365 Days and Counting: A Pandemic Reflection

I can no longer get my mind to lock in on exactly when I became aware of a new virus in the world. It must have been around February of 2020, and it seemed far away from me and us. Our 50th anniversary year started off in a great direction with your support, and then, as the news grew darker everything stopped. On March 23, 2020, Stuller closed its doors in compliance with the state of Louisiana’s “stay at home” order. We all wondered what was next, what we could touch, where we could go, and when things would return to normal.

From March 23rd forward we began to plan how we could get back to serving our customers ASAP. Stuller changed its everyday functions: temperature checks, face masks, social distancing, sanitizing all spaces (over and over) to create a safe environment for our associates. Once we all adapted to the “new normal,” we were hit with not one, but two major hurricanes.

But we did not let that stop us.

We worked hard, adapted, and overcame every obstacle in our path. Stuller associates never lost hope. In fact, these tribulations have only caused us to grow stronger as a family and stronger as a community. Knowing that packages never stopped going out, orders continued to be filled, and we served you each day — brings us the deepest satisfaction of all.

They say the darkest hours are just before dawn. I witnessed the truth of that statement firsthand. As a company we persevered, and because of that, we are only more hopeful, strong, and eager to work toward the future. Along the way, we learned new skills and new ways of getting things done to become a better company. Without you, we would not have made it through these trying times. It is truly a good feeling knowing our customers stand by our side through thick and thin. You can always count on us!

We are all blessed to be a small piece of an industry that makes the world a better place. With joy and gratitude, we thank you for allowing us to be part of that journey with you.

Danny Clark

President
Stuller Inc.




Designing Your Holiday Experience

Welcome to the first post in our weekly Holiday Learning Series! For the next several weeks leading into to the critical holiday shopping season, our experts at Stuller are bringing resources, tips, new products, and more to you via a livestream webinar on our Facebook page. Along with each livestream will be a blog post where we dive into the concepts discussed and provide helpful links talked about online.

We hope you’ll join us over the next few weeks and remember that Stuller is here for you as a resource during this joyful, but busy season. Feel free to ask questions during the livestreams or contact our customer care team.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our first Holiday Learning Series topic — Designing Your Holiday Experience!



What’s at stake?

The holiday shopping season is here, and you’ll want to do everything you can to be prepared. While there is so much for you to plan, such as inventory, sales strategies, and shipping, one of the first things you need to consider is your customer’s experience.

The stakes are pretty high. During the months of November and December, total sales in the U.S. jewelry industry equal up to approximately $22 billion or 19% of the year’s sales. Additionally, about 16% of engagements occur in the month of December. With these months being so crucial to annual revenue, you must keep your customer’s experience top of mind.

in store customer experience

What is an experience?

According to Ben Gerarve, Stuller’s director of customer experience, “A customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom-line including revenue.”

By focusing your marketing efforts on creating experiences, you’re creating a story around your brand that your customers can share. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Give them something to talk about.

How do I build an experience?

In order to build a unique and personal experience for your shoppers, you should understand the 3 stages of holiday selling.

  • Stage 1 (November 22 – December 5): The self-purchaser is taking advantage of new deals to get the perfect item for themselves at a price they aren’t normally able to find.
  • Stage 2 (December 6 – December 14): The consumer is likely shopping for gifts for family and friends.
  • Stage 3 (December 14 – December 24): The impulse buyer is looking for last minute gifts and just wants to make sure they have something to give to those they love.

Next, you need to know the best method to service your guest. It is crucial to stay up to date on current technology to make sure you’re able to provide your customers what they need, at the time they need. These methods can include email, phone, store visits, virtual visits, social media, and more.

Finally, it is imperative that you take the approach of “Each Guest, Every Time.” Treat every day like opening day and communicate to your guests with the same care and attention you would give to someone on the first day of your business.

customer experience

Prepping for the Holidays

Ask yourself questions regarding your store to understand the customer’s impression. What is the store aesthetic? How does it look? How does it feel? How does it smell? Everything in your store plays into the customer experience. The proof is in the details.

