Ben Bridge has closed a number of stores since emerging from lock down of non essential stores in states including California and Washington, but is maintaining sales by serving customers online, at other showrooms and directly in their homes and communities.
CEO Lisa Bridge tells WatchPro that the model of training sales associates to stand in stores waiting for customers to walk in has been exposed during and since the covid quarter, and a number of changes are permeating through the organization.
“We have chosen to close a number of stores that no longer make sense and our virtual appointments are increasing. All the in store teams, especially those working at indoor malls in California, are running virtual appointments and curbside,” she said in July.
One fascinating pilot project is the appointment of Ben Bridge’s first sales associate without any home store to work from.
The experiment is part of a rising trend of clienteling, where existing customers — often with a strong history of purchases with a jeweler — are contacted directly for a consultation that might take place in a cafe, home or garden.
“We also just appointed our first virtual salesperson because we want to see what it looks like to have an associate working permanently outside of a physical store,” Ms Bridge reveals.
The initiative is in line with the predictions of François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, who told WatchBox Studios over the summer that brick and mortar would become unnecessary to sell watches.
“We are going to call this dematerialization of retail. I don’t need four walls to sell you a watch tomorrow,” he suggests.