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To run a successful retail jewelry store, it’s vitally important to find the right suppliers. You’ll need to source jewelry of high-quality, while also ensuring the jewelry you choose is appropriate for the type of store you want to be and the price range of your customers. Cultivating and navigating supplier relationships can seem like a daunting task, but with the right strategies, these relationships can be rewarding for the suppliers, for your customers, and for your business. In this blog, you’ll learn how to identify if a supplier is right for you, how to ensure quality, how to scale your supply responsibly, and more.


Understanding Your Jewelry Business Needs

There are many different types of jewelry stores. Some carry more basic jewelry, while others house rare, higher-end items. Some are mom and pop shops, while others are large chains. As a jewelry store owner, it’s important to define what kind of jewelry store you want your store to be. This decision may be influenced by your level of expertise, your geographic location, your target audience, and local competition. Making this decision will help you determine your unique selling proposition.

Once you’ve decided what kind of store you want to run, you’ll need to identify the types of jewelry you’ll offer and your standards of quality. Not every store needs to sell high-end jewelry. Stores with more basic offerings appeal to a wide array of consumers and can see great success. However, even basic jewelry must meet a standard of quality. Jewelry that is easily damaged or of a lower quality than advertised will not help you build a good reputation.


Researching Potential Suppliers

You’ll be well served by conducting some research on suppliers before committing to working with one, and there are a variety of types of suppliers to consider. A few examples include manufacturers, wholesalers, and artisans. Like retail jewelry stores, the supplier market covers a vast range of price and quality, from rare high-end luxury items, to more affordable, standard fare. Artisan jewelers tend to create unique pieces by hand, while manufacturers mass produce jewelry and wholesalers offer an array of products they’ve purchased themselves.

There are many factors to consider when determining what suppliers you will work with. Consider your price range, what your customers are likely willing to pay, and the brand you want to build. You can gather a lot of information about suppliers from the internet. Collect information on price, supplier policies, quality, customer reviews, general reputation, and more. You can also gain information by attending trade shows and joining industry associations. Be sure to get a good sense of a supplier’s reputation, including their reliability and the quality of their products. Once you have a good sense of your options, select one or a few that you think could be a good fit for your business.


Establishing Supplier Relationships

Once you’ve identified a few suppliers that are aligned with the kind of jewelry store you want to create, go ahead and reach out to them. Make sure to be friendly and courteous. You could potentially be working with this organization for years to come, so you don’t want to start off on the right foot. Before negotiating the terms of the agreement, make sure you’ve done your research. Having a general knowledge of industry trends and what certain kinds of jewelry are worth at any given time will help you negotiate intelligently, and identify if a supplier’s price has been inflated or is a good deal for you. Negotiate with the supplier based on what you think are reasonable amounts for price and minimum order quantity and sustainable terms of payment. Placing a larger order may allow you to negotiate discounts in price, but don’t order more inventory than you think you’ll reasonably be able to sell.

It’s important to communicate clearly and be transparent with suppliers. Attention to detail is crucial as you place orders, resolve issues, and discuss the terms of the partnership. Adding an extra zero to the end of an order by mistake could have major consequences, and dishonesty will always be damaging to your operations. Being transparent will build trust with your supplier and ensure a quality relationship that will be beneficial to both parties.


Ensuring Quality Control

Be mindful of the quality of a supplier’s products throughout the process. Before committing to a supplier, make sure that the products they offer are of quality, and keep a close eye on their products once you receive them. It’s important to inspect samples of the products you receive. Some suppliers have certifications of quality, and it’s always a good idea to request these if available.

As you work with suppliers, there may be issues of quality. If you find some of the product has shown up broken or damaged, let your supplier know and give them a chance to resolve the issue. If issues like this become routine, you may need to stop working with this supplier. If you discover a supplier has knowingly sold you jewelry that is not what it purports to be, it’s in your best interest to stop working with them. Selling counterfeit products can destroy your reputation and your business. Developing a standard quality control process and training your employees on it will help you stay consistent and ensure continued quality.


Managing Inventory and Logistics

Inventory management is an essential consideration for all retail stores, and with such valuable inventory, it is especially important for jewelry stores. Maintaining strategic inventory levels will take time and require close attention to sales numbers. Using a sophisticated point-of-sale system will help you track this and other metrics so you can accurately forecast your future sales. Jewel 360’s all-in-one system provides a wealth of financial data and allows you to make predictions about future sales, helping you to order an appropriate amount of inventory.

If you choose to sell online, you’ll also have to consider shipping options. Depending on the size of your operation, you could ship products yourself using USPS, UPS, FedEx, or other services, or you could use fulfillment services. Going through a third party entails additional fees but can reduce logistical concerns, speed up the shipping process, and ensure round-the-clock customer service. Dropshipping, which typically means a retailer never even sees the product as it travels from manufacturer to their customer, has become more popular in recent years.

By leveraging data and choosing the appropriate order fulfillment process for your business, you can manage your inventory successfully and maintain optimal stock levels.


Evaluating Supplier Performance

Even when a supplier has been secured, it’s important to continually evaluate if the supplier is meeting your standards. Are they reliable in providing the products they promised during the agreed-upon time frame? Are they quick to respond when you reach out to them? Do the products they provide consistently meet quality standards?

It would be beneficial to establish a routine supplier evaluation in which you answer these questions. It’s also beneficial to gather feedback from your customers to make sure they’re satisfied with the product and their experience. Asking for online reviews and paying attention to the ones you get may reveal supplier or shipping issues you weren’t aware of. If there are issues, be careful to investigate where the issues originated. You’d hate to blame your supplier for a shipping issue out of their control. However, once you’ve identified the source of the issue, take care to resolve it promptly.

Utilizing multiple suppliers is also a good idea. Having multiple sources of product can mitigate risk if you experience issues with one of them. You’ll also be better equipped to adapt to market changes by having greater access to a variety of products.


Scaling Your Sourcing Strategy

As your business grows, you may find yourself unable to fill all of the orders you receive. You may also find your customers bored if your inventory seems stagnant. If you find yourself facing these issues, you may need to expand your operations to meet demand. This may mean partnering with more suppliers, which will also help you add variety to your product offerings. Testing out new products and markets is a great way to grow your business.

As market dynamics and customer preferences change, new products come into style and old ones will become less prominent. Work with your suppliers to procure new, high-demand products, and if necessary, find new suppliers who can provide these items, which will keep customers interested.


Your Supplier Strategy

Establishing strong relationships with the right suppliers is an essential factor in your jewelry business’ success. It starts with understanding what kind of jewelry store you want to run, gathering information about various suppliers, and determining which suppliers will help you achieve your business’ goals. You’ll also need to continuously monitor the quality of your inventory, strategically manage your inventory levels, and find opportunities to expand your operations when those opportunities present themselves. By intelligently and intentionally navigating your relationships with suppliers, you can keep your retail jewel store stocked with great merchandise for years to come.

Jewel360 is an all-in-one point of sale software for jewelry retail businesses. Learn more about Jewel360 today and request a demo!