The holidays can bring a lot of stress, but we know that we do it so as to make our customers feel merry and bright. We are here to take some of that stress away. If you’d like to talk to a member of our customer experience team, call us from 8:00am – 7:00pm Central Time or on Saturdays leading up to Christmas Eve from 10:00am – 4:00pm Central Time at 1-800-877-7777.


You can view Stuller Director of Customer Experience Ben Gerarve’s presentation during our Facebook Live Holiday Learning Series. You can find his presentation on our Facebook page here.


View other Stuller blog posts you might find helpful in prepping to elevate your customers’ holiday shopping experience.

Experiential Retail: Tips to Making a Memorable Sale

3 Fundamentals for Small Business Saturday Success




Experiential Retail: Tips to Making a Memorable Sale

According to Salesfloor, Millennials view shopping as a social event to be seen as a fun and relaxing activity shared with family and friends. At a time in retail where e-commerce is a rising and significant force in the industry, it is crucial to identify the purchasing traits of the generation that is up-and-coming with the largest buying power of any other consumer.

For a brick and mortar store, in order to compete with online retail and to attract the attention of these millennial buyers, you must find a way to stand out. In the world of a global health pandemic when online sales are drastically rising, finding creative solutions to establishing that personal connection during the buying experience is essential. One strategy many successful jewelers are investing in is experiential retail.

What is Experiential Retail?

experiential retail
dianna rae jewelry
assisting a customer
Photo Credit: Dianna Rae Jewelry

To put it simply, experiential retail pertains to the parts of the shopping experience that lie outside of the specific good or service being purchased. The concept places the focus on the fact that a customer isn’t simply buying an item, they are buying an experience or a memory. In the jewelry industry, we understand that what we sell comes with emotion and memories. Those feelings extend to the act of buying as well.

What Does Experiential Retail Look Like?

Experiential retail is all about enhancing the shopping experience for the customer, whether that be a singular event or an ongoing facet of your sales strategy. Here are a couple examples of what our customers are doing to make their customers have a memorable time and some creative suggestions on how you might adapt keeping health concerns in mind.

Special Events

experiential retail
gemstone round table
dianna rae jewelry
Photo Credit: Dianna Rae Jewelry

A great option to elevate the shopping experience is to host an interactive event where your customers have more hands-on involvement while making a purchase. In 2020, events have started to look a little different. Many of us are used to virtual interactions that allow us to enjoy an experience from the comfort of our own homes. So what can we do?

For example, in the past, Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, LA held regular round table events where customers were invited to a local restaurant to view a large selection of gemstones guided by an expert to discuss the features of specific gems. Once customers perused their options, Dianna Rae and her team created a specially designed piece using the unique gemstone the customer chose to show it off to best effect. You can read more about Dianna Rae Jewelry and their round table events in this issue of From the Bench.

experiential retail
gemstone roundtable
dianna rae jewelry
Photo Credit: Dianna Rae Jewelry

Making an event like this socially distanced is easier than you might think. Try holding a virtual happy hour guided by the gemstone expert or make the event more exclusive with a smaller guest list that allows for appropriate and safe indoor gathering.

Events like these are successful because you are educating your customer in a social and fun way that establishes an emotional connection to the item.

In-Store Enhancements

Events can be effective tools in making the buying experience special for the customer, but you can also make adjustments to the everyday shopping experience that are unique and memorable. Navigating occupancy restrictions and making the shopping experience personal while being socially distant can be tricky. However, with some creativity, we can always find a solution!

experiential retail
customer assisting in the casting process
goldmine designs
Photo Credit: Goldmine Designs

Prior to COVID, Goldmine Designs in Seattle, WA brought the customer into the manufacturing process as they allowed customers to assist in casting their own piece of jewelry. With such a personal experience came the opportunity to share that with others. Not only could the customer help craft the piece, they were encouraged to bring family and friends to watch with complementary snacks. At this point, customers were no longer customers. They were part of the Goldmine Designs family. To learn more about the distinctive experiences Goldmine Designs have been providing their customers, view our blog post Casting in Seattle: An Experience Like None Other.

