In today’s changing retail landscape, watch retailers have to do just about anything they can to pull through the market. For some, that means offering other products beside watches. Here we speak to some of the world’s best retailers for their take on the pros and cons of selling other luxury products. Here’s what they had to say.
Managing Director , Hamilton & Inches (Edinburgh, Scotland):
“We are specialists in fine jewellery, silver and gifts along with watches and other timepieces. Our watch brands have always remained one of the strongest areas of our business and we enjoy a good relationship with them and the profile that it provides. Fine jewellery is the other major area of our business and we have incredibly loyal customers who have used us as family jewellers for many years.
Purchasing jewellery tends to be based more on emotion and sentiment. The relationship you have with the purchaser needs to be developed. Our sales team does not press our clients, the sale is made through spending time and developing a trust. With watches, although some sales are made in this way, generally the importance is knowledge, watch buyers are generally looking for the information that will make their particular watch stand out. A watch sale can be a very fast sale. Fine jewellery almost never is.
We are always aware of the quality of a piece. You can be certain of the quality of a watch as it is driven by the brand and the price point.
Our jewellery ranges are the most successful. We carry only the finest gemstones that are all certified by the GIA. Our ethos has remained the same since our beginnings as a retail jeweller, to only sell the very highest quality. We have a dedicated head of department in each of the areas of the business who will do the buying, however they almost never work exclusively. For any new product they will discuss the potential with their peers. Our company has the benefit of over 200 years of knowledge and experience on the sales floor, so nothing is purchased without the input of the sales team.
We are always aware of the quality of a piece. You can be certain of the quality of a watch as it is driven by the brand and the price point. Jewellery, due to its endless variety of design and gemstones with their natural complexities, does not carry the same certainty. We are constantly vigilant of the pieces that we purchase and we never compromise on quality of a piece of jewellery, no matter how stunning.
The benefits of being a jeweller is that you are there for all of the special moments in someone’s life. There is nothing more rewarding than meeting someone who has purchased a special piece of jewellery from us many, many years ago and seeing how important it is to them. It is a privilege.”
Mark Gold Jewellers (Durban, South Africa):
“We have included many other luxury products in our stores over the years. The luxury buyer can only be fed so many watches from a single brand and personally I don’t believe in representing too many brands. An interesting product that we sold, largely because we assisted with the development, was the Espresso Veloce machine. Very interesting and certainly a powerful reaction from the consumer.
Products other than watches have the benefit of keeping clients interested in your store and offerings. They also have the benefit whereby the consumer talks about your store, effectively advertising for you without any output cost.
The Espresso Veloce machine was powerful in so far as it had a very powerful viral marketing effect and also achieved sales. Another popular and interesting product that we stock is the MOKA by Giuliano Mazzuoli. This product along with his watches proved to be very individual. The majority of consumers, in my opinion, are tired of being bombarded with mainstream so called high-end watches. The consumer wants something fresh and individual in the modern world.
I would advise other retailers to choose products that will keep your customers excited and therefore returning to your business.
Retailers need to choose very carefully with their offerings so as to be in keeping with their particular store profile. If this is done correctly it certainly is worth offering alternative products in store. It’s no good everyone selling the same goods though as this only creates a situation where discounting can flourish therefore damaging profitability.
I would advise other retailers to choose products that will keep your customers excited and therefore returning to your business. This also has the natural effect of strengthening client/store relationships. Choose products that you are passionate about. When you have passion and excitement about the product it makes for a much easier sell and the customer then comes back repeatedly.
Choosing product that does not suit your store confuses customers as to what you really are as a brand. If you don’t know then how can the customer relate? The only other advice is to make sure you know enough about your new product and make sure you are able to have the best after-sales for your clients. A happy customer is a repeat customer. Adding new product keeps your store fresh as well as making your sales job exciting and fun as opposed to just an everyday job.”
General Manager, Pisa Orologeria (Milan, Italy):
“This year we launched ‘Lancette’, the first collection of jewellery by Pisa and inspired by our passion for time. The Lancette Collection expresses the passion for watchmaking that has always animated the Pisa family. The hands of a watch are an element that - if properly isolated and projected on a neutral surface or on the dark night sky - is able to indicate a specific moment of Time: a special, unforgettable moment. For this very reason, Lancette represents the most exceptional indicators of Time, they hang from the neck, close to the heart that is the engine of emotions, therefore capturing the moments of joy, of pleasure and sometimes of boredom.
