The New Abnormal
Times, they are a changin’ – that was true when Bob Dylan released his album in 1964 and is even more so now, especially in the world of retailing. Having just returned from JCK Las Vegas, the largest US jewelry event of the year, it is apparent that the dynamics in retailing are impacting not only mature brands, but new marketplace entries as well. Those organizations that can adapt are more likely to be successful, even when confronted by changes in the market. The effective use of technology will play a big role.
Watch and jewelry retailing has been impacted by the introduction of smart watches, a decline in the independent jeweler, margin pressure and an increase in online purchases. Many brands are converting to new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems and some are using mobile app technology, such as GoSpotCheck, to leverage their investment in field personnel to monitor their reps or merchandisers, and give management real-time insight into what is happening (or not happening!) at store level. Images captured at store level will be critical in giving the full picture of trends and sudden changes. The key in using the technology is not to replicate or just make efficient what is already being done, but to take advantage of the capabilities to yield real and actionable business intelligence.
Excellence in retail merchandising is becoming more and more important as consumers are making decisions in store based upon brand image and how the product appears. This Research Offline Purchase Online (ROPO) phenomenon is a paradigm shift in retailing. Brands and retailers must recognize this change and never lose their focus on how the product is displayed to consumers.
It will be a challenging year for the watch and jewelry industry. Technology-enabled organizations that are nimble and can rapidly react to changes in the retail environment will fare the best. Who will take bigger slices of a shrinking pie? Time will tell.