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Industry Leaders Weigh In on Digital Transformation of Retail Jewelers

Find out the results from a survey conducted in Oct/Nov 2020.

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A NEW RESEARCH REPORT titled Jewelers Going Digital revealed how retail jewelers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in terms of their digital marketing efforts. Results from a survey conducted in October/November 2020 show that:

  • 58% of retailers have posted more on social media since the pandemic hit
  • 30% are showing inventory on their websites
  • 24% have added ecommerce to their website
Alex Fetanat, Sean Lemire, Dustin Lemick, Aleah Arundale.jpg

(From left to right) Alex Fetanat, Sean Lemire, Dustin Lemick, Aleah Arundale

Sponsored by a consortium of industry leaders and technology service providers, INSTORE conducted online interviews with survey sponsors including Dustin Lemick, founder and CEO of BriteCo; Sean Lemire, general director of Polygon; Alex Fetanat, founder and CEO of GemFind; and Aleah Arundale, founder of the Jewelers Helping Jewelers Facebook group.

Which survey result do you think is most important for jewelry store owners to see?

DUSTIN: I wouldn’t necessarily choose one result. I think the takeaways from the report speak for themselves. Jewelers must get better at using digital technology wherever possible. You have to get with the digital program or risk being left behind.

SEAN: Those who stopped advertising or don’t advertise at all saw the biggest downturn in sales.

ALEX: The fact that a jeweler’s digital presence and online marketing is the most important thing they need to focus on if they want to survive and grow their business.

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What was the most surprising result of the survey?

SEAN: It’s surprising and alarming that 30% of stores indicated they made no changes in the way they market themselves during the pandemic.

ALEX: There were several. The fact that 21.67% said they didn’t see a significant online traffic increase suggests to me these retailers do not view their analytics or they simply don’t have a good online presence. Also, the fact that 48.77% do not have an ecommerce website. For those jewelers, we recommend adding e-commerce functionality since its value in promoting sales will continue to grow. Also, it’s shocking that nearly 10% of jewelers do not have a website!

DUSTIN: Honestly, I’m not sure most of the responses were that surprising. I feel like the whole survey and report are a wakeup call to our industry. It’s showing us we have an opportunity to change and transform our businesses.

How do you think store owners should be managing their marketing budgets as online sales/exposure becomes increasingly important?

ALEX: I believe retail jewelry stores should spend close to 100% of their marketing budget on digital advertising. In the past we used to recommend 80% in digital and 20% in traditional marketing media, assuming they work for your store. But to grow, you need digital marketing with almost all of your budget devoted to online advertising.

DUSTIN: It’s clear that jewelers need to commit more of their marketing efforts and dollars to website and social media communications, especially since they’re primary drivers of in-store traffic. Just as important, jewelers need to be clear who in their store is going to be responsible for digital communications. And get outside help when they need it.

SEAN: Maintain or increase budget for more digital presence if possible. Focus on heavily targeted ad campaigns on social platforms, paid search (PPC), and email.

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What are your thoughts on respondents’ opinions regarding which advertising channel gave them the best return on their marketing dollar?

DUSTIN: Retail jewelers are seeing their best ROI from social media because that’s where their customers live, online and on their phones. That’s especially true for the younger demographic such as Gen Z’s and millennials. We’re seeing the next generation of jewelry store owners embracing social media because they know it works.

SEAN: It makes complete sense that most feel they got the best ROI from social media. The target audience (for the most part millennials) spends a lot of time surfing the top social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube).

ALEX: The jewelers that post regularly on social media and have generated a strong following do get the best ROI since the cost on social networks is typically lower. But you must have developed a good number of followers to succeed if that is your only channel of advertising.

What is the biggest mistake that you see store owners making in regards to their online efforts?

SEAN: Retail jewelers should focus on very targeted marketing audiences, especially to local prospects, rather than casting too wide of a net. This can help budgets go further and gain better ROI on campaigns.

ALEAH: My years of experience on Facebook with Jewelers Helping Jewelers taught me that social media is a numbers game. You can’t really make an impression in a crowded medium without lots of posts. I think three posts a day is the minimum to really have an impact.

ALEX: I believe the biggest mistake any jewelry store can make is not taking its online presence and advertising seriously. We have clients that increased their revenue by as much as 27% last year through online marketing — even with their store being closed for over a month.

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How important do you think it is for independent jewelers to offer e-commerce?

ALEX: Jewelers who want to increase revenue needs to make sure they have an ecommerce component to their online presence.

SEAN: It is absolutely crucial for jewelers to be able to process orders online, whether that be through your website or another third-party site like Facebook, Instagram, Etsy or others. Once your online store is set up, some advertising campaigns can be geared towards driving traffic to your physical location while others can focus on generating online sales.

What other tech-related advice do you have for jewelry store owners in 2021?

SEAN: Get informed, stay educated. Try different things! Sometimes something works, and sometimes it doesn’t. The beauty of digital is that results can be tracked and measured, and approaches tweaked often. Don’t be afraid to seek outside help from people who are experts in this and do it every day!

DUSTIN: Don’t forget to look at how you can use technology to improve your own internal operations and how you train your store staff to communicate with customers. Technology should be simple to implement and always make your job easier!

ALEX: Adapt to the changes and the new consumer behavior and do not fear technology. Embrace it!

Why did you co-sponsor this survey?

DUSTIN: We initiated this survey and report to get a better understanding of what independent retail jewelers are going through and share with them how their peers are dealing with the challenges and opportunities that digital technology offers. BriteCo was founded specifically to leverage appraisal and insurance technology and help jewelers improve the way they sell and communicate with their customers. We wanted to bring together leaders in our industry to raise awareness and provide retail jewelers with recommendations and resources that can help them navigate the digital world and be successful.

SEAN: Our industry is going through some very difficult and unprecedented times. With lockdowns, restrictions and changing consumer habits, COVID has rapidly launched us into the digital business sphere. Many business owners have been left reeling, uncertain of what strategies and tactics to adopt and where to put their focus. As a B2B network specializing in helping jewelers and vendors connect and grow, Polygon wanted to get behind this in order to gather and share relevant, useful & actionable information.

ALEX: As a B2B technology solution provider for the jewelry industry, it’s very important for GemFind to understand what the industry is going through and how our customers are behaving. We see the trend toward digital transformation which has enabled us to develop and launch new tools and programs that help the industry move forward.

Trace Shelton is the editor-in-chief of INSTORE magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].

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