The main difficulty has been to communicate externally that this project does not represent the will to forcefully enter the jewellery business. First of all, the collection originates from the intention to offer a complementary service to our clients, secondly we always underline that ‘Lancette’ is a project related to watchmaking: the only world that Pisa represents.
Through the exploration of accessory services and goods we got closer and closer to our customers’ interests and passions.
Our experience is surely positive: table clocks and pendulum clocks, jewellery, automated storage boxes, vintage pieces and watch straps have given us the possibility to offer something more to our customers. Through the exploration of these accessory services and goods we got closer and closer to our customers’ interests and passions.
They all have been a little success in their own way, because they represented an answer to the eclectic needs of our clientele. This has always represented a core practice for us.
Actually, I think the collection ‘Lancette’ can be considered our most successful complementary project, for three main reasons: it has been immediately praised by our historical customers and by our foreign customers who travel to Milan from China, Russia and the Middle East; second, it has been well received by journalists and the press in general, who appreciate the idea and supported us in the communication process; third, it has been an incredible team building example: the project originated from my mother’s ideas and subsequently supported by several members of our staff, all with different identities and personalities: many comments, much advice, many ideas and a lot of positivity!
We didn’t inform other retailers about this collection, because we did not intend it for mass distribution, but after the launch on May 20th, we have been contacted by some of them to enquire as to the possibility of developing the project. This struck us, and the appraisal from great distribution players and from other retailers has been welcomed with pleasure, and brought in some ideas.
I remember as if was yesterday when in July I was telling one of our customers from Oman how the collection originated and how it was deeply related to my family history, when he smiled and said: “You know Chiara, my jewels are my daughters: they are seven, as the pendants of the collection!” He bought them all!”
CEO, Hole 19 Group, Zakaa Watches (Abuja, Nigeria):
“We are a luxury and lifestyle company and therefore offer a variety of products within different retail environments. Our business currently contains watch and jewellery, fashion and accessories, leather goods, furniture and home fittings. We now have two concept boutiques of over 600 square metres each where all our variety of luxury products are sold, including certain brands of watches.
We also have boutiques that are 200 square metres based on watches; here we sell some jewellery, pens, leather goods, watch winders and luxury phones. Some watch brands are also lifestyle brands, for example TAG Heuer, Montblanc, Davidoff and Montegrappa who all offer a variety of lifestyle products and then you have companies like Chopard, Bulgari, Cartier, who are also strong in a variety of premium lifestyle products.
Our experience has been excellent. You just need to make sure that the balance is correct. We are fortunate as we have different retail environments and can therefore alter the balance from boutique to boutique. We have a boutique at a golf resort where the offering is quite different from our other boutiques.
It’s not so straight forward - we are fortunate because we have the opportunity, as there are not so many luxury retailers in our territory.
Premium ladies leather goods and luxury phones have been our best non-watch items. In general our ratio of female traffic is unfortunately quite low. Women are not as addicted to watches as men so we wanted to find something to really attract them. As you know women love designer handbags, that’s their weakness. 50% of our current sales are for gifts and therefore we have to give our clients solid alternatives. That’s where the luxury phones came into the mix. We regularly sell $10,000 phones.
It’s not so straight forward - we are fortunate because we have the opportunity, as there are not so many luxury retailers in our territory. This cannot be said of London, Paris, New York, Geneva, Zurich, Dubai etc. It is often a function of opportunity. There’s no point trying to sell Vertu phones in your boutique if there’s a Vertu boutique down the road.
Potential problems? There are many pitfalls:
• Getting the brand mix wrong
• Achieving a well-balanced display without butchering the watch offers
• Thinking there’s the opportunity whereas it just doesn’t exist
• Over-stretching finances, one’s self and the company in general.
Where we do have any traffic of tourists but a regular closed pool of high net worth clients, the other products can keep them coming back. It’s not every day they want to buy a watch. In an area where there aren’t a large number of luxury boutiques, the other products can make the retailer the ‘go to destination’.
