Talking shop: England’s watch retailers reopen

As watch boutiques across the country open their doors, we look at how the customer experience is changing both in-person and online

Watches & Jewellery 17 Jun 2020

David M Robinson

As England’s lockdown eases and shoppers cautiously return to the high street, the country’s watch boutiques have been working hard behind-the-scenes to ensure customers can enjoy a spot of retail therapy in a safe yet luxurious and familiar way. Throughout the crisis, many watch brands have ramped up their e-commerce offering in a sector that has normally shied away from digital, with watchmakers such as Ulysse Nardin beginning to sell their watches online for the first time this month. However, for many consumers, the purchase of such a high-end, personal product is deserving of an experience that cannot be replicated digitally. As we enter a new normal retailers are pulling out the stops to ensure this service is as seamless as possible.

As big names such as Omega, Breguet, Longines and Breitling reopen their flagship boutiques, they do so with a number of crucial measures in place, ranging from the now familiar two-metre social distancing, hand sanitiser and cashless payments to making facemasks available on request. Brands, including Breitling, are taking walk-ins, but have put in place a simple online booking system to reserve advance appointments to avoid any risk of queuing.

David M Robinson

David M Robinson owns boutiques across the country, and has implemented multiple measures such as the above to protect both customers and staff before opening their doors this week. Clients will now be asked to wear disposable gloves when trying on product, which will be thoroughly cleaned between presentations. ‘We can’t wait to welcome our friends back into DMR’s showrooms but only when they are ready,’ says managing director John Robinson. ‘The showroom will have some physical differences, glass screens on tables and the now ubiquitous hand sanitisers. The refreshments may be on hold but the warm welcome will always remain.’

However, they are one of many retailers who have recognised the shift in shopping habits, and acknowledge that there are still a number of customers who may not be able, or comfortable, to shop in person. With this in mind, David M Robinson will be introducing virtual appointments, with one of their experts on hand to showcase their offering to you in the comfort of your own home.

‘Evidently the number of virtual presentations and the number of home deliveries will continue to increase,’ explains Robinson. ‘We will do anything to make our clients lives easier, especially during this period of change.’ Only time will tell just how much the horological retail landscape is set to change in the months to come.