Approaching an experience like this while remaining safe and healthy is still possible today if proper precautions are taken. However, if you prefer offering a less hands-on experience, there are two other aspects of this tale you can learn from and implement in a socially distanced manner: the shared social experience and the complementary additions.

Consider adding a decorative wall and good lighting where customers can take quality pictures to share with family and friends on social media. Also, never underestimate the power of the free gift with (or even without) purchase. The priority should be to provide the customer with an emotional – and even physical – token of their visit that puts you top of mind when making their next purchase.

What Should I Do?

If you’re looking to take your sales to the next level, think of something special you can do to add to the overall customer experience that leaves them with a unique memory. Invite customers to an event, offer something exclusive and complementary in your store, etc.

In the age of a worldwide pandemic, events and other sales methods that involve close proximity may not be as possible as they once were – at least for the time being. Be extra creative to find ways to enhance the jewelry buying experience. Consumers are accustomed to virtual interactions through text, emails, and video calls, even when it comes to making purchases. So how do you plan to make this experience different?

Whatever direction you choose, remember that the goal is to make sure the customer has an experience they won’t forget.




We're Here-For-You-Header

We Are Here to Help: Stuller is Still Shipping

We are receiving inquiries about delivering packages to areas that may be closed due to COVID-19.

During this time, our shipping carriers such as FedEx and UPS are still in operation and we plan to continue to send out your orders as promised.  If you have made the decision to close your business as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus or your local government has mandated a closure and you would like for us to hold your orders, we can set up your account to do so.  To request this, please call 800.877.7777 and select option 3.

Stuller is open and operational for all of your needs through our normal channels of chat, phone, and email.  To stay updated on Stuller’s action plans regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus, please visit Stuller.com and click on the banner at the top of the page.

 




Danny Clark A Letter from our President header

Stuller Update on COVID-19 Actions

Dear Stuller Customers,

At Stuller we value the long bond between our customers and associates. In the last two weeks we have undertaken a number of initiatives designed to protect the welfare of everyone connected through us in the jewelry industry.

As a business partner and employer, we understand how important it is for us to be able to serve and respond to multiple needs during this trying time. We are actively managing our supply chain, manufacturing lead times, and distribution capabilities and are ready to deliver the reliability that you count on us for. As long as the news continues to evolve at a rapid pace we will keep you informed as to our actions here at Stuller.

What We Are Doing: 

  • We have formed a COVID-19 task force to closely monitor information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) as well as other federal, state, and local agencies.  We want to ensure our actions are consistent with the latest guidance provided by the CDC, LDH and other authorities.
  • We are encouraging proper hygiene among all Stuller associates and any visitors we may have. Hygiene reminders, containing CDC workplace recommendations, are also posted and on our video monitors throughout our facilities.
  • Hand sanitizer stations and wipes have been placed at all entry points and throughout our facilities.  We are also conducting a facility-wide air filter change and continuing to introduce fresh air into our workplace.
  • We are reducing associate travel to only those absolutely essential meetings.  Stuller customers and associates are encouraged to utilize video conferencing and other technologies to conduct/ attend off-premises meetings and conferences.  Internally, associate meetings are limited to no more than 10 attendees, with only necessary persons present.
  • If any associate or visitor displays symptoms of coronavirus they will be asked to leave the facility until they are cleared by a doctor to return.
  • Visitors to our facilities will be very limited.  Those admitted should be prepared to answer COVID-19 related questions before entry.  Those with heightened risk factors or displaying visible signs of sickness will not be able to enter the facility. If you have a planned visit to Stuller please check with your Stuller contact before making travel arrangements.

