Ensuring Brick-and-Mortar Retail Success in a Digital World

A Jeweler Assisting a Customer


by Maggy Michaels Durrenberger  

Sustaining a booming retail business has always been challenging—even before the onslaught of online sales upped the ante of competition. Today’s multi-channel world may seem daunting, but brick-and-mortar still maintains the upper hand of its inherent strength: local and individual relevance. More than ever before, physical retailers are learning how to delight and even surprise their customers with experiences that nurture loyalty and turn them into “walking advertisements.” Let’s glance over a few of the ways they are creating opportunities for their customers to truly love shopping.

Know Your Customers

From the moment they cross the threshold, customers need to sense that their preferences, needs and desires are a priority. Online sellers can offer virtually unlimited choices, but brick-and-mortar has the ability to offer the right choices. Particularly in higher-end retail environments, customers appreciate and grow to rely upon a selection of relevant, quality merchandise that has been curated by a discerning retailer. They want to see, touch, compare, ask questions—and trust the answers. Consider exclusive rewards for the most loyal customers. Several luxury retailers including Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus invite the frequent users of their store credit cards to private sales and fashion shows.

Don’t Be Boring

Smart retailers are beginning to plan and manage every detail of their business from a perspective of ingenuity and imagination. They look for ways to pop, sizzle, differentiate. At the same time, they are awakening to the power of the occasional “Wow!” Psychologists maintain that memorable customer experiences are created by the emotional intensity of specific moments, not the overall experience. A one-time Fresno, California-based jeweler, would actually sprint over to a nearby floral shop and return with a dozen roses if he overheard that a customer was celebrating an anniversary or birthday.”

Be Authentic

The single most powerful advantage of brick-and-mortar over online sales is the most obvious: the opportunity to make a personal connection. Advertising attracts traffic but it will always be the credibility, trust, value and personal pleasure associated with the shopping experience that brings a customer back again and again.

Smart retailers empower their sales agents with exceptional training programs but they also look for ways to motivate their employees to remain focused on creating an outstanding customer experience—not just a sale. That’s why Nordstrom customer service enjoys iconic status. Forrester Research, Inc. Principal Analyst Kate Leggett calls it a great business strategy. “They treat it as a way to influence the top line. It helps with the repurchase rates and recommendations.”

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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Neiman Marcus Files for IPO

Neiman Marcus Storefront


by John Sealander  

Neiman Marcus Proves Luxury Retail is
Alive and Well With a $100 Million IPO

Neiman MarcusFive years after being taken private by a private equity firm for $5.1 billion dollars, Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is on the verge of going public again. The recent IPO registration does not necessarily mean that the company will go public, but it is a good indication that Neiman Marcus is doing well and wants to keep its options open.

During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the sale of luxury goods plummeted in the United States. Neiman Marcus, like most luxury retailers, suffered during the recession, but conditions have definitely improved. Projections indicate that at the end of the current fiscal year, Neiman Marcus sales will have recovered to pre-recession levels.

Neiman Marcus was the first high-end retailer to start selling online and currently attributes over 20 percent of total sales to their ongoing e-commerce efforts. This is better than high-end competitors Saks and Nordstrom, and bodes well for future growth. Neiman Marcus also derives over 11 percent of its revenues from the sale of fine jewelry and luxury watches. This means the watch industry will be watching the new IPO closely.

Will Neiman Marcus Really Go Public?

The initial prospectus, filed on Monday, June 24, did not set a timeline for taking the company public again. It is still unclear how many shares would be sold and on which exchange Neiman Marcus shares would trade. In fact, filing for an IPO doesn’t require the company to go public at all. Many industry watchers think that the recent Neiman Marcus IPO registration is only a placeholder for a much larger future sale.

It is no secret that private equity owners TPG Capital, Warburg Pincus and Leonard Green & Partners, are investigating a sale of the company. Most private equity funds have a lifespan of ten years or less and many in the financial world already consider Neiman Marcus a mature investment. The unanswered question is what this successful upscale retailer will do next.

If and when Neiman Marcus goes public, it is a good indication that the market for luxury goods has regained its health and high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus are here to stay.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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Target and Neiman Marcus Join Forces

by John Sealander  

Would a Relationship Like the One Recently Established by
Target and Neiman Marcus Work in the Watch Industry?

Target Neiman Marcus Joint LogoEveryone is talking about the newly formed partnership between Target and Neiman Marcus. To some, this “odd couple” relationship makes no sense at all, while others praise the new collaboration as a stroke of genius. Whatever your opinion, it’s hard to ignore that this is a whole new way of marketing.

Traditionally, high-end retailers and discounters never went after the same audience. On closer inspection however, collaborations like the one recently established by Target and Neiman Marcus can be a win for both parties. In Target’s case, collaborating with Neiman Marcus on a holiday collection featuring 24 well known designers gives them more big names to feature in their stores. Neiman Marcus, on the other hand, benefits from the additional exposure it gets from being featured in thousand of Target stores.

High-End and Value Watch Brands from a Single Source

According to watch industry insider and Gevril Group founder Samuel Friedmann, these types of “odd couple” relationships make perfect sense for the watch industry. “We have always tried to expose our audience to a wide variety of quality brands and price points,” says Friedmann. The Gevril Group strategy of providing a single source for watch brands at many different price points has worked out well for everyone.

High end, low volume brands gain the exposure they need to maintain their allure, while value oriented, mass-market brands benefit by offering customers a clearly defined choice. It’s a win-win for all. Traditionally, marketers have thought that selling high end products in the wrong place would damage the brand. That thinking is changing however. Marketers now recognize that customers are savvy enough to distinguish between a limited edition timepiece that sells for $5,000 and a mass-market version that sells for $500. What today’s customer’s want is the ability to see all their options and make the final decisions themselves.

Single Source Marketing Works

When Target and Neiman Marcus decided to provide a common venue for the holiday collections of 24 well-known designers, they discovered something that Gevril Group has known all along. Single source marketing works! It works because today’s customers are smart and they like lots of options. Samuel Friedmann doesn’t care whether customers are looking for a rarity or an exceptional value. “My job is meeting customer expectations,” he says. “To make it as easy as possible for customers to find precisely what want.” Target and Neiman Marcus are doing exactly the same thing.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog updates. Reader comments are welcome.