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KPMG Study: Retailers Will Invest in Technology
   U.S. retail executives plan to increase capital spending this year and strongly emphasize the use of technology to manage their business, according to the 2013 Retail Outlook Survey by KPMG LLP, a U.S. consulting firm. “Technology is paramount to driving growth and enhancing customer engagement for retailers,” said Mark Larson, KPMG’s global retail leader. “With consumer behavior, spending and demographic profiles changing rapidly, it is absolutely critical that companies take an omnichannel approach to engage consumers, utilizing all the platforms at their disposal, including brick and mortar, online and mobile.”
   Among the survey results:
  • 58 percent will increase capital investment in 2013, 27 percent expect it to remain the same as in 2012 and 15 percent plan to reduce spending. 
  • More than 60 percent expect to spend on geographic expansion plans, while 40 percent will invest in technology and 24 percent will add to their advertising and marketing programs.
  • 71 percent of executives identified social media as having a “significant impact” on retail business, followed by mobile and online shopping at 52 percent and online promotions and coupons at 51 percent. 
  • KPMG found a 13 percent jump in the number of executives who said their companies are using social media to reach more customers and explore new ways of doing business compared with 2012.
  • 72 percent of executives said that data analytics played a key role in customer insight, 67 percent said they used it for branding and product management and 56 percent reported that it impacted pricing decisions. However, 43 percent rated their company’s data analytics literacy as “average.”
  • 74 percent of retail executives have already seen sales increases compared with last year.
Graff Named Most Prestigious Luxury Brand
   Graff Diamonds was named the “Most Prestigious Brand in Luxury Jewellery” for the fourth consecutive year, according to U.S. consumers surveyed by the Luxury Institute.
   In announcing the news, Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, cited the company’s “impeccable product coupled with an extraordinary client experience” as contributing to this recognition.

Tiffany & Co. to Open in Russia
   Tiffany & Co. announced plans to open its first retail outlet in Russia, a two-level store in Moscow’s GUM department store, located in Red Square. The store will be approximately 4,520 square feet and is expected to open in spring 2014. According to the company, it marks a “milestone” in their growth strategy and recognized the importance of the Russian market.
   The store’s interior will feature archival motifs symbolic of the company’s history and design, including the color “Tiffany blue,” and polished stainless steel details with a wheat leaf pattern like the one that frames the entrance of the jeweler’s Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York. The décor will also feature marble and amazonite floors and custom furnishings inspired by the stained glass works of Art Nouveau designer Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the company’s founder.

Lazare Kaplan Marks Its 110th Anniversary by Giving Back
   Lazare Kaplan International Inc. (LKI) will celebrate its 110th anniversary this year by making charitable donations to multiple industry organizations.
   The company kicked off its Hearts for Hope charitable donation campaign at the Luxury/JCK shows in Las Vegas with a custom-made heart pendant, featuring a Lazare Diamond laser-inscribed with Hearts for Hope. For every pendant sold during the show, a donation of $110 was given to both Jewelers for Children (JFC) and The Lazare Ongoma Initiative (LOI).
   LKI created LOI in 2012 to raise awareness for a number of important causes in Africa, including improving and enhancing the educational experience in Namibia. Meaning drum in Swahili, ongoma is an instrument that makes sound and LKI designed the initiative to “make noise” about LOI’s mission.

Jeff Cooper Debuts Virtual Ring App
   Jeff Cooper, a New York-based jewelry designer, launched a new virtual try-on app that will “revolutionize the way consumers shop for wedding jewelry,” according to his press release. The app was first introduced to the trade at JCK’s Luxury show in Las Vegas.
   The app is tailored to the specific needs and desires of brides to be, who can now try on unlimited rings 24/7. It finds the customer’s favorite rings and shows her how it looks on her in real-time. While trying on the ring, customers can click on the pricing icon, compare similar and matching items, and even watch a product video.
   The app has the capability to take photos that can be shared on social media and can connect the consumer with an authorized retailer.

OGI Launches CFire System
   OGI Systems Group introduced CFire, a visual light performance system that enables the analysis and absolute grading of the diamond’s light performance and beauty, according to its statement. CFire evaluates gemstones of any shape, as well as branded gems, based on the standard for their shape and measured on four factors: brilliance, fire, scintillation and contrast. CFire-produced certificates can be used as approval of the diamond’s quality.
   The company explained that CFire provides jewelers and jewelry stores an innovative tool for promoting sales of jewelry and diamonds. Jewelers can offer the customer a “live scintallation” of the stone or show a comparison of two stones. They can also use this technology to allocate two stones of similar parameters and similar light performance so as to create a pair of identical earrings. Retailers can showcase their diamonds and jewelry by creating visual light images that can be shared on a website or social media pages via computer or smartphone.

Ultimate Theatrical Production Wins Proposal Contest
   The Jewelry Information Center (JIC) named Kevin Dietzler, the creator of “An Unforgettable Performance,” as the winner of its fourth annual “Ultimate Proposal Contest.” Dietzler produced a theatrical performance that also tapped the talents of family, friends and students to propose to his choreographer fiancée, Abby Shunskis.
   The performance took place in the same theatre in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, where the couple is currently choreographing a local school production. As the grand-prize winners, they received an “ultimate bridal shopping spree” that included a $1,000 gift card to Barry Jay Jewelers in Springfield, Pennsylvania and a $1,000 gift card to David’s Bridal. The prize also included a pair of Lenox Devotion champagne flutes, courtesy of Lenox, and a $25 American Express gift card, courtesy of Jewelers of America (JA). The JIC is the information arm of JA.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2013. To subscribe click here.

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