For many, 2020 has meant more time online. As a result, a lot of us have become expert online shoppers.
Editor's Note: As statewide rules and regulations continue to change, please contact retailers for their latest store hours and delivery capabilities.
For retailers who do business online, that extra time and attention from shoppers has proven productive. We talked with Callie Callison, owner of Calli Co. Silver, a web-based shop for handcrafted sterling-silver jewelry, about doing business digitally while still building relationships with your customers.
What does your current business environment look like? Is it different than normal for you?
This is only my second year, so I am obviously growing. I am not sure what growth I can attribute to just natural growth or if there has been a surplus due to COVID. Because I’m still so new, I would expect in my second year I should see some growth. However, I have friends that are web-based, and they, for the most part, have seen growth. I know some clothing boutiques are struggling, but as far as other jewelry sellers, ones that have been in the business for quite some time, they are seeing an influx.
What has been the biggest challenge in adapting to this “new normal” the retail world has taken on?
The shutdowns have been challenging. I am a silversmith, so I handcraft many of my pieces myself, but I also work closely with many Navajo and Zuni artists, and the Navajo Nation and the Zuni reservation have been hit tremendously hard by COVID. All of our stone places that we source our stones from and the silver warehouses where we buy our raw materials, I was having trouble getting them for my handmade pieces, but I was also having trouble getting them for my artists. Essentially, our artists were locked down to just the reservation. They couldn’t go pick things up. They couldn’t go to town to mail things, so that has been a challenge.
How has your business adapted to producing digital content and sales? What has been your focus while speaking to your customers online?
We’ve been marketing hard on social media. With people working from home and people at home quarantined, they have more time. They’re on social media more. We’ve really been able to connect with our customers. Before, they would shop my website. Now we’ve been able to actually build relationships with them on social media. It’s just really neat that they’re shopping my Instagram before they shop my website, and through Instagram I get to know them, and they can ask me questions. If this piece doesn’t work, I can say, ‘Hey, I know you like this one, but this one may might fit you better,’ so that’s pretty cool. I think 2020 has made it more of a personal [online] buying experience. We’ve been able to personally connect with people more. I guess it’s got to have something to do with the way the shutdown has slowed things down. People just have more time to browse social media or ask their questions, or really dive into buying a piece of jewelry, whereas, [before] online they would just put it in their cart, buy it, and that’s it.
Has anything particular resonated with your audience?
Most of the girls do fashion. They do all of these lifestyle photoshoots. People joke and say my hand is Instagram-famous, because my face is never on Instagram. It’s just my hand and a very high-resolution photo of the jewelry on my hand or on my arm, and that’s it. But I think that that’s my niche. I think people obviously follow me because they like the way I photograph it. And maybe they follow the other girls because they like the lifestyle and fashion stuff, but my market is just kind-of the jewelry. I don’t bombard them with myself, just straight jewels.
What other highlights have you noticed?
I know that many people are going to be forced to buy online for the holidays. So many people are going to be unable to visit malls and shopping centers because of all these shutdowns, so they’re going to be turning to online. So from now until Christmas, I have specific sales. I actually started planning for these in May. We’re going to do sales by collections. Various sales started [already], and I’m going to continue them all the way up until Christmas, because I know so many people are going to be shopping online. All of these people that go [do] Black Friday in person and really rely on that to fill their Christmas list, lots of them aren’t going to be able to do that. So I’m doing huge Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and then I will be doing sales up until Christmas.
What are shoppers looking for right now from Western businesses? Have you noticed any buying trends?
Color is really big right now. It’s all retro, vintage, old-school vibes, stones that were in style years ago and had kind-of gone out. Turquoise of course is timeless. It will always be a thing, but we’re seeing more color with the turquoise, spiny oyster shell, and coral. All of the vintage vibes that were ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, that had kind-of died, and you were seeing straight turquoise—the color is back, all of the retro detail, inlay stuff, just everything vintage.
Do you have any tips for other Western businesses looking to take their business online right now?
I think website simplicity is the key—just a really simple website that is easy to navigate. You don’t want shoppers to have to hunt and look around. The easier the website, the better. I think before, the average decision rate in online shopping was like a minute and a half. Now it’s four seconds, so if they don’t find what they’re looking for in four seconds, they’re done, they’re on to the next page, they’re over it. So there is just a ton of pressure on having your website as easy to navigate as possible. I think that’s the most important.
This interview is part of an ongoing series that W&E is conducting with retailers. Click here to peruse more stories and interviews from the retail industry.