Traffic is Down, or Is It?

Jeff Gordon
Aug 9, 2018

The refrain we most often hear from retail jewelers today is that traffic is down. How do I get more people into my store? 

 The only way you’ll know is to take counts of actual traffic in and out of your store, and to closely monitor your number of transactions, including repairs, and see what your trends tell you. While you’re at it, take special note of who buys and what they buy, who sells and what they sell, and especially each salesperson’s close rate. All these analytics are at your fingertips if you have a point of sale system, and will help you assess where the needs are. You’ll even be surprised to see that your best salespeople only make one or two sales a day (other than repairs). They need to be calling and emailing clients every day to stimulate traffic and sales when there otherwise wouldn’t be any. We take great pride in our capture of addresses and email addresses, often as many as 50% of the purchasers will be from new customers who never stepped foot inside your store previously.

But why might traffic be down? There are several key reasons. One is that (and this is no bulletin!) all of us are buying more stuff online today, and jewelry of various price points is no exception. According to some reports, as many as half of all U.S. households are Amazon Prime subscribers. While this alone doesn’t signal the demise of walk-in traffic and traditional retail, it does signal a wave-change in consumer purchasing, and retailers need to take note of it.

Mall traffic is most certainly down and this is a function of being over-malled and over-retailed, as well as lifestyle changes and a desire for more and better experiences. Again, it should be no bulletin to you that Millennials, Gen Xers, and even Baby Boomers want more unique experiences when shopping, dining, exercising, traveling, recreating, and otherwise living life to the fullest. Malls are currently changing to become destinations for unique eating and lifestyle experiences, not merely places to go to shop. A wave change is definitely taking place.

So what is the answer for upscale retail jewelers? It’s creating a better experience for customers, and I don’t just mean better customer service. Everyone says they give great customer service. There needs to be more than that today. You need the right store location and the right sized store, the right mix of merchandise and maybe a few key brands, the right niche in your community, a consistent quality experience for customers, and salespeople who don’t just wait for customers to walk in. They need to get them in and know what to do with them when they are in. And if you’re an owner, you still need to work hard, and moreover, you need to work smart. Competitors are going out of business around you, so even this creates an opportunity. Someone is going to have to sell them jewelry, and it may as well be you.

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