Ryan Edkins: Welcome to The Digital Jeweller. Today I’m joined by Elaine Scott from Cybertill. So the question is this: How are we as jewellers going to thrive in this ever-changing economy? How do we market our products and our services out into the world to ensure we get our message heard. That is the question and this podcast will give you the answer. My name is Ryan Edkins and welcome to The Digital Jeweller. As you know we are looking to educate the jewellery industry about the future, and what jewellers can do to improve the reach of their business by using technology to maximise their efficiency. Cybertill is one of those companies that has been seen to make waves through the jewellery industry recently. How long has the company been going?
Elaine Scott: I’ve been a retail consultant with Cybertill for about eight and half years. Cybertill was founded by the tech pioneer, Ian Tomlinson in 2001. And it was actually the first product to really bring retail management into the cloud, which allows businesses to access data actually in real-time. It was really innovative at the time when ecommerce was just beginning to take off, it really helped bricks and mortar retailers take a step into the digital realm. Cybertill has obviously grown year on year and has expanded its product offering to cater to specialist sectors such as jewellery, as you know. That’s probably been growing dramatically over the last couple of years
RE: Yeah, this cloud technology is definitely the future, I feel, of any industry. The ability to link in from any device wherever you are and get valuable information right there and then. It’s like a dashboard on your business, you know?
How do you see jewellers responding to this technology? The industry is not known for its progression with technology, I’m sorry to say. But it’s great to see companies like yourself really trying to educate jewellers to show them how to leverage technology for their benefit.
ES: Yeah, obviously, you know, the jewellers that we’ve been working with under the feedback on the current economic climate. I mean if you think about it, last year PWC research found that whilst 15 shops closed on the high street each week, the number of jewellers operating on the high street actually rose. The jeweller sector is actually thriving, but many jewellers are still lagging behind general retail when it comes to connecting online and in-store services. That, I would say, is probably the biggest challenge at the moment. In terms of why that is, I think they just have kind of unique challenges when it comes to stock. That’s what makes jeweller lag behind general retail. But, as you’ve heard me say before, I do think high street jewellers must get with the programmes because department stores and online retailers may begin to take their business.
RE: That’s right, and you know they’ve got a much bigger budget behind them and if jewellers – independent jewellers especially – if they don’t even touch upon the digital transformation that’s coming, then they are gonna be left behind in the dark unfortunately.
ES: Absolutely, and jewellers are often family businesses, and there can be a reluctance from older generations to get away from old methods. And obviously, if they haven’t digitised their store operations, new players in the jewellery are taking business away from those family jewellers, so it doesn’t matter how well-loved they are in their local markets. You know, I just think that [jewellers] do need to progress.
RE: It could be even as easy as looking at someone who has experience with computers, or technology, and just getting them to help. It doesn’t have to be a huge expense to go out and research these kind of technologies. Usually, within your own family someone will have the passion for it already.
ES: I couldn’t agree more.
RE: Why do you feel the cloud is the solution?
ES: Well it is that integration of absolutely everything, isn’t it? Dedicated servers kept in someone’s store room are far less secure than Amazon’s cloud infrastructure, which is what we operate on, the cloud allows for real-time exchange of stock, sales, and customer data which populates not only your staff and customer-facing website, but also your systems. By not having a cloud-based retail system, you’re limiting your growth.
RE: I agree. It’s something that, you know, if you can have the single interface that will tell you about your online sales, your in-store sales, your stock take, you know, all of these different insights that are the heartbeat of your company essentially, its going to really allow you to make decisions instantly on where to take the future of your business.
ES: Exactly. In terms of Cybertill, it was built to provide a real-time single view of stock sales and customers to retailers across all touchpoints, that includes, the integrated systems, the popup and branded retail shops, mobile point of sale, click and collect points, franchises, concessions, and of course, ecommerce as well.
RE: How do you find that click and collect is working for retailers at the moment?
ES: I think click and collect is very important, for example, we’ve just done a report actually on Gen Z, although 59% of Gen Z want a dedicated till for retrieving click and collect items, that generation don’t like queuing, so click and collect, and having that facility online is just so important. It really is. So, click and collect, click and reserve, having those for jewellery retailers is so important.
