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Jewelers Focus on E-Commerce for Flexibility

Shoppable websites, virtual custom design and free delivery create options.

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WHAT DO YOU need right now? A shoppable, mobile-friendly website, experts say. Most websites can be tweaked relatively simply to make shopping work. Shopify can be added to a WordPress site. Even an outdated or “legacy” site can be linked fairly seamlessly with a button to a separate Shopify site, says consultant Andrea Hill of Hill Management Group. Add a concierge chat service and staff it in shifts to make shopping easier and help convert browsers and wish-listers into buyers, says Julie Gotz of Freshley Media. As international supply chains are disrupted and people stay close to home, expect to see a huge shift in people buying from local retailers, even if the product is being delivered in the same town, says Matthew Perosi of Jeweler Websites. Stay in touch with your vendors, too, to see who has product available and if they are able to drop-ship it directly to your clients, suggests Sherry Smith of the Edge Retail Academy. Everyone along the supply chain will benefit from digital sales. Here are a few examples of stores with established e-commerce, which are offering new options.

Design Your Own

Green Lake Jewelry in Seattle is all about custom design, and the entire process can be done online. The website allows clients to start designing their own ring and shopping for loose diamonds and colored gemstones virtually, with prices displayed. The site also lists a wide selection of rings in inventory and ready for immediate purchase, as-is or with customization. The site is searchable by ring type and shape, price range, accent setting, patterns and motifs, design elements, gemstones and metal type experience. greenlakejewelry.com

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Virtual Appointments 101

Marisa Perry let her email list know that while her bridal-centric New York City atelier was temporarily shuttered in March, the company was all set up and ready to go for virtual design consultations. There is also a link from the website to an interactive calendar allowing customers to schedule their own virtual appointments on Zoom with a team member: “We can discuss your dream designs and walk you through the whole process of custom creating your perfect piece.” The website also has a full selection of ready-to-go inventory. The site features video from Perry’s Youtube channel, including a virtual tour of the showroom and practical advice about shopping for diamond rings. marisaperry.com.

Drive-Through Pickup

Ramsey’s Diamond Jewelers in Metairie, LA, has its entire inventory available for online purchase, offering drive-through pickup and free shipping. The website has a text-link button to facilitate purchases, too. “All in-stock items are available to purchase online so that you can give socially distant love,” it reads. They don’t use much stock photography provided by vendors, preferring to have a photographer on staff to shoot jewelry in local settings. For instance, says owner Robert Ramsey, “She’ll shoot pictures of our NOLA collection items on a local plant that’s blooming at certain times of the year or pine cones that grow locally in the fall. In other words, we reinforce we’re local with eye-popping visuals, and people notice.” ramseys.com.

ONLINE EXTRA

In 2019, we asked INSTORE’s Big Survey respondents to characterize their relationship with e-commerce, asking, “How would you describe the contribution of e-commerce — via your website, Facebook, eBay, Etsy, etc — to total sales?” Only 19 percent said e-commerce was non-existent, but another 43 percent characterized it as insignificant. Now is the time to devote more relationships to making shopping online easy for your clients, whether that means booking a virtual appointment for design services or advice, or making your full inventory available for purchase. Every business is different; you know what you need to make your website function as your second store.

Other answers:

  • Moderate (11-25%) 25%
  • Substantial (26-50%) 10%
  • Main source of revenue (50% or more) 2%

Free Shipping on Chocolate

When Max’s owner Ellen Hertz closed her brick-and-mortar store in St. Louis Park, MN, temporarily in March, she made it clear on Facebook her online store would be open for business and shipping as usual. She also expanded her web offerings, beginning with the store’s signature chocolate collection. “As you may be doing some ‘chocolate bingeing’ during your downtime (I know that I will be — maybe along with a little red wine — they make a great pairing!), we want to offer something a little extra. For as long as the brick-and-mortar store stays closed, there will be no shipping charge for the chocolates.” Since then, she expanded free shipping to all domestic orders. stylebymax.com

Mobile-Friendly Shopping

In Maysville, KY, store manager Katherine Cotterill recently ramped up the website for EAT Gallery, eatgallery.com, with more beautifully photographed jewelry, including hand-made natural stone and pearl necklaces she designs herself. The mobile-friendly website is exceptionally easy to navigate, and free shipping and local delivery are available. The gallery also sells home decor and objects d’art.

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Running the Gamut

Alara Jewelry in Bozeman, MT, is offering a full menu of online options at alarajewelry.com from video chat and e-concierge services to a virtual personal bridal styling session, free shipping, free local delivery, an online scheduler and a host of tempting sale items. Owner Babs Noelle is working with a full-time in-house marketing director to bring a brand new website online, but meanwhile they were able to add buttons and banners to make online booking a breeze. Before her store shut down temporarily in March, she had been designing custom jewelry virtually for about six months, but her site had been e-commerce enabled for at least eight years. When downtown Bozeman’s Bridal Walk was canceled in April, Noelle also organized an online bridal talk using the app StreamYard. “We’ve even sold some higher end non-bridal,” she says. “We’re getting a decent number of calls and emails. People are starting to realize that the world isn’t as convenient as it was, so they can’t count on us to be able to do things last minute. So they are looking forward a couple of months,” to special occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries and Mother’s Day.

Doing Relatively Well, All Things Considered

J.R. Dunn Jewelers in Lighthouse Point, FL, began their e-commerce website in 2005 and the family ownership, Jim, Ann Marie and their son Sean Dunn have done what they could to keep business going online through the crisis, including sales of Rolex, Breitling and Tag Heuer watches. “Our online store is doing relatively well during this time, all things considered,” Sean says. “It’s very robust and it’s the main way we are communicating with people right now.” Inspired by a local ICU nurse, who made a heartfelt plea on social media for supplies, they also gave away 200 Honora pearl bracelets, which they called Bracelets of Hope, to local health-care workers.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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A Liquidation Sale during a Pandemic? Wilkerson Showed Them the Way

For 25 years, Stafford Jewelers of Cincinnati, Ohio, was THE place to go for special gifts, engagement diamonds, high-end Swiss watch brands — in other words, the crème de la crème of fine jewelry. But this summer, the Stafford family was ready to retire. So, they chose Wilkerson to help them close up shop. “One of the biggest concerns was having the sale in the middle of COVID,” says Director of Stores Michelle Randle. Wilkerson gave the Stafford team plenty of ideas as well as safety guidelines, which they closely followed. “All of the employees felt safe, the customers coming in the door felt safe and we did a lot of business,” says Randle. How much business? “The inventory flew,” she says. Translation: They sold millions and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. Randle calls it, “an incredible experience.” Would she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers who are thinking of thinning their inventories or retiring? “Everyone got more than what they expected out of the sale. You have to hire Wilkerson. They’re amazing.”

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