,” she says.
One would think that when a bride goes for her jewellery shopping, she knows just what she wants, but that’s far from the truth. Choksey points out that many brides are uncertain about what they want these days. “Most brides come looking for polki, uncut and end up buying a nice, big bridal diamond set. We help them by keeping in mind the colour of her outfit, her stature and the budget she has set. We also suggest jewellery on the basis of day or night function. For example, for evening cocktails, we suggest tanzanite or something contemporary. Now we have reached a stage where the bride does listen to us,” he says.
Overall, retailers are focused on providing personalised attention and recommendations to help customers make informed and confident decisions in a world with an overwhelming number of choices.
Dealing with Rejection
Jewellers frequently face the challenge of dealing with demanding customers who reject the products shown to them. To overcome this, retailers need to quickly come up with effective solutions. Verma emphasises the importance of personalised customer service and training the team to understand the customer's likes and dislikes. His team goes the extra mile by giving something personalised based on the customer's interests. “Our goal is personalised customer delight, and we are working very hard to offer customers that. Our teams now have been trained to look out for cues in their conversations that strike an emotion. Once we see that spark, we act on it to offer a unique personalised experience to win them over,” he adds.
Explains Agarwal, “Difficult consumers are the ones who approach you with a fixed mindset, having made the choice online. They have seen something on social media and they want something similar, but they have wrongly calculated the budget. They usually don’t share what they are looking for and they keep seeing and rejecting items.” This is when Agarwal's team requests the customer to share the image that they have in mind. Once the team has seen the customer’s choice, they reshuffle the inventory and then present a similar product, in the given budget.
It's challenging but fun to deal with these customers for Choksey. He says he gets to the bottom of the confusion by talking to the customer. “As we keep talking with them, we get to know their likes and dislikes. We also come to know what they have in their portfolio of jewellery so we don't duplicate the pieces they own. We identify what they don't have and make suggestions accordingly.”
Talking about difficult customers, Challa says, “You cannot merely offer salesmanship, as they understand everything, from designs to price to materials. And they have spending power. To please them, we bring out our new and unconventional inventory. This inventory creates an impression in the customer's mind that the jeweller is trying something new and coming up with different concepts. We tell them the story behind these products and try to open their minds to exploring other options.”
By providing exceptional customer service and going the extra mile, retailers are able to turn difficult situations into positive ones and build lasting relationships with their customers.