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CORDER’S COLUMN: New normal is likely to increase sales “By Appointment”

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Although the country remains in lock down for at least the next few weeks, there are the first signs of dawn breaking on a distant horizon, and now is the time to prepare for when the strictest social distancing measures ease.

Luxury watch retailers — particularly those selling the most desirable brands — are uniquely well-placed to profit quickly from gradual lifting of lock down because they are experts in the business of turning limited footfall into high value sales.

Moreover, the best retailers have long-standing relationships with their best customers and should know a reasonable amount about clients that only occasionally pass through and spend.

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Any decent authorised dealer for Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier or Omega will have turnover in the seven figures and should have invested in both the people skills and technology to stay close to thousands of customers.

Those that have not done so already, need to interrogate their databases for clues to future spending.

Which customers spent money in April last year, and why? Did they buy watches and/or jewellery? Have there been any significant birthdays, anniversaries or other family milestones while we have been in lock down? Are there any occasions coming up in May and June?

This information can feed into personalised marketing with the aim of lining up appointments when regulations permit.

Appointments are not new, but they are highly precious.

As a luxury retailer, you can create scarcity around appointments. There should be a limited number each day, so that each can be personalised and special for the customer, and you can make it clear that they will fully comply with social distancing and other safety measures.

Offering the chance to buy the watch of a customers’ dreams, or a special piece of jewellery for a wedding, engagement or anniversary, will make it irresistible.

If there is pent-up demand, loyal customers will feel they have preferential treatment because they have secured prized appointment slots.

If there are appointments remaining, they can be offered to occasional or new customers.

Managing scarcity for high value clients is what luxury watch retailers do best. Turning appointments into another prized commodity is a good tactic that can be worked on today.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder