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04 september 2017

oksana_senatorova_xx.jpgOksana Senatorova has been famous in the jewellery world for a long time as a publisher of the ‘Navigator in the Jewellery Trade’ journal, organizer of the international contest ‘The Best Jewellery Store of the Year’, curator of professional events and industry workshops on sales in the jewellery sector and an active blogger. She was given credit for her achievements and merits with a ‘Memorial Faberge Foundation’ award. Oksana Senatorova answered the questions of Rough&Polished.

Recently, the contest ‘The Best Jewellery Store of the Year’ has been held. What is its purpose and who are its participants?

The international contest ‘The Best Jewellery Store of the Year’ is a centerpiece in the Russian and CIS’s jewellery industry during the last 16 years. It is not an overstatement to say that all the jewelers know about it. All the industry players – both traders and manufacturers – come to Moscow in June every year to take part in the ceremony of awarding the winners. From the point of view of the PR and marketing, it is prestigious to win the title of ‘the Best’ and enjoy it for the whole year. And we strive for making our prize – the Pallas Athena statuette – a kind of the jewellery ‘Oscar’ in our sector.

The contest has been held by our ‘Navigator in the Jewellery Trade’ journal since 2002. Over 16 years, 3,258 jewellery stores from Russia and abroad - even from Italy - have taken part in it, but mainly the stores from the CIS countries. Nowadays, due to the crisis and political issues, the number of the participating countries decreased, the Ukraine does not take part… However, the contest is still alive and 506 jewellery stores have become winners over the time of its existence. They are the pride of our industry, the best of the best!

A competent jury awards the distinguished title of a winner based on the very strict criteria. The contest is supported by the Chamber of Assay of Russia, Gohran (State Precious Metals and Gems Repository) of Russia and the Jewellers’ Guild of Russia. The main nominations include Grand Prix, ‘The Best Decoration of the Retail Space’, ‘Jewellery Chains’, special awards like ‘The Best Organization of Sales’, ‘The Best Watch Store’, etc.

The main purpose of the contest ‘The Best Jewellery Store of the Year’ is to support and reward the professionals in the organization of jewellery sales. As you know, the marked dropped drastically, but still some ambitious store owners make renovations while preparing to the contest, and also rebrand, reequip and sometimes, we wait to the last moment for those who open a new store …

Internet-sales of jewellery are not a fresh topic. But lately, it has become a matter of considerable debate. There are diverse judgements upon the subject. What is your opinion about this type of trade?

The principle of trade is changing very considerably all over the world. Actually, the goods sales are going to the online space, and brick-and-mortar shops are becoming show rooms where a consumer really chooses a jewellery piece, tries it on, identifies it by a tag and then orders it online where the price could be less just because the online shop operating costs are much lower than those of an offline one.

Right now, the online jewellery selling looks like an order of a piece that is received and paid for in a special pick-up point, including doing this in a jewellery store.

What is your opinion about the online jewellery trading constraints?

Certainly, we want them to be lifted. The problems occurring in the online sales can be easily solved. I told this repeatedly at the meetings of the Public Council under the Chamber of Assay of Russia on this subject. The state bodies have active discussions with the jewelers, take into account their opinions and we hope that soon all the legislative issues will be settled.

Not to become just a show room, it is necessary to build and nurture relationships with your target customers, share a common language, and educate them, after all.

The Internet trade is the thing of the future. That is why today people live in two realities at the same time – in the true one and the virtual one. All our customers are in the internet and we should make use of this. Besides, online technologies are improving all the time. Even now, it is possible to present a jewellery piece on the website as a live one, show all its beauty and uniqueness.

How an active participation in the social networking sites could revive and optimize the jewellery industry?