RE: Jewellery being such an emotional purchase, especially the higher end products, having that ability for consumers to reserve something and come in and inspect it before taking it away, just gives them that little bit more of confidence in the brand and the business, right?
ES: Definitely. And ecommerce is a tough one for jewellers at the moment, but ecommerce should be really the driver to get customers in store especially for items where fit is important, such as rings or watches. So that aside from click and collect and click and reserve, they do need to have that online availability of their stock, a catalogue of products online.
RE: A hundred percent. It is now what I talk about in my book your website should be your new digital shop window. So many more people are going to see your website now than your shop window and it has to be treated as the centre of your business. And if you can use cloud technology, to really manage that in a more streamlined manner, you’re going to have an easier time, a less stressful time in running your business, which is what it’s all about. It will help you do more, reach more, and actually expand easier if you’ve got a nice, simple system that you can manage from anywhere you are.
ES: Many customers will, especially in the jewellery market, some of them will be uncomfortable buying large ticket items online, whatever age they are. You know, if it’s a special like an engagement ring, you know, whether that’s a special order or, you know, they’ve seen something online, it’s going to drive them into store bricks and mortar, so that personal experience in the jewellery market is really important part of the experience, but I think online does drive that as well.
RE: Yeah, I think what the problem, when I speak to retailers, the common complaint is that they are surprised at how quick the rate of change is happening, and how Gen Z and Millenials are adopting these new ways of purchasing online and the click and collect model and they’re a bit scared of how to actually embrace it and they need guidance. Education is a key thing to help retailers really navigate this fast pace of change. What is Cybertill doing, and how are you helping retailers to navigate this change?
ES: In terms of the software, we’re trying to work very hard on the software. It’s different when you’re speaking to the independent retailers than it is to the larger jewellery market with more budget, and they do seem to be embracing the technology. In terms of the software, it’s not just about the stock control and the online offering for ourselves, it includes the special features such as the biometric login, workshop module for handling repairs, ring sizing and bespoke orders. We’re doing things like email receipts to protect lifetime guarantees, selling gift cards in-store and online and the ability to use those across channels, we’re extending the offering with extended aisle technology to sell direct from suppliers, and we’re helping retailers transfer stock between stores automatically with inter-store transfers. What we’re trying to do is get in front of as many jewellers as possible to give them a comparison in terms of what they’re doing right now in terms of their process. Whether that’s a manual system, or whether that’s an historic epos system that their running at the moment.
RE: There are no doubt systems that translate to a digital naturally. I presume when many retailers ae doing stock takes they are writing things down on pieces of paper, spreadsheets, which you can do within the cloud anyway.
ES: Absolutely, and in terms of our system, the problems that its going to solve for them is, you know, is that they’re going to have that full real-time view of stock, sales, and customers, going back to that real-time visibility. You know, managing loyalty and CRM right from the point of sale. I always say, and it might sound a little bit cheesy, but it’s not just a point of sale, it’s a point of service, it goes beyond transactions now. The fact that you can integrate into real-time ecommerce channels, you can show stock levels, and offer real-time click and collect or reserve and collect, in order to drive footfall to stores. In terms of the software, you know, we want to try and overcome retail challenges. We’re trying to help them in more ways than one.
RE: If retailers are going to dip their toe into modern cloud technology, what would you say is the best route for them to start bringing on board this kind of technology? I guess its not something that they have to take the whole part of the technology, they can start in one area and slowly ease their way in, is that right?
ES: Definitely, you know, we understand that people are reluctant to change, and it can be a little bit daunting in terms of computer systems, certainly cloud technology, but it’s having that vision. It’s kind of analysing the business, seeing where they need to improve, what are the challenges that they are facing, maybe where are they losing money, what are their competitors doing, and having a bit of a vision, you know. Whether that’s getting that right in-store first of all, and then introducing online. And let us come and talk to you, you know, we are very different to any other retail solution. We’re not about just coming out and selling to a retailer, it’s about having a system that is a good fit. It is a bout really trying to see if we can help them overcome their challenges.
ES: It is very interesting in terms of challenges that they are facing, you know, ensuring the provenance of diamonds is a very important initiative. I don’t know if you’re aware, but De Beers have recently launched a project that uses blockchain which creates a record each time gems change hands starting the moment they are dug from the ground. And De Beers have done this to make sure that gems are not sourced from conflict zones where gems could be used to finance violence.
On a simpler note, jewellers have expensive stock and often only hold one of each item in a specific size, so again, going back to stock control, its important that it’s accurate and that information is easily accessible, and that’s extremely important to omnichannel.
RE: That is right. And having access to this data, rather than opinion of staff, of how many products you’ve sold. It’s that actual, accurate data that will help reduce your stock holding and increase the cash in your business because you’re no longer making bad decisions, you’re making decisions based on the data that is clearly in front of you.
ES: Absolutely, but the other thing is just understanding the market as well. You know, their customers shopping habits, harvesting the data and then understanding what to do with the data. A massive part of our system as well is being GDPR compliant and managing that data. That’s a huge asset for any retailer.
RE: And having that I guess kind of manage itself in a way tell you when you’re not compliant.
ES: Absolutely, you know if a customer asks, for example, you know, email me a receipt, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have opted into your marketing. It’s how a point of sale software can actually determine that as well, and how you’re going to have certain categories within the system, certain checkboxes, and that’s all built within Cybertill. We’ll be honest, we’ve spoken to a number of jewellery retailers that are using other competitor systems, and that is not available. We are hearing that other systems are having to rewrite the whole version of their software. With Cybertill, we were planning for this 12-18 months in advance.
RE: It’s one of the reasons that I wanted to talk to you today, Elaine. Because it’s clear that you’re obviously at the forefront of change in the industry, especially at the point of sale and retail management. Getting more insight into your experience with jewellers and helping them to move forward with their business. It’s one of the reasons that I wanted to talk today. It’s great to hear the insights that you have, is there anything else that you think jewellers should know about technology in general, or cloud-based services that are out there?
ES: We’ve done some research recently into the top 30 multichannel jewellery retailers. You can actually download that for free here.
That’s a really good insight into some of the trends, and what we’re finding in the jewellery market. But I would just ay, embrace cloud technology. It’s the way forward, you can do anything from any device, anywhere, the infrastructure is extremely secure, all data is help in level 1 datacentres, and not on your local PC or till giving retailers one less thing to worry about.
RE: And that literally is the difference between a local software that’s probably a bit of a dinosaur now, and cloud software. When you’re using cloud software, its never held locally on your computer, its always held securely on servers.
ES: Absolutely. And if you’re in the UK, all data is held in the European Union, so it adheres to the EU data protection laws, the infrastructure is huge in terms of us as a company, we employ 95 people here at our head office, and we process over 60 million transactions a year for our customers. So, as you can appreciate, we’ve got customers but we also have their customers data to look after. It’s extremely secure.
RE: It’s a hot topic right now with GDPR.
ES: Absolutely, and we take that very seriously. One thing I would like to add, Ryan, if you don’t mind, is we are an ISO 27001 and 9001 accredited business. With data, we take that very seriously. We get audited every year.
RE: And for those listeners who are, who want to look more into your cloud solution, how can they get in touch?
ES: They can visit the website, they can find us on social media, on the website there are some things specific to the jewellery sector, there are some videos on YouTube, and there has been coverage in Professional Jeweller as well, so there are plenty of resources available online. But if anybody is interested in finding out more, they achieve that, by a webinar, or a face to face meeting.
RE: Thank you very much for such a great insight into cloud technology and especially the epos and retail management systems jewellers should be using. It’s clear that you’ve got a great solution here, and I urge anyone who’s interested in this to get in touch.
ES: Thank you, Ryan.
Elaine Scott is an expert in omnichannel retailing in specialist sectors such as jewellery. She has helped retailers from one store to hundreds of stores manage their business more effectively with Cybertill’s retail management software. A recognised thought leader in the jewellery sector, she has been published in Professional Jeweller magazine talking about omnichannel retailing. If you are a jeweller interested in digital transformation, please email Elaine directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or arrange a demo of our jewellery retail software.