With fast-changing technologies and the flow of information impacting the shopping behaviour of consumers, jewellery retailers are hard-pressed to enrich their clients’ shopping experiences. A jewellery purchase is no longer limited to a single transaction; it has evolved into a continuous shopping experience that involves two-way communication.
Diamond jewellery wholesalers and retailers have encountered several hurdles in recent years. Today, establishing and maintaining trust through consistent customer engagement is a must for retailers dealing with an increasingly discerning and experienced group of buyers. One way of boosting consumer confidence and protection is through third-party authentication. Leading retailer Chow Tai Fook, however, is taking this one step further. The jeweller recently introduced the T Mark inscription, which the company said provides a thorough and accurate account of a diamond’s journey. The T Mark, a patented technology developed by Chow Tai Fook, enables the traceability of the stone, from the mine to the store. Revolving around the theme “To tell the truth,” the campaign focuses on the 4Ts: Traceable, Transparent, Truthful and Thoughtful.
Source and coding
Alan Chan, director of the Group Branding Department at Chow Tai Fook, said the introduction of a T Mark inscription satisfies both the needs of the market and Chow Tai Fook’s diamond manufacturing process. “Every diamond sold at Chow Tai Fook is traceable from its source, and each gem is given a unique identity, which is made possible by the system established by Chow Tai Fook, and by cooperating with the world’s three leading diamond producers – Rio Tinto, De Beers and Alrosa.”
From the moment a diamond is sourced, it is assigned a traceable code, enabling its future owner to look back at the gem’s history – from manufacturing (cutting and polishing) and authentication to design and even the day the diamond was delivered to one of its shops.
The customer experience
Applying an exclusive patented nanotechnology, each diamond is emblazoned with the T Mark. The serial number, which is unique to each diamond, is visible when viewed through a 150X microscope, another piece of patented technology, according to the jeweller.
Catering to younger consumers, the retailer developed a mobile app inspired by the jewellery box concept, which not only allows storage of data about the diamond’s history and its GIA certificate, but also enables buyers to input key dates to document their memories, and even share them on social media platforms.
The project took two years of planning and preparation. Chan said Chow Tai Fook’s 4T concept is setting a new standard to diamond jewellery purchases, which complements the traditional 4C concept. “4T and 4C are the new concepts to understand and better appreciate a diamond,” he said. The retailer hopes that the introduction of this technology will enhance a consumer’s buying experience, especially at the frontline sales level.
Training the frontline staff in more than 2,000 outlets about its T Mark products is the biggest challenge facing Chow Tai Fook. “At present, T Mark products are featured in about 100 stores in China and Hong Kong. Our goal is to make this product available in 300 stores in the 2018 fiscal year,” Chan said.
It is reported that the T Mark is mainly used in pieces using the popular four-prong and six-prong settings. Eighty percent of these goods are available in less than 20 pieces. The next step is to establish T Mark’s exclusive style and add more elements to the line.
“T Mark is like a computer’s Intel processor. It serves as a guarantee of the raw material’s brand. T Mark complements Hearts On Fire, Chow Tai Fook’s international diamond brand, which boasts proprietary cutting and polishing technologies. Together, the two optimise our product mix and promote higher-value products to match the spending profiles of Chow Tai Fook’s high-end jewellery clients,” Chan said.
Recently, Chow Tai Fook gave a complete makeover to its stores and rearranged the ways its collections are displayed to enhance consumers’ shopping experiences.
In the past, jewellery stores are accustomed to arranging products according to their categories such as gold, diamond, jade and pearl. However, many customers enter a store without a clear idea of what to buy. This is particularly true for consumers who are shopping for gifts and who usually do not have any clue of where to start.
“We have changed the layout in our stores. The shops are now divided into sections including wedding, trendy, classic and a special area for exclusive or authorised products with our partners. At the same time, different themes are expressed through cabinets in different colours. Most importantly, our sales staff are trained and encouraged to interact more with customers. Understanding their needs is much more important than providing them with standard technical information.”
To date, about 1,000 outlets have undergone renovation. It is expected that the remaining ones will be completed within the year. The retailer plans to renovate its shops every two years.