Despite bridal returning to a position of being the bread and butter product category for many jewellery retailers, it does not come without its challenges.
In fact, there are challenges both retailers and suppliers are having to overcome to make sure this sector in the UK jewellery industry shines.
For some the ever-growing bespoke element actually presents a challenge, rather than an opportunity. When the competition is high, it’s no longer enough to just offer an engraving that will take 10 days when the jeweller down the road can do it while the consumer waits and add a heartbeat and finger print too.
Other retailers are struggling to compete against jewellers which are able to offer a home service. In a time where customer experience is key, many have turned to taking the experience to the consumer as a way to drive sales even when footfall is low. Over the next 12 months, home services is an area which is expected to gain momentum, leaving jewellers without the team or infrastructure to join in wondering how they can offer something more tempting.
For jewellers which are either predominantly bricks and mortar, or have no omni-channel presence at all, the battle to compete online continues to be a trial too.
Hamilton & Inches chief executive shares: “The biggest challenge facing the jewellery business moving forward is the direct competition from purely online businesses. There are financial benefits to shopping for diamond jewellery online, however, while we embrace digital, we see it as an extension of the retail experience. Even if our customers order online, we try to add a personal touch so they feel at ease if they would like to call next time, or even better come into the showroom.”
For predominantly online e-tailers the struggle is remaining competitive when the price of gold and diamonds is constantly increasing.
For 77 Diamonds, an online retailer which has witnessed higher levels of customers visiting the London showroom before making a purchase online, they will be monitoring this closely.
All across the board tight purses due to consumer uncertainty during unstable economical and political times will be on the minds of retail directors over the next 12 months. From a supplier point of view some are finding retailers just as nervous as consumers.
Designer, Andrew Geoghegan, says: “It has felt that many retailers are unsure where the high street is heading and are naturally nervous — this is compounded by low footfall and low spending by the consumer.”
“With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit it has been important to ensure that we are offering our retailers (and therefore the end consumers) the best possible products at affordable prices,” adds Serrell-Cooke from Domino Jewellery. “With consumer confidence at an all-time low, it has been vital that we provide consumers with all the options they are looking for in terms of personalisation but at an affordable price.”
With the rise of prices, and the weak pound, jewellery suppliers are working hard to keep prices affordable for retailers and the end consumers, with many sharing their desire to keep rising costs down without compromising on quality.
As for brands suppling retailers with bridal products, they understand the importance of building consumer trust.
“There is a shift in the retail market, more and more consumers look for brands they can trust,” shares Forevermark marketing assistant, Ben Umbers. “It’s about being at the forefront of this and I believe Forevermark is doing this in how it addresses each and every one of its three pillars by being the most beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced, and any challenges faced need to be looked at as a source of improvement.”
Looking ahead, retailers operating in the bridal sector need to think beyond products, as it is experience and customer service which will truly sparkle and encourage brides to say ‘I do’ to one store over another.