If you are a small, local diamond jeweler, you have a big, varied advantage. You are able to provide personalized service of an entirely different caliber than that of the larger chains. And tapping into this ability is a great way to grow your business.

Challenges of the Local Diamond Jeweler

The popular 1998 movie, You’ve Got Mail, portrayed a spirited battle between the mega chain store and the charming, independent, neighborhood spot. Even though it was a Hollywood romantic comedy, it shed light on the dilemma many independents have when it comes to fighting the goliath: That the mega store has the infrastructure and financial backing to undersell the smaller competition and still come away with a healthy profit.

Nowadays, the problem is also compounded by online mega-stores. “If I can buy the same item on for 20% less, why would I purchase it from the local store?” The answer requires a very strong commitment to “buying local.”

These days, having a web presence is also a critical component of most retail business. But not every local shop is tech savvy enough or can afford the web space and design services that the chains get.

The issues facing the local bookstore in You’ve Got Mail are not that different from those facing the local jeweler. A customer may be reluctant to buy from an online generic chain store but most are pleased enough with the quality and price of the chain stores that they are familiar with in their nearby mall. So how can you compete?

Combating and Circumventing the Online Challenges

Establishing a web presence is important. There are many free template ready solutions like WordPress and Wix which make setting up a site a no-brainer. But if that proves to be difficult too, then local stores can establish a Facebook page, create a Google+ page, and the like, using SEO for discoverability on Google, Bing and other search engines.

Done well, a free web presence may be as effective as a costly one. Furthermore, a web presence enables a local business to play up its role in the community, call upon people’s sense of loyalty, and establish the personal touch that online shopping cannot master. Read our eBook: Digital Marketing Strategies for Diamond Jewelry Retailers.

Making the Most Out of Being a Local, Independent Diamond Jewelry Store

First and foremost, because you are a jeweler, you are miles ahead of other types of retail that have to compete with the big stores. When it comes to shopping for diamond jewelry, people are more likely to trust the jeweler they know than the jeweler they don’t know. The bigger the purchase (engagement rings, for example), the more that trust is a component of the purchase. As the local shop, you can gain people’s trust, and probably have done so already.

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Local stores have the advantage of providing excellent customer service and have a major draw when it comes to competing with the chain stores – they can compete on experience. The odds are good that as a local jeweler, you have seen many customers pass through life’s milestones. Being local enables you to put the personal touch on that because you know the person, their name and their buying habits. And because you share the same community, you are able to keep track of life and societal events as they come up in a natural, friendly way. That knowledge also enables you to target your marketing to your constituents. And if brand loyalty is valuable, the personal touch engenders a personal loyalty and commitment that may beat any online mega-store’s potentially lower prices.

The Advantages of Having a Physical Store

When shopping for a piece, many consumers like to hold the diamond jewelry in their hands, try it on and look in the mirror. Some sites and Apps do let shoppers virtually try on rings, and other shoppers will be happy to pick out a pair of diamond solitaire earrings online, but there isn’t evidence as to whether this will take the place of going into a store.

This Retail Minded article explains, “Millions of consumers simply do not trust online purchasing and report feeling more comfortable giving a credit card at a physical location. Oftentimes this is due to a simple lack of knowledge on how to shop safely online. It is more difficult to establish brand trust without the benefit of a building in which people can browse and meet with salespeople. An online presence cannot compete with meeting the founder and owner face-to-face. Generally, this can only happen at the place of business.”

And, according to this article, shopping in a physical store can actually be more profitable: “Another major benefit for brands that operate brick-and-mortar stores is the way in which consumers spend their money while shopping. 40% of shoppers spend more than they had planned to while shopping in stores, while only 25% of shoppers do so when shopping online. Beautiful storefronts and point-of-purchase displays can strongly influence [buyers] to make an impulse purchase, and are much harder to ignore than online ads.”

Here is a list of benefits of being an independent diamond retailer over a chain store. See which ones resonate with you and find a way to capitalize on them.

Independent diamond jewelers can:

  • Reflect the local culture and character in a way that cannot be found in a homogenized world
  • Offer unique local products that cannot be found in big chains
  • Usually be the first to sell products made by small companies
  • Build strong communities and keep profits circulating within the local economy
  • Usually offer more personal, one-on-one contact with customers than chain stores, which often have automated customer service and ordering and long waits to talk to a representative
  • Spend less to start and run their stores than the costs of buying a chain store
  • Gain access to small business loans and grants to help cover start-up costs
  • Enjoy lower operating and overhead costs than large chain stores
  • Make decisions and implement changes faster than large chain businesses
  • Have employees that interact more with key decision makers such as the owner or managers due to the smaller number of total employees
  • Get a better feel for employee performance and customer needs with closer interaction from these groups

Bigger is Not Always Better

Brick-and-mortar stores have an inherent advantage in the consumer landscape, and that’s called in-store relevance. Thus, you, the local diamond jeweler will win big if you make yourself prominent on the local front, and in people’s lives. In that way, you maximize on the strengths and advantages that being local gives you, so you can compete with the big guys and win.