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Three key things to consider when choosing your jewellery supplier

I remember some seven years ago conducting a questionnaire on behalf of Marjo and one of the questions was “In the next year do you intend to increase the number of silver suppliers”. In the majority of cases (over 50%) the answer was “Yes”. Also, the number of silver suppliers supplying retailers was already over 5. Well, how seven years have changed the market. The same question asked now would be under 3 suppliers and there are certainly no plans for increasing the number of suppliers. The world has changed.

Now that the world is a different place, what would be the criteria that people choose their suppliers on, particularly new ones. From a silver jewellery supplier’s perspective there should be three criteria:

1. Jewellery range and price. There is no doubt that under difficult market conditions value for money is the name of the game. No matter who you are as a supplier, the customer is very aware and keen to look for the best price. A good supplier therefore offers value for money to its customers and also a range of jewellery that is sufficiently broad to cover all the retailers’ needs.

2. Trust & Service. This is such a tired and misconceived word. Everybody seems keen on saying that they provide a good service and then when it comes to the reality of things, there is a massive disappointment. Service means people will go the extra mile to ensure they satisfy your needs. Whether it is getting an urgent order out that same day or looking for that piece of jewellery which is already eliminated, but one might be lying about. Service is a quiet and very important criterion.

3. Congeniality. Life is simply too short to do business with people you don’t enjoy doing business with. There are too many options about and the power is all with the customer, as we live in a demand based economy. One does not have to suffer on and contend with unpleasant people: even if they’ve got desirable goods. Nowadays all goods are replaceable and there are options available on each front. Therefore don’t suffer on and choose wisely.

A small business is a way of life

There is no doubt that those businesses which are deemed successful and are small have not been created by accident. There are many types of business ranging from retail to printing and wholesale but all of them have a common link if they are successful: they have behind them someone driving and pushing and betting on them. So what are the elements that lead to success?

Big Idea

First of all the business needs to have a concept that is sustainable. There is nothing new under the sun, but if a business is to succeed it need to be differentiated from its competitors or have a lot of money to support it. The idea can almost be anything but it needs to be different and exclusive to the business.

It can be a specific way of providing service, or a specific range of products or unique cost base. Whatever it is, it’s got to be exclusive and it can’t be replicated easily, but above all the owner needs to be aware of it and make it better.

Passion

The person or people who run it need to be passionate about it. This emotion and feeling cannot be transient and superficial. It needs to be wholehearted. Sometimes things will not go according to plan (sod’s law) no matter what one does to influence the outcome. It is in those occasions that the passion will come through and carry the whole thing forward. Passion is a funny thing but, in the context of a business, it is the overwhelming feeling that whatever is thrown at the business it will go forward and will be successful.

Hard Work

As someone who has made the transition from corporate life to small business, it is an overwhelming truth that hard work is involved. The business does not ask for your hard work, not does anybody ask for your hard work. But it is a surreptitious thing that the long hours creep in.

One can deceive oneself that because “you are your own boss” you will be able to keep your own time: well you won’t. Your time is the business, and that is where a way of life comes in. You have got to be passionate to invest so much of your time into it.

A little bit different……..

If only I would receive a penny for the times I have heard ‘I like it because it is a little bit different’. There is no doubt that independent retailers are under enormous pressure from a number of different fronts and there is a relentless quest to be distinctive and different in order to attract customers and sales. However, what if we argued that being different for the sake of being different actually increases the risk of doing business?

Let’s assume an experienced retailer who knows his customers well is constantly changing his stock in order to achieve that ever sought objective of being different. One could argue that seeking that objective per se runs the risk of potentially changing the character, feel, look, appeal or product portfolio to the point of alienating regular customers. The customers could lose the sense of what ‘the shop is all about’. We all visit shops with a pre-determined idea of what it is we are likely to find in it. If we constantly change without a strategic core to what we do, we can suddenly find ourselves in a different ‘planet’ without knowing it.

Normally the large and most professional organisations test all changes or new product entries in order to avoid mistakes. As it is the rule of thumb is that only 2 or 3 new products in10 are successful and the others are failures. Clearly, independent retailers do not have the luxury of testing, measuring and reviewing results. However, we would advocate that the pursuit of changing for changing sake is significantly more risky than sticking to one route and then optimising it to its best or until it is decidedly inappropriate.

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