Practically all Russians are present in the Internet. The audience of Одноклассники (Odnoklassniki/ Classmates) and ВКонтакте (VKontakte/InContact), according to independent data, amounts to 140 mln people! Even taking errors and profile pages overlapping into account, it is a great many people. And people not just make fun in the social media, they make purchases there. That is why jewellery stores, companies and brands which will be the first to use the technologies of promotion and sales via social media will gain huge competitive advantages. And a manifold increase in sales, too. No doubt, this will be for the benefit of all our industry as a whole. The rest will have no choice but reach after the leaders and master their work in the social media.

That is why on September 25-26, 2017 we arrange the first training session ‘Managing the online for jewelers’

Tell us about this workshop in more details: how will it be held and what are your expectations?

We organize 2-day training session.

Day 1: ‘Promotion of jewellery, companies and brands in the social media’. Training will be in the Mail.Ru Group Tower in Leningradsky Avenue, Moscow. Mail.Ru Group unites many platforms and services, it owns the top social media Одноклассники and ВКонтакте with their huge audience. The Mail.Ru Group experts will tell you clearly, easy-to-understand and in an algorithmic manner using the cases from the jewellery industry and luxury market how to efficiently promote your business in their social media.

Day 2: ‘Online POS (point of sale): How to survive after Federal Law 54-FZ’. We will listen to the Яндекс.Деньги. (Yandex. Money.) experts’ advices and follow them. And then some.

There are many reasons to get training with us, and I will mention the main ones:

First: It is first-hand training – the best online experts conduct training, and not we do this. The editor-in-chief and myself are also among the participants in this workshop.

Second: Specially for the jewelers, the online cases from jewellery industry and luxury market are arranged. I cannot tell in advance whether many good examples could be found. But those that are at hand, of course, will be reviewed. In future, we will propose the brave jewelers to give their cases for after-action reviewing by the experts.

Third: There are programmes for executives. Rather often we hear something like “As for the online marketing, I myself do not know oats. So it is not my bag …». At that moment, I set my words half a tone higher: “That is just a splendid thing for you! Word!

There are minimum two reasons: it is necessary to improve all the time! Once you stop and decide that you do not need this any more and that you know much already … you are lost. Alas! And there is one more – practical – reason: how to control what is proposed by those who are ‘not knowledgeable’? How to understand that the resource that an employee or outsourcer askes for is adequate to the result? You can do it once you mastered the technology and know what's what!

You actively visit the exhibitions and fairs, make presentations and arrange ‘round tables’. What the jewellery means for you – are they just goods in the professional sphere?

I work in the information space of the jewellery industry, so it is part of my profession to be always in the thick of action. I am proud of the confidence of those who know about ’Navigator’, subscribe for it and like it, and I recognize my responsibility. I want very much to see jewellery stores full of customers, so in addition to the journal, we always have some other interesting and useful projects.

But I also love jewellery and am happy to wear it.

It is interesting to know what are your preferences?

Pearls are among my favourites. Well, of course, diamonds! I have got grown up daughters and I allow them wear something from my jewellery box.

Any new trends in the jewellery?

The purchasing power dropped but it is possible to maintain the market. Now, the demand for gold pieces is less than that for silver ones, which is understandable: the value of one kilogramme of gold equals to that of 40 kg of silver. In silver pieces, the fashion trends, modern style and unusual design are more important than ever before, gems should be bright and jewellery should be eye-catching – it is important to change the assortment when market is falling. Nowadays, diamonds are used even with silver settings, which never happened!

As far as I know, you are a physician by education, but you are a society lady and has been in the jewellery sector for a long time. How did you come to it, what attracts you?

Having three children made me alter my way of living drastically and leave medicine. When you have many children, there are not many employers ready to hire you.

It happened so that I started to do what had fallen into my hands - publish a journal. The ‘Navigator in the Jewellery Trade’ journal has been published since 2001 and have been working there since 2004. At first, I was glad to realize my potential in something and later on, an interest appeared in the jewellery and – which is more important – enthusiasm to excel everybody at doing my job!

By Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished

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