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The future of jewellery retail

A comment on the jewellery sector by Lisa Harrison, Head of Business Development for Hitachi Capital:

All the indicators point to a period of sustained growth for the jewellery industry, with annual global sales expected to reach €250 billion by 2020. Hitachi Capital has a long history of supporting retailers through providing innovative finance solutions that support sales and better customer relationships.

It is a dynamic industry that is constantly changing to meet consumer demand in both fashion and purchasing preference. Understanding changing trends is key, there is no such thing as business as usual, and it will be the quickest to adapt who prosper.

This study supports our own view that retailers must provide a seamless experience between online and high-street. With 29% of those surveyed buying jewellery online, it is important that this growing channel be supported with real-time finance solutions.

Retailers can use digital media to engage customers and shape brands. According to McKinsey, two-thirds of luxury shoppers say they engage in online research prior to an in-store purchase; one to two-thirds say they frequently turn to social media for information and advice.

The high street environment is also changing with single brand retailers making rapid market gains. Pandora has seen a significant growth since it arrived in the middle of the recession. Its second quarter UK results showed revenue of just under £40m, following nine store openings and a new range. Sales of rings jumped by 20% on the same period last year and sales for the group increased by 25.8% to £342m. The success of the business is most visible through its network of over 120 concept stores spanning across most major UK cities.

Our own research tells us retailers who leverage payment technology to offer point of sale finance, both in store and online, are seeing improved revenue, enhanced bottom-line profitability, and long-term brand value. Over 80% of our customers surveyed, confirmed that offering finance heavily influenced their decision to buy from a specific retailer, with 48% spending more as a result.

General

The research shows a diverse retail environment, with 49.5% using a high street jeweller, while fashion retailers, such as Primark, account for 33%, and 29.5% using a department store. Local independent jewellers account for 24%. In a tough retail environment it is important to ensure every purchase opportunity is maximised.

Hitachi Capital’s own study showed 83% of customers said that the fact the retailer offered finance heavily influenced their decision to purchase, with nearly 50% saying it played a very important role.

Retailers who don’t offer finance risk losing nearly 44% of customers, with 26% deciding not to go ahead with the purchase, or choosing to buy from another retailer. Another 18% would have second thoughts about buying the product altogether.

This study shows the majority of shoppers, 61%, buy jewellery infrequently or once a year. Each visit, be it in store or online, is a chance to build both customer loyalty and sales. Offering customers the option to pay via a variety of finance options, from Interest Free to Buy Now Pay Later is a huge advantage in the current market.

Used tactically, the availability of different finance options can transform a business, delivering significant levels of incremental sales, higher sales margins and increasing brand value.

Bridal

According to Brides Magazine, the average British wedding now comes to a total of around £24,000. Engagement rings and wedding rings will be a big purchase at a time when couples can least afford it.

The high street and independent jeweller account for 86% of engagement ring purchases. And while 74% of those surveyed still favour a white or gold wedding ring, 44% of those surveyed did no research before their purchase.

The ability to offer interest free credit finance, with payment plans that are easy to set up and require an affordable deposit, spread the cost to make purchasing a once in a lifetime item more feasible.

Offering 0% interest free credit makes sure that products and services are available to a wider audience and create the potential to win new customers that might have been out of the target market.

There are many benefits to offering 0% interest free credit. It enables the retailer to reach a wider audience, winning new customers and giving them a once in a lifetime buying experience. It is important to offer a quick and efficient application that will enables customers to make their purchase on the day.


Branded

Research from McKinsey shows branded items already account for 60 percent of sales in the global watch market, while branded jewellwry accounts for only 20 percent of the overall jewellery market today, its share has doubled since 2003.

This view is certainly supported by this research, which shows high brand awareness for branded retailers, with Pandora (88.4%), Swarovski (87.4%) and Thomas Sabo (35.3%), leading the pack.

Watches

The watch remains a popular item of jewellery, despite 15% of those surveyed not wearing one. While 56% own one or two watches, over 50% shop for one every one to ten years.

As in many other areas of retail, polarisation is an influential trend within watches. UK consumers are choosing either luxury timepieces or basic, low-priced watches. Providing a finance offer can help extend the luxury market to a wider audience.

A 36 month interest free loan can make a £1,500 Tag Heuer watch affordable, with monthly payments for as little as £37. Finance allows a longer term relationship to be built with the customer and creates opportunities to upsell and increase the frequency of purchase.