Bartorelli Gioielli: in boutiques for 150 years
Looking only at the last 10 years, how has the market changed? In terms of the type of requests from the public but also from companies?
The difference is clear. Until ten years ago, you offered twenty very different brands and you sold them all, even without much effort. Now you can only resist if you offer historical brands, which however have recently been applying a strategy of extreme selectivity in distribution. See Bulgari, which is moving towards the closure of all its multi-brand corners to dedicate itself only to branded boutiques. The market has therefore changed a lot, partly because the national clientele is more oriented towards the purchase of established brands, while the choice falls on unbranded only if one starts from a more or less valuable raw material. We are talking about important stones, diamonds or colors, which never lose too much even during great crises. To these generalized differences we must then add the “local” variables, linked to the various tourist destinations where we have our boutiques. In Forte dei Marmi and Cortina we have a mainly international audience and Italians from Milan for Forte and from the center south for the “Queen of the Dolomites”, in Milano Marittina and Riccione a clientele more European or from the center north.
What is the biggest challenge facing the market today? And the greatest criticality of this international moment?
That of the entrepreneur is always a challenge, but in this type of international situation the worst is having to make clear-cut choices. And quickly. My philosophy is simple: better to make bad decisions than to do nothing, because you end up consuming yourself slowly until you completely shut down. And without even realizing that you are dying. This is what happened to all those who stood still this year, waiting for the long wave to pass, which has not yet completely passed. The real criticality is precisely the one that lies ahead of you in front of these "crossroads", because we must be very clear. In my company, however, we have spent this invaluable time trying to understand how to better manage our real assets: the customer. The trend that has emerged the most is that from now on to the next few years, the buyer's attention will mainly be on jewelery, so we will focus more on this market area. The real consideration that can be made is that if you have the courage to make the right choices, crises can turn out to be great opportunities, and forget the implications of criticality.
Best sellers of yesterday and today: which were before and which are today and what do the changes tell us?
The key word of recent years has been one: storytelling. In fact, companies have invested more and more in their know-how and their history, which in some cases means decades of culture and style that have been able to establish themselves and become successful entrepreneurial examples. Today, companies that do not change too much but invest in small changes to their core business are increasingly rewarded. Those who opt for radical revolutions, on the other hand, struggle more, because the public no longer recognizes their past. This shows us how we need to increase the contents of what we have, and not necessarily focus on something extreme. Rather. Jewelery must last over time, especially beyond a certain range. In our stores we therefore aim for the classic, with diamonds and stones with exclusive cuts. Nothing too “strange” or contemporary, because it often turns out to be fleeting. The cult piece always remains the ring, a symbol of bond, but there is no shortage of women who come to buy them themselves, to gratify themselves or simply to satisfy their desire to own something beautiful and of lasting value. This is certainly a slice of the public that we would never have imagined ten years ago.
Offline and online: two opposite solutions or which can be integrated? How have both of these realities changed in the last year?
They are both two solutions that can be absolutely effective if integrated with each other, because today it is not enough to be present online to justify the expense, which must also be supported by the income of the physical store. On our e-shop we have pieces ranging from € 200 to € 8 / 10,000, but a nice gallery is not enough to complete the sale. It is necessary to integrate the virtual visit of the potential customer with information on his tastes, profiling it based on what he puts in the "cart", how much time he spends in each section of the site and on each product. We are investing a lot in this aspect. Over the past year, many new customers have contacted us, who saw something on the site for anniversaries or birthdays but then called us directly to get advice and finalize the purchase. A bit like they had been in the shop. At the moment, it is sold online but a percentage is still not significant, also because the jewel of a certain price, from 4/5 thousand euros upwards, must be seen in person. For watches you can even get to 8 / 10,000, because if you aim for a certain model by Cartier or Rolex, you know what you are talking about, and how it “dresses”. On the other hand, acquiring and managing the data relating to various customers in a targeted manner serves to stimulate sales, especially in such a mature market. This is a practice that we adopt with mid-range customers, because with those in the high-spending target it is easier, we have known their tastes for some time. With them it is never about the discount but about who they have in front of them, who must give them full confidence.
How is the propensity to buy of your long-standing customers changing? How long does it take for a customer to be defined as "historical"?
Today the historicity of the customer exists but it is fading, loyalty is a very rare thing. A customer is loyal when he buys an important product, if you can sell him something very nice (and maybe expensive) you will keep him loyal forever. You must be very good at treating the customer after the purchase, because it is still a very neglected factor but it can make a difference with your competitors. How you do it? You hear it for birthdays, anniversaries, family celebrations. In short, you pamper him. If you are good, the discount is not the most important thing. Basically, we should learn to manage the wholesale product as if it were a boutique. The "after sales" done properly gives value to what you have sold. There is no doubt.
Adapting the style and use of a "family jewel": a trend also due to the times? have you noticed it among your customers too?
Some of our customers have numerous family jewels and therefore it is a service that must be done to satisfy even that slice of the market and in any case the requests of those you have already loyal as a "repeater". If, on the other hand, we are talking about people who have a jewel modified because they have limited budgets, then we are the first to advise against it, because sometimes it is an expensive operation that does not lead to the desired results. To push towards the "restyling" option or not of a jewel is generally the stone or stones that make up its heart. When it comes to particularly beautiful stones, which can tell a story even on their own, sometimes it takes little to make them the protagonists of a more contemporary piece and in line with the style of the wearer.
What do you like best about your job?
I started doing this job as a boy, when I realized that I love stones dispassionately, diamonds in particular and everything that is beautiful. Having the opportunity to be in contact with a certain level of customers has its charm, because you know that you transfer culture and give a plus to what you sell. However, managing an important customer requires dedication and care: we go and visit them at home, we show them stones and jewels selected according to their tastes, we invest precious time both for us and for them, but like on the web, investing in content has its own return. Today more than ever.
Lorenza Scalisi, Editor VO+