Simplify the pickup process, make it easy to buy online and collect from the store without having to wait around.
Implement a flexible return policy, maybe even a home try on program.
Make your customers feel heard and maintain the human connection by having a customer service team that is available at all times.
As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sacha Griguer, CEO of Magal jewelry group.
Sacha began his career in tech as a user experience and interface designer. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Sacha moved from France to NYC to receive his MBA, where he met his wife Galith. Coming from a family of diamond dealers and having a degree from the Gemological Institute of America, Galith’s knowledge of jewelry merged perfectly with Sacha’s tech and business background to create a jewelry company like none other. By eliminating the middleman, Magal-Group brands are both affordable and high quality. All diamonds are Kimberly Process approved and materials are 100% ethically-sourced and sustainable. Magal Group aims to disrupt the jewelry industry with their innovative technology, unique style and exceptional customer service.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started my career in tech as a user experience and interface designer. I’ve moved from France to New York City to get my MBA where I met my wife Galith, who comes from a family of diamond dealers and has a degree from the Gemological Institute of America. Galith’s knowledge of jewelry merged perfectly with my tech and business background and we started our jewelry business.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
When we first started, we wanted to open a few retail stores around the states. Eventually we only stayed with our website and gave up the idea of opening stores, something we’re really grateful for with everything that is going on in the world right now.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
I’m not sure it’s a mistake but it was definitely a lesson- seven months after we launched, we started working with an American PR company. They were also in charge of gifting influencers and an opportunity to work with Kylie Jenner came up when her girl was born. They told us about it 12 days before the deadline and we were in such a rush to meet it, we put all the effort we had at the time to make sure we sent her a perfect package. Eventually we shipped it on time and it arrived to her personal shopper broken. It was devastating for us but I’ve learned that at the end of the day, there’s really a slight chance of something like that actually happening and that we need to mostly count on ourselves to grow.
Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
We’re currently investigating the possibility of a home try-on program in the near future. In the long run, virtual try-on is something that we are really interested in. More than that, we’re always looking for ways to make our user’s experience more personalized- right now we’re working on a much better customizer for our website that will allow customers to see exactly the piece that they’re going to get.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I recently read an article talking about the mistakes of small business owners and one of them that I would recommend learning from is don’t do too much yourself. Do what you’re best at, and hire others to do what they’re best at. More than that, try to always stay grounded, and read as much as you can.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am really grateful for my team that I’ve established. When we started working, I tried doing everything myself and it didn’t take a lot of time until I realized I need other people to do what they’re best at, and it’s been great ever since.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We’ve created a necklace a while back and donated the proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, recently we also released a vote necklace and donated the proceeds to vote.org. We are constantly looking for ways to make the world a better place and collaborate with organizations that align with our values as a company.
Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share five examples of different ideas that large retail outlets are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
- Simplify the pickup process, make it easy to buy online and collect from the store without having to wait around.
- Implement a flexible return policy, maybe even a home try on program
- Work on the user interface of your website, make it feel more homey and less like a supermarket.
- If it’s possible and relevant to your product, a live preview on your website is a must
- Make your customers feel heard and maintain the human connection by having a customer service team that is available at all times.
In your opinion, will retail stores or malls continue to exist? How would you articulate the role of physical retail spaces at a time when online commerce platforms like Amazon Prime or Instacart can deliver the same day or the next day?
I think at the end of the day, people really like feeling the fabric and seeing the product with their eyes, something that retailers provide and services like Amazon Prime could never. However I do believe eventually a mall will be more like a showroom or an exhibit and that the traffic will never be the same.
The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?
I think it’s really important to think about your operating margin and how exactly you’re spending your money. There’s a common strategy of opening stores wherever and to focus mainly on growth, however I believe that once your brand is established, you need to think twice before opening a store.
Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise to retail companies and e-commerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
I don’t think these kinds of companies need to be considered as a competitor, as long as you’re offering an original product and a unique interface in your website. It’s like comparing WholeFoods to Target. The experience is completely different, and larger doesn’t necessarily mean best.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to find a way to identify young talents from emerging countries and make sure they get the recognition they deserve. Exactly a year ago I was volunteering in Kenya at a local school and I discovered a surprising number of talented young, aspiring designers there that I’m sure with the right connections could get the success they deserve
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can follow our brands on social media, @thesparklane @magaljewelry @adorned_official and always feel free to send me an email personally at [email protected]
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!