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Small moments, great memories: A lifelong companion

Interview with Nina Müller, Company Manager of CHRIST Uhren & Schmuck AG

There is hardly anyone who has never received or given a present bought at CHRIST. The company offers a broad range of jewelry from upscale bijouterie to premium items. Besides its own line of products, CHRIST also specializes in repairs and adjustments of jewelry and watches, and is therefore not only a reliable reseller, but a design brand with a strong focus on technical expertise. Having grown for decades, CHRIST’s turnover from digital sales has been listing three-digit growth since 2012. “These are great figures, and they come with considerable challenges,” says Company Manager Nina Müller. “In the fall, we relaunched our website to be able to meet the growing online demand and to remain competitive. Our strategy is to become the leading omnichannel watch and jewelry retailer in Switzerland. This is quite a challenge!"

The company, originally founded in Frankfurt, Germany in 1863, became independent in Switzerland following a decisive split in 2004. Today, as part of Switzerland’s largest business group, Coop, CHRIST is the country’s leading and most trusted jeweler and watch specialist. In order to sustain its heritage, hard work is required, especially with regard to maintaining its competitiveness in the face of digitization.

“The market used to be less complicated,” Ms. Müller continues. “With shopping habits trending towards the internet, increased homogenization of shopping high streets and the closing of numerous stores as a result, offline shopping has to be redefined.” As a consequence, CHRIST must learn to surf the digital wave and, at the same time, stick to its core values – including the ideal that shopping should remain a pleasant experience.

“Humans are part of this experience,” Ms. Müller insists. “There is no compromise for the value of getting an immediate impression of a product on-site prior to buying it. We have been developing strategies to facilitate just that and help our customers feel both the benefits of shopping online and the appreciation of real life shopping.”

This is why CHRIST's online shop strongly emphasizes its click&reserve and click&collect options. This way, customers know that the products they favour will be available when they drop in. With many of the stores being currently refurbished, CHRIST seeks to demonstrate its readiness to compete with the digital markets. “With a more airy and modern design, they will invite customers to walk in and take some of that threshold pressure away from them,” says Ms. Müller, as with every delivery picked up at the nearest CHRIST shop, there is a chance to make a lasting impression inside the physical store and bring some of the online shoppers back. In order to facilitate the experience for online shoppers even more, CHRIST is seeking to expand its delivery network and pick up concept to other retail formats within the Coop Group, such as petrol stations and supermarkets with long opening hours. “You must be willing to go your own way to make your product as available as possible without forfeiting quality,” says Ms. Müller. “You must be open for new things, and we are.”

With such investment and opportunities, every moment in the stores is of utmost importance. And so is personal contact with every potential customer. This is where CHRIST’s long tradition of excellent customer service and well-trained staff comes in. “Just as much as customers wish to see, touch, and try our products, we wish to engage with our clients to be able to customize our services,” says Ms. Müller. “This is also why we are constantly looking for ideal locations that enable easy access for all our customers. We are creating hubs for the physical community and those that shop online and drop in to pick up their deliveries. We must be quick and adaptive to demonstrate our expertise in every dimension possible - that is what we work for.”

At the same time, CHRIST is pushing in two directions: conquering the web while strategically building on its heritage. And this, undoubtedly, is its greatest asset. “In Switzerland, CHRIST accompanies your entire life,” Ms. Müller explains. “Customers tend to have entire narratives woven into their histories with CHRIST. They’ve had their ears pierced here, bought their first pair of earrings and their wedding rings. Small moments – great memories; we must live up to our motto to be Switzerland’s jeweller of choice.”

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