THIS MONTH'S QUESTION: Do you have e-commerce capability?

Yes: 39%

  • Having the capability to sell from our website seems as basic a having a business phone number. We do not sell much online but would look small time if we did not have the ability to. — Steven B. Goldfarb, Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, Bellevue, WA
  • We are an online-only retailer that specializes in made to order moissanite engagement rings. The bulk of our sales come from Etsy, and then a small percentage from our website. I’ve jokingly been called the queen of moissanite by a few of our customers. — Jen Hollywood, J Hollywood Designs, Chester Springs, PA
  • We have dedicated e-com sites on two platforms: a Shopify site and a power e-commerce site. We’ve been side-by-side testing the two for about a year. We are implementing Shopify’s “Buy It Now” option on our main site. We plan on rolling out more on our main site next spring. — Rex Solomon, Houston Jewelry, Houston TX
  • Most people use it as a gallery, about one-quarter of what we sell is online. Some items don’t photograph well. Site sells enough to pay for the cost of running it. — Jeff Weintrop, The Silver Lady, University City, MO
  • 20 percent of sales come direct from the website and Instagram, 90 percent of our traffic is created through the website and social platforms. — Shawn Higgins, D & H Sustainable