By Sherry Smith
Sherry Smith is director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy. She can be reached at
The retail model continues to evolve at an exponential rate.

Today, small is the new big, less is more and the word “omnichannel” has become passé.

This shifting retail landscape has left our independent jewelry retailers in search of the “next best thing” and vigorously seeking a competitive edge—better ways to reach customers, more efficient customer journeys and opportunities to proactively meet customer needs.

The role of data is more significant than ever, which is why The Edge Retail Academy is now working with National Jeweler to bring readers “On Data,” a regular column by yours truly that contains valuable information on what’s selling and what’s not.

In this first column, we’ll look at how independent jewelers are faring so far in 2019, as well as delve into the importance of data.

The Figures
The Edge Retail Academy’s aggregated data from more than 1,100 independent retailers show sales are up 1.7 percent rolling 12 months ending October 2019.

It might surprise independent retailers to know they’re outperforming the majors.

Tiffany reported comparable sales in the Americas decreased 4 percent in the third quarter and were down 5 percent in the first half.

Signet same-store sales were down 1.4 percent year-to-date at the end of the second quarter, though the massive retailer showed improvement in Q3 thanks its North American stores and online sales.

Historically, the diamond category has made up approximately 50 to 51 percent of annual jewelry sales, but in the month of October it slipped a bit, representing 45.5 percent.

The diamond category was up 11 percent in gross sales for the month of October and up 3 percent in average retail sale, which climbed from $2,213 to $2,379.

Why Numbers Matter
It’s all about the data.

In its 2018 study titled “How Analytics and Digital Will Drive Next Generation Retail Merchandising,” McKinsey stated: “Winning decisions are increasingly driven by analytics more than instinct, experience or merchant ‘art.’

“By leveraging smarter tools—those beyond backward-looking, ‘hind-sighting’ analysis—retailers can increasingly make forward-looking predictions that are quickly becoming the ‘table stakes’ necessary to keep up.”

Owners and buyers no longer need to rely solely, nor should they, on their instincts.

Independent retailers now have access to approximately $2 billion in annual jewelry sales data, thanks to Edge Pulse. Edge Pulse allows Edge users to log in from anywhere at any time to access their data as well as industry stats.

This big data means a greater understanding of patterns, trends and consumer shopping habits.

It is easy to now ascertain the top-performing categories or how a given vendor is trending.

A retailer can benchmark their performance against the aggregated industry performance and trends.

They can also quickly determine if they are missing best sellers from the very vendors with whom they’re currently doing business.

According to a recent study conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, 62 percent of retailers report the use of information, including big data, and analytics are creating a competitive advantage for their organizations.

Knowing where you stand relative to other retailers, while not a game changer in and of itself, is a useful benchmark.

Understanding market trends, pricing and category performance is the best complement to your instincts and experience.

Your daily and weekly routine should include a review of your data, as well as real-time aggregated data, to make more informed and intelligent business decisions.

These insights will enable you to better understand which products or services are in demand and, quite frankly, help you to manage your business more efficiently.

We’ve come off a great month in October. Let’s build on that momentum with relevant and useful data.

Have a great holiday season!

Sherry Smith is director of business development for data and consulting company The Edge Retail Academy. Her 30 years in the jewelry industry includes 20 as principal partner in two jewelry stores. As director of business development, Smith works with wholesalers, brands and retail stores on business mentoring and data analysis and aggregation. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.