7 Ways to Turn a Jewelry Shopper into a Buyer

Jul 13, 2009

7 Ways to Turn a Jewelry Shopper into a Buyer

Yes, it's true:  part of my job is to go to shows and look at the jewelry.  I'm not sure how it happened exactly, but it was also part of my job to help launch Bead Fest.  Ever since that first one seven years ago, it's been part of my job to pitch in at our shows as well, helping people find their workshops or checking hand stamps at the door. It's never actually been part of my job to shop at any show, but sometimes that happens, too. 

If you sell your jewelry at shows, you might want to find out how a pretty disciplined and seasoned professional showgoer like me winds up becoming a customer, too. You probably know these things in your heart already.  But if you're not a professional salesperson, it's easy to forget what you're supposed to do in the anxiety of that performance moment.

1. Display less.  For me, the rule is "Easy does it":  less selling all around is more effective. A couple of years ago at Bead Fest Philadelphia, for instance, a small case of bracelets did me in.  There weren't more than seven or eight of them laid out on a black velvet pad and that was the beginning of my downfall. I always find a smaller display more appealing than one crammed with jewelry on every square inch of available surface.
2. Encourage looking.  I might have just lingered over those bracelets and moved on to the next booth if no one had paid me any notice or if someone had pounced, pulling bracelets out and trying to put them on me. But no, the bracelets stayed where they were while I studied them through the glass.  Only when I looked up did an assistant open the case and quietly lay the velvet pad in front of me. 

3. Ask not what they like: Ask what they like best.  Did I want to see that one with the silver spirals, or was I looking at the one with patterned beads of brown, tan, and black next to it?  I'd had no intention of buying any bracelet, but once gently invited to start choosing my favorite, that's exactly what I did.

4. Offer alternatives—not too fast and not too many.   After I'd picked up the one with the earthy palette, fingered a couple that were more brightly colored, and was shown another muted design that hadn't been out, I migrated back to that earthy one and tried it on. It looked great.

5. Help justify the purchase.   As much as I liked the bracelet, I knew I'd been drawn to it because I could picture my friend Suzanne wearing it, it was so her taste, and I began making noises about getting it as a birthday present for her. Everyone fussed over what a great friend I must be.

6. Throw in an extra.  Then I decided it would be a little big for her just as it was for me, since we're about the same size. No problem, the maker pulled out a pair of pliers and offered to remove a link on the spot and put it back on as an extra dangle.

That did it. I bought the bracelet, though in the end I kept it for myself.  In my defense, let me add that at another booth I soon after bought a polymer pendant I really liked and gave that to Suzanne—and unless she reads this, she has no idea that the bracelet she's admired on my wrist several times was ever supposed to have been hers!

7. Promote and sell on the Web.
Want to improve your sales at shows and online? Watch for "Building an Online Following" coming up in the August issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, along with expert advice on ergonomic hammering, successful annealing, what's cool about designing with fossils and how to set one into a pendant, and so much more.  The August issue is available at the Interweave Store, where you can also get an even better deal by subscribing.  Hey, we know about throwing in an extra, too!

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on Jul 13, 2009 7:00 AM
This is a great post, Merle! Thanks for laying out the information in such a clear, accessible way.
DebbieA@29 wrote
on Jul 13, 2009 7:00 AM
Glad that "Display Less" was your first suggestion. Overly stocked booths are often so busy that they make me nervous. Your eyes need places to stop and rest. Or as the old adage goes, less is more.
on Jul 13, 2009 7:15 AM
I love #6 - Throw in something for free! If someone buys a high-end piece, ask if she would like to choose something from (point out a grouping of your lower-end pieces) as a gift from me to you. I used to do this when I would cold call on independent gift shops showing my jewelry. I would sell my pieces wholesale to the buyer for the store. If that person immediately started making piles of the items she was interested in and adding up her total, I would say, "Why don't you choose something for yourself - it'll be my gift to you?" Or, if the buyer was a man, "Why don't you choose something for your wife?" It was so easy!
Notesong wrote
on Jul 13, 2009 7:44 AM
This list as a whole is fantastic! Although I sell online, I still enjoyed reading it and will keep it in mind for the future. You never know!
Wanda W wrote
on Jul 13, 2009 10:33 AM
Hi, I always look for your articles, but now I am in a quandry, how do you select what to display if less is best? When do you bring out more? Do I just display alittle of the SS, Copper and Brass? thanks for any input since I have a couple of bigger shows coming up this fall, Wanda
Gyspy Mary wrote
on Jul 13, 2009 5:46 PM
I love this Article. I now can keep in the Car the storage unit that I wheel to Craft Sales. Take a couple of totes and put a lilttle of this and that, and have a little variety. I also, loved an earlier post, about displaying a "Digital Picture Frame". So, if a buyer sees something they like, I can fetch it for them. yeah! Thanks, Mary
Redbirdranch wrote
on Jul 14, 2009 9:08 AM
Thank you Ms. White for the informative list of how to improve a customer's experience and a the bottom line for every vendor. I loved the story format and your suggestions are clearly appropriate to any merchandise an artist is offering for sale.
Rhoda@10 wrote
on Jul 31, 2009 11:42 AM
In keeping with the "display less" theory, I bring a wide variety of items to fairs and festivals so I can change things up depending on what people seem most interested in. Each fair/festival has it's own unique patrons with differing tastes, interests and budgets. Since you can't really get this feedback in advance, it's good to have the flexibility in your offerings. At my last fair, I changed out 3 of my displays based on what purchases were being made, customer interactions/comments/feedback, and trends I saw in buying prices throughout the day. I had my best fair day ever and will definitely continue to do this. http://rhodasdesignsfromtheheart.com/
Luv3 wrote
on Dec 4, 2009 10:25 AM
I'll be doing a small craft show in March (my 1st!) and I'm gratified by the idea of 'less display'.Not only am I not sure of the table space I'll have, but I only have one case my husband had used for his Lure collection. I have several seed bead rings I need to figure something out for display too. I could always slip them on a roll of nice fabric I suppose. Any suggestions would be welcomed. This is an endeavor I'll be doing with my sister, a nature watercolorist. So I plan for lots of 'nature' and 'GREEN' items.