Regardless of what business you are in, it is essential to understand exactly where and how you add value for your customers. For a service company that means understanding the obstacles your customer faces and trying provide solutions as part of your services or products. Over the longer term this means recognising wider changes in your market and adapting to what emerges.
The UK’s hallmarking system was originally designed to service UK manufacturers by testing and hallmarking jewellery mid-way through the production process. The industry has changed and the majority of demand today is to service importers and retailers by hallmarking finished product.
I still remember when our customers, both large and small, had to fill in a form for every parcel they submitted. We now receive 80% of our product direct from factories on the other side of the planet. Our global tracking system allows factories to link their systems with ours for seamless transfer of data. Our customers are able to track their product in transit, through the hallmarking process and all the way to their door. Ten years ago we would not have believed this to be possible. Now it’s hard to imagine life without it.
The growth of e-commerce led us to develop the world’s only digital trust mark for online jewellery retailers and last year we extended our systems to provide a fulfilment service for online retailers, combining hallmarking with final mile delivery direct to on-line shoppers
In January we launched our Hallmarking in Transit service for pan European retailers, in conjunction with Malca Amit at Heathrow, London.
In each case our innovation has been driven primarily by listening to our customers. Whenever I hear a customer say “Is there any way we could do it this way?” I hear an opportunity. I know that where there is an obstacle for our customer, there is scope to improve our service.. Although change can be uncomfortable, it remains essential, and we find that as the market continues to evolve, we’ve become not only comfortable with that change but eager to find the next solution.
Scott Walter is chief assay master at the Edinburgh Assay Office.