Gerry Browne Jewellers: “Investing in social media was crucial and it didn’t cost the earth”

Gerry Browne Jewellers | AIBF
Gerry Browne Jewellers.

For many traditional and rural businesses, the realm of social media and ‘e-tail’ is both intimidating and confusing.

The rapidly evolving online world remains a daunting prospect for tech shy business owners who have been recently forced to try and embrace change.

Alison Browne recognised the power of social media long before the pandemic forced small businesses up and down the country to frantically set up Shopify, Instagram and TikTok accounts.

But Instead of forcing herself through endless tutorials on social media marketing, Alison took a chance on a different solution.

“We hired a local girl who is passionate about our business and about jewellery,” she told the All-Ireland Business Times.

“She’s brilliant on social media and runs our pages like we’re a magazine – pairing our jewellery with different outfits before sending out a fresh look every week.”

“She has our Instagram linked to the online shop and she’s of the generation that can manage it on her phone while she’s talking to me!.”

“Her work has been an absolute godsend because it has kept us current.”

Gerry Browne Jewellers is a family business that has been in operation since 1962.

Gerry and Alison Browne bought the business from Gerry’s parents in 1986 and have developed it from county jeweller to national brand.

The online side of the business and its strong social media presence has been central to its growth.

“We’ve always tried to roll with the times”, said Alison.

“We would have been one of the first computerised jewellers in Ireland and we’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing our online presence.”

Retail has undergone huge change in the 35 years that Alison and Gerry have been running their business and they believe that the pace of change is getting quicker.

“Most of our clients have already done their shopping at home on their phones,” Alison said. “They know what they want before they come in.”

“It’s totally different to the way it was where customers would come into the shop a number of times before deciding what to buy.”

“They know how much they can afford and they know what they want to pay which is great when you’re walking into a jeweller because we can treat you to whatever you want, the sky’s the limit!”.

Despite the huge changes to consumer habits a lot of the old traditions and relationships remain intact.

Gerry and Alison benefit from repeat custom from clients who have built up strong relationships with the Browne°s.

Alison told the All-Ireland Business Times that she was delighted to welcome them back into the shop after lockdowns.

Gerry & Alison Browne – Gerry Browne Jewellers, receiving Business All-Star Accreditation from Frances Fitzgerald, MEP.

“We look after people whose parents bought jewellery from Gerry’s father when he had the shop.”

“Jewellery has a lot of sentimental value for people and we are very aware of that fact.”

“We were 100% dependent on the website during lockdown, and It was brilliant to have because it was flying through that time, but once things began to reopen we noticed that people were delighted to come back into the shop.”

“They might have done the research on their phone, but they still prefer to come in and have the shopping experience.”

“I think we all realised we missed it.”

Gerry Browne Jewellers has been named All-Star Online Jeweller Of The Year by the All Ireland Business Foundation.

Reacting to the announcement Alison said that the achievement is down to the work that has gone into developing the businesses online shop and its dynamic social media presence.

She offered her advice for rural and traditional businesses that are struggling to make the transition to the virtual world.

“Setting up social media can be very daunting,” she said.

“If you don’t have the time or the wherewithal to do it yourself I would recommend finding somebody local to help you.”

“They don’t have to be a blogger and it doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg, they just need to have the skills to make you look great and most importantly they have to have a genuine passion for your business and for whatever industry you are in.”

“If they’re interested enough they will learn and so will you.”

To learn more about Gerry Browne Jewellers, visit their All-Star showcase page here.