The mix can also bring in a different group of clients with different interests. In our watch boutique, we now see ladies coming in to buy themselves or their partners luxury phones and we are able to introduce them to the world of Haute Horlogerie.”
Darakjian Jewelers (Birmingham, Michigan, USA):
“Currently we carry winding boxes (Wolf, Orbita, Underwood, Scatola del Tempo), cufflinks (GTO London), wine decanting wands (Philip Stein), pens (Montblanc) and leather goods (Montblanc and Parabellum). In the past, we’ve had many more brands (Pelican, Waterman, Krone). I think these products are a great add-on and peripheral sale. It’s offering another service to the guest who comes in to shop for what they traditionally look for in a jewellery store.
Winding boxes have been our most successful product. It’s an easy transition when so many clients are coming to you already for watches.
We all spend so much money getting a client through the door, offering other products just makes sense. It’s a business - we need to maximize that client. Offering other things that compliment what you stock already does a service to the client. The biggest advice I would have is not to just stock it, but understand the selling points and the way it fits into the mix of what you already offer.
Winding boxes have been our most successful product. It’s an easy transition when so many clients are coming to you already for watches.
Our business involves a great deal of emotion. That plays a big role to me in choosing a peripheral product. First I look at the category and see if it’s something that works for the experience we want the Darakjian Jewelers client to have. Then we look at impression, price and distribution. Those are all key factors in our selection of products.
A potential problem is diluting your focus, but that will only come if the sales professionals don’t really understand the products, know when to propose them and how to deliver the same experience that you want your clients to have. The biggest benefit is being the one source for the client. In today’s world with all the different messages coming from the five traditional medias (TV, print, radio, billboards, direct mail) and the numerous social media and email tactics, we all need a way to differentiate our stores from the competition.”
Alon Ben Joseph,
CEO, Ace Jewelers (Amsterdam, the Netherlands):
“At Ace Jewelers we retail the following product categories: watches, jewellery, loose diamonds, leather goods, writing instruments, sunglasses, mobile phones, silver tableware and watch winders. And, we have recently started focusing on so-called ‘wearables’ like smart watches.
We have had a good experience selling luxury accessories other than wristwatches as it creates synergies for us as a retailer and for the consumer. Consumers have a trust relationship with their jewellers, hence they want more than just wristwatches.
The most successful non-watch products in our boutiques have been writing instruments, sunglasses and watch winders. Watch winders are a logical choice for consumers to seek at jewellers that sell high-end mechanical watches. Consumers that love mechanical watches will also appreciate hand-made writing instruments, like a high-end Montblanc fountain pen. And, in the past jewellers in the Netherlands were opticians too. This changed after WWII, but three years ago we added premium sunglasses brands to our collection in one of our boutiques that focuses on entry-level Swiss watch brands and fashion watch brands. All developed well and consumers find it a natural fit.
We advise our colleagues to definitely reconsider their futures as consumer behaviour is changing drastically. Retail therefore is changing rapidly. On top of that there are many external threats, of which the most important are brands taking over retail distribution from independent jewellers and the rise of smart watches and wearables. So, as jewellers we need to think what our role will be in the near future in the changed landscape. There are also many opportunities in this evolution.
The most successful non-watch products in our boutiques have been writing instruments, sunglasses and watch winders. Watch winders are a logical choice for consumers to seek at jewellers that sell high-end mechanical watches.
We choose the products we carry according to the following principles: first of all we check if the they are of high quality; then we check if they add to our current portfolio of brands. We need to make sure the after-sales service is as good as ours, so we can maintain our high level of service. And, last but not least, would we buy it ourselves as a consumer and do we have fun selling it?
The potential problems are that if you branch out too much, your business/boutique could have an identity crisis. We have a big trend of specialization where boutiques are only selling one brand, but it seems that consumers do not want a world with solely mono-brand boutiques. The DNA of shoppers is that they love to browse and be amazed and entertained. _ Selling more than just watches adds to your own brand. You have the chance to attract more customers and re-invite old customers. Make sure to keep your return on investment in mind, however. The margins are so slim on electronics (mobile phones and wearables), that jewellers are not set-up for these low margins. Electronic vendors are used to huge volumes and jewellers aren’t.”
Source: Europa Star October - November 2014 Magazine Issue