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"BGC introduced me to a Chinese factory who designed our exclusive brand for us."
-- Jewelry Brand Designer

 

Become a Global Player


That light at the end of the tunnel, just a flickering candle a few months ago, is much brighter. It’s definitely not an onrushing train, but something more promising – probably the end of the Recession.

The ‘light’ of the recovery will allow the battered jeweler to dust himself off and (finally) design a growth strategy with some confidence. The new jewelry landscape, however, is markedly different from the one he left when the economy was shrinking. It’s changed fast.

In fact, the winds of change is a hurricane. The jewelry industry is undergoing a notable transformation. No matter how many experts, professional or otherwise, rehash post-recession strategies, the jewelry consumer has grown in sophistication and savvy.

These ‘new’ consumers are looking for the best deals, the best styling and the best service. No longer will they accept outdated styling, over priced products and intrusive service. Thanks to the Internet, consumers are more sophisticated than ever.

So, by process of elimination, what can the jewelry executive do so he’s not standing at the bus station when his train leaves? In the age of instantaneous email communication, overnight delivery and relatively affordable airfares, it comes as no surprise the jewelry executive should set his sights on the global jewelry scene.

In certain parts of the world, creative jewelry designing has exploded. In other regions manufacturing costs have shriveled, quality has improved, shipping times and administrative hassles reduced.

The US is the largest importing country in the world and it is abundantly clear that the American jeweler should be included in the total. The question remains how to capitalize on how to design dynamic and lucrative international business strategies.

So, here’s a brief primer on international business – trade is a better word.

Phase I. Assuming you have decided to put your toe in the international business water – congratulations. Simply select one of these four countries – via the internet – through their aggressive trade promotion agencies.

  • Hong Kong,
  • Thailand,
  • Mexico,
  • China,

Select one, or a hundred, companies with styling you like. Contact that manufacturer via email. He – they – will fill you in on quality, prices and terms. Initially, the terms are quite stringent. But after you have done business together for a while terms can swing to 90 days. All funds are wired from your bank to his.

Delivery is usually 4 weeks, but with pressure, that can be reduced to two or three weeks. The manufacturer will deliver freight-on-board (“FOB”) – meaning to their nearest port. Getting the merchandise from there to your store is up to you.

FEDEX is the best jewelry shipper available. They will pick up the parcel from Hong Kong, for example, clear it through customs – they own their own customs facility -- and deliver it to your door, usually within 5 working days.

Phase II. Now that you are comfortable with buying from overseas, it’s time to get your passport and hop a plane to Hong Kong. While HK is a wonderful and vital city it also is the unofficial jewelry center of Asia – in my view anyway.

Thanks in part to the beautiful, bird shaped, exhibition center, the HK show grown to be the largest jewelry in the world (at least, so say its organizers). The extravaganza gets bigger and better every year.

The 4,500-or so exhibitors are arranged by global regions, Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, South America. You get the idea. You know you are in the right place when you bump into a buyer from a big jewelry chain, one from a TV home shopping network or even your competitor.

After you have selected and purchased the merchandise you need for the season, start taking notes on what global region appeals to you – and your customer – and will be hard to replicate by your competitor. Did I hear some say BRAND?

Once you have selected the region and manufacturers of choice, you are ready for the next and final phase.

Phase III: Once you are comfortable with “your” factory(s), it could be time to develop alliance(s). An alliance with a favorite manufacture could lead to special prices, delivery, exclusive designs, (the list is long). It just depends on creativity.

An established alliance could lead to acquisitions, mergers, joint venture or any other deal that you, your lawyer or accountant can devise. There’s nothing like having a formal – or

With implementation and foresight, you are now an international company, with the experience and partners to grow globally. You just need imagination and a willingness to become an international ‘player’.