Retail best practices for jewellers in the age of COVID-19

Trying on Jewellery

The National Association of Jewellers in the UK has released a guide for retail jewellers, which CPM has summarised and supplemented with pointers pertinent to the situation in South Africa. Consider temporarily suspending services that require close proximity or contact with your client, like ear piercing (which you should have indemnity forms for).

Large retailers including Pandora have asked customers to refrain from trying on jewellery, and especially as physical distancing may pose extra risks of theft, this may be your best option. Weigh up the potential likelihood of a sale against the time, cost and possible damage to or theft of jewellery that these extra measures present:

Trying on and cleaning jewellery:

  • All jewellery the customer brings in, or tries on, and all tools and ring sizers etc must be thoroughly disinfected after anyone has touched them.
  • You could allow try-ons only after a purchase to weed out the tyre-kickers or potential thieves.
  • Ultrasonic machines and UV light boxes are a possible alternative to potentially damaging ethanol alcohol spray or wipes – but you’d need to confirm with the product manufacturer that the model you have does in fact kill the virus, and of course educate staff about the kinds of jewellery that should not be put into an ultrasonic cleaner.
  • If you’re asking clients to use a hand sanitizer before they touch any jewellery, make sure their hands are dry before trying on rings that could be damaged by the alcohol (including organic minerals, delicate stones and rose gold).
  • Note that most people are not using hand sanitizer properly. This video details the process involved to make sure that your hands are safely disinfected.
  • Do you need to have every piece of jewellery in your range available for customers to try on? Perhaps only allow items from sleek, less intricately designed (and therefore easily cleaned) ranges to be handled?
  • You could consider asking clients to put on a clear plastic glove before trying on rings, which would be discarded afterwards. This would save you the hassle and expense of sanitising each piece afterwards, but will contribute to the growing issue of plastic waste resulting from this pandemic.
  • Could you perhaps offer colour cut outs of your necklaces, bracelets and ring tops that customers can place on themselves, to be discarded afterwards? These would of course need to be printed out at exactly 100% scale and would take some time to cut out.
  • There are apps you could try out which give your customers the ability to try on jewellery virtually, from home. Not only do these eliminate the risk of spreading coronavirus, they can expand your client base outside of your local area and these apps claim to improve online sales when added to your e-commerce site. Please note that CPM has not personally tested any of these options:


General sanitising and physical distancing tips:

  • Staff should disinfect all surfaces prior to the customer approaching their work area, and it’s probably best to ask the customer to wait a minute while you do this in front of them.
  • As per guidelines issued by government, all staff of manufacturing jewellers, wholesalers and retailers must wear cloth (not paper) masks, as well as gloves when handling product and touching counter tops. The NAJ recommends staff wear disposable rubber/plastic gloves or reusable ones that get disinfected thoroughly. We would ask that you weigh up the environmental cost of disposable ones and also consider that many experts have warned against the all-day use of gloves as ineffective.
  • Your staff must disinfect or wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after handling items passed between a customer and themselves and always avoid touching their faces.
  • Staff should be allocated their own items that are traditionally shared – like pens. Communal items and things like loupes that the customer will hold close to the face must be disinfected between uses.
  • A suggestion on how to keep physical distance between staff and customer is to place specific items on a disposable pad, step back, and only then allow the customer to approach.


Security:
Crime continues to be a massive problem in South Africa, exacerbated by the devastating effect lockdown has had on our economy – now projected to contract by at least 7% in 2020. Unemployment figures released towards the end of June are sitting at 30.1% (under the wider definition that includes those who have given up looking for work, the rate hit 39.7%) and estimates are that we’ll be well over 40% soon. CPM compiled an article around security best practices that you may want to revisit. Each storeowner will need to carefully consider the best approach for their staff and business.

  • Locking the doors once your customer is inside and only allowing in singles or couples at a time might be enough of a deterrent to would-be thieves, but could also pose risks to your staff if brazen criminals are prepared to use violence to get back out.
  • The current government gazette guidelines are that two people can’t walk into a shop together at a time, however the JCSA was planning to appeal this ruling with the DTI.
  • Italian jewellers have been requesting that customers remove their masks and show their faces before being allowed into the store. You could insist that customers do this looking into a security camera, or present some form of ID before entering. Make sure this data is immediately fed to a storage facility as part of your security system.
  • Your procedures for handling, displaying and locking away jewellery may need to adapt accordingly to disinfecting routines, so allow enough time for this in your opening & closing protocols.
  • Check with your insurer to see if they have issued any guidelines for retailers that might affect you in the event of a claim, and keep in touch with your security company around any updated protocols that either of you have put in place.

The Jewellery Council of SA has a dedicated COVID-19 portal on their website that you can refer to for updates, and CPM will keep you informed as we receive industry-related info. If you are not already on our mailing list, contact Malcolm@cpmdbn.co.za to be added.

Take good care out there, and be safe.

orders@capepreciousmetals.co.za

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