As someone with a dual role in the watch industry , I ’ ve had what is probably an unusual vantage point on many things . My colleague Marc Frankel of Island Watch certainly knows what I am referring to as well . Having a position working in the editorial world and being a watch distributor and manufacturer is not an easy mission to juggle , but it also makes for an interesting perspective .
This has been a challenging year for everyone in any business , but would seem to be an even tougher for people selling what is primarily a luxury item like watches . ( I realize just how much of an understatement what you just read is ). When the first “ shelter in place ” orders started to come in from state governments , we had customers cancelling orders and thought we may be looking at a significant downturn in business . Like most everyone , I ’ m sure , we worried we may be looking at much worse than a downturn .
As the days and weeks went on , we started to realize that not only did it seem we really weren ’ t losing business but started to see year-over-year growth , especially in the areas where we were selling strictly online . We found this , not surprisingly , surprising to say the least . It became pretty clear , really fast that online sales were going to be the key to making it work in the watch business in the short term .
Having spoken to several online watch retailers and the ones we work directly with , this axiom seemed to hold true . With some ups and downs and several seeing a drop in international orders , including us , total online sales were staying strong if not seeing significant increases . The watch buyer was still there and still looking for their next watch . It seemed the ones walking into stores were now whipping out their phone and PC and moving their watch buying habits online , or at least increasing what they bought online .
Let me be clear , we are thankful for every single sale in this situation and we don ’ t feel smarter than anyone . This is just one of those situations nobody could plan for and having the correctly working selling channel as much happenstance as anything . When it comes to things like this , I feel quite odd offering advice to anyone as I know our situation could change on a dime . We don ’ t take anything for granted right now .
The main thing I would share is that working to have closer , direct relationships with your customers that foster real loyalty is the most valuable effort anyone can make right now . We know that has made a huge difference for us . And , obviously , any retailer who doesn ’ t have an online component of their business , yesterday was the time to build one and today is , hopefully , not too late .
Those of us here at About Time wish all the watch retailers out there our absolute best and hope that each and every one of you have figured out a way to make it work and survive . We are all looking forward to “ normal ” again , whatever that is going to look like , and hope all of us come out the other side of this stronger , or at least smarter .