During this time of uncertainty, the safety and health of Stuller’s customers and associates, their families, communities, and vendors are our top priorities.  We believe remaining well-informed, taking proactive measures, and utilizing the latest advisories from the CDC, LDH, and the medical community are the best ways for us to minimize the impact of the virus. Our thoughts and prayers are with anyone affected by this disease.

We will continue to dedicate significant time and resources to monitor this evolving situation and protecting those we serve and employ.




Engage with Countersketch Software Blog Header

From Picture to Perfection: How to Engage Using CounterSketch Software

Pictures paint a thousand words. So, it’s no surprise that our customers scour Pinterest, lifestyle blogs, websites, Instagram, and more in search of their picture-perfect inspiration. This practice has become an integral part of their buying processes, especially when considering large purchases.

All this research may bring customers to your store with their minds set on a particular design. They come with screenshots, printouts, magazine clippings— the list goes on and on. So, on one hand, it’s great that they’ve made up their mind about what they want and have some clear direction. But now, the pressure is on you to concoct their desired item at a price they can afford.

 

The success of the sale is in your hands. Use CounterSketch software to engage and entrance your customers.

 

Start by Sharing on Social Media

You can be a part of customers’ research and discovery process by sharing, sharing, sharing on all your marketing channels. Use Pinterest to post your own daring designs. And feel free to pin other inspiring pieces as well. Use Instagram to flex your creative capabilities, too. Let all of Facebook know you have limitless power to customize any design through CounterSketch software. Keep your website updated with all your latest and most engaging creations. This way, customers will feel comfortable coming to you with their pictured inspirations, as you confidently take on their wildest ideas.

Step 1: Check Your Live Inventory

Once your customer has found their inspiration, it’s now your job to bring it to life. Take a look at your customer’s inspiration image. Then, check your showcase. Is there anything identical, or at least similar, that you can offer them to try on? This initial try-on can clear up a lot of confusion later. As a jeweler, you are trained to see a photo and translate that into a physical piece of jewelry. But your customers aren’t. Not to mention, that is why they came to your jewelry store . . . to try on jewelry!

Here’s a good example: Customers love the look of eternity bands in photos. But all too often, once they put the ring on, they don’t like how the stones feel between their fingers. Suggesting a similar item, like an anniversary band instead, could be a huge help.

This also sparks conversation around the particular design aspects that are most important to them. If you have exactly they’re looking for in stock, give your merchandising manager a high-five for predicting consumer demand. But, let’s assume you’re not that lucky. Let’s pretend your customer came to you with the earrings below. They want a similar ring with lots of stones.

CounterSketch Software Design Inspiration

Step 2: Check Your Online Showcase

Take your customer over to the computer on your sales floor. On your Stuller Showcase page, you can browse Stuller’s entire inventory using descriptive terms to narrow down the results. For example, in our bridal jewelry category, we have twelve initial categories available. Then, there are 60+ sub-categories to consider, and several have sub-sub-categories to refine your search further.

Once you’ve found the right design type, and then perhaps a similar style, you can use 3C models to modify the design to exactly what your customer showed you when she walked in the door. However, maybe something is missing. Maybe the ring below is almost what they’re looking for, but not quite their dream ring. Why make them settle for good enough when you can offer perfection?

Step 3: Co-create With Your Customer

Now, you can import that almost design into CounterSketch software to refine it further. Make modifications or add freehand parts to craft the design into your customer’s specific request. And the best part is that they’ll be at your side to assist with the entire design process.

Furthermore, if your customer’s idea is completely different from existing designs in Stuller Showcase and CounterSketch, fear not! Simply use your jewelry expertise to identify key attributes or aspects of the ring. Then, begin virtually assembling using CounterSketch Freehand Parts.

