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COVID-19 Forcing Digital Transformation for Most Retail Jewelers

New research report shows how jewelers are leveraging social media and ecommerce to cope with pandemic.

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(PRESS RELEASE) A new report summarizing the results of a retail jeweler survey conducted at the end of 2020 reveals the impact of the global pandemic on the sales, operations and marketing of independent retail jewelry stores. With nearly half of stores closed for two months or more last spring, it’s perhaps not surprising that a significant portion cut staff and hours to minimize expenses.

However, sales bounced back for nearly half of stores upon reopening with engagement rings and self-purchases showing the strongest demand, according to BriteCo jeweler insurance, which wrote and produced the survey report. Key findings related to the internet and digital marketing include:

  • 58% of retailers have posted more on social media since the pandemic hit
  • 30% showing inventory on their website
  • 24% have added ecommerce to their websites

The complete 27-page Jewelers Going Digital survey report can be downloaded for free here.

Jewelers Lagging in Online Presence Falling Behind

“One of the things we saw in our analysis is that in general, jewelers who don’t maintain a strong online presence or don’t advertise saw the biggest decline in sales over the past year,” said Dustin Lemick, founder and CEO of BriteCo.

This seemed to be confirmed by recent statistics from a Mastercard SpendingPulse report that showed jewelry e-commerce sales in 2020 were up 44.6 percent during the expanded holiday season, running from Oct. 11 through Dec. 24, while overall jewelry sales were down 4.3 percent compared with the same period in 2019.

About the Survey

Based on more than 200 responses from retail jewelers throughout the U.S., the survey was sponsored by a consortium of industry leaders and technology service providers, including BriteCo jewelry appraisal and insurance, GemFind web services, Polygon jewelry exchange, International Gem Society (IGS), the Jewelers Helping Jewelers Facebook Group and INSTORE.

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Key Takeaways from the Research

The report highlights two major takeaways from the survey:

  • To survive and thrive, independent retail jewelers must leverage digital tools to transform their businesses and engage customers where they live — online and on their smartphones.
  • Jewelers should focus on improving their websites and social media presence to promote interaction online as well as sell online through ecommerce.

“The pandemic has had a definite impact on how jeweler’s look at their businesses,” said Alex Fetanat, founder and CEO of GemFind, a one-stop provider of digital marketing services and one of the survey sponsors. “We’ve seen a surge in requests from jewelers looking to start or expand ecommerce on their websites, along with ways to sell on social media.”

Recommendations

The survey report makes several recommendations that jewelers should consider in the year ahead, including:

  • Recognize that to survive and thrive as an independent retail jeweler you need to develop and expand your online presence using all the digital tools at your disposal.
  • You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to setting up or improving your website and social media posts (paid and otherwise). There are experienced providers in the jewelry industry who can help you and your staff build an online presence without breaking the bank.
  • It’s time to start offering ecommerce transactions on your website. Applications such as Shopify make setting up and managing online sales easier and faster than ever.
  • Educate yourself and your staff with free resources. Commit to a technology discussion with your people to get input and share ideas. Most of the major platforms, such as Facebook, have free online tutorials and educational videos to help you learn more.

“Like it or not, the COVID pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the jewelry industry,” said Lemick. “Even when the pandemic is finally brought under control, your customers —especially Gen Z and millenials — will expect that you will connect with them regularly through the internet, text, video and more.”

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