For this example, we have a plain band or shank, a marquise-shaped halo, a bezel-set ruby, and horizontal bars of gold. You can now work shoulder-to-shoulder with your customer to get the design just right. After all, you and your customer are in complete control using CounterSketch software. So, if a ring needs to be thinner or calls for fewer diamonds to meet a specific price-point, you can easily modify the design to fit their parameters.

CounterSketch Software Evil Eye Custom Ring

 

Step 4: For Even More Details…

The adventure doesn’t stop here. Maybe there are unique scrolls, script initials, or other meaningful details your customer just has to have. When this is the case, you can always turn to MatrixGold Essentials, Matrix, or RhinoGold to craft an even more intricate design. And if you’d rather have Stuller do the heavy lifting, simply submit a sketch to our CAD/CAM Services to deliver exactly what your customer wants!


So, next time you’re tasked with creating a unique design from a picture, no worries. Turn to CounterSketch software to create that picture-perfect piece!




Alex Graham Stuller Associate FF Blog

Feature Friday – Alex Graham

In October, I celebrated my 5th year anniversary with Stuller. Five years – wow! While some may consider 5 years a blink-of-an-eye, and it certainly seemed to pass at that speed, it’s a significant chunk of my 26 years on this planet. While I feel very accomplished, I know there is so much more to do! (It’s a little intimidating to think that at my age, my Dad had already founded Stuller!)

I have worked in four different departments: an Events Team Intern, an Accounts Manager for Corporate Operations, a Merchandising Content Manager for Findings, Tools, Metals and Packaging & Displays, and now I serve as the Customer Events Manager in our new Customer Experience department.

Alex Graham Trade Publication

My first feature in a trade publication

It seems I have come full circle. So far, I absolutely love it. I, along with my wonderful and skilled teammates, help put on Stuller’s Events: Bridge, Bench Jeweler Workshop, Transform, Tradeshows and Trainings. My favorite aspect of my job is the energy. Sure, there are moments of high-stress, which occur in any job, but for the most part, the energy is electric. It’s our customers’ passion and love for their professions that overflows and ignites mine. They keep me knowledgeable and grounded. I love that at Stuller Events, jewelers come together and help each other face the enormous amount of change happening in the industry. Our events are where our employees get to sit down with our jewelers and have real conversations about how we can help them achieve their goals. It’s an honor to be a part of that.

Alex Graham Underwater Scuba DiverI get inspiration from everything: our customers, fellow employees, industry events. I particularly appreciate interacting with other “newbies” like me — 20-somethings trying to get into the game. It’s refreshing to know there are others my age who are just as enthusiastic about the opportunities in front of us. I also enjoy attending industry events for networking and education. There is always something new to learn.

Outside of work, I love to travel, write and scuba dive. I am a firm believer that the greatest joy in life can be found by submerging yourself in different cultures. It’s not always comfortable, but it is always, always worth it. You meet the most interesting people and see some of the most beautiful sights this amazing world has to offer. There is not a single plane ticket that I’ve purchased that I regret (I can’t say that about some of my clothing or meal choices). This year I plan on traveling to New Zealand and Prague.

Alex Graham Travel Berlin

Travels to Berlin

Writing is another passion of mine with fiction and personal blogging my main outlets. Scuba diving, however, will always be my number one love. There is nothing like it. You literally submerge yourself into another world, full of the most amazing and wonderful creatures you couldn’t even dare dream up yourself. Luckily for me, my three favorite hobbies often go hand in hand.

I’ve learned so much in these past five years and yet I know that I’ve only scratched the surface. I am beyond excited to be in this industry. The changes don’t scare me; they motivate me! I hope that in time I’ll achieve even half of what my father has. That goal, for sure, is motivation.

I trust in Stuller, I trust in our customers and I believe that as a team – the future will be D Flawless!

Alex Graham Matt Stuller Family


Read more about how I got my start here: Growing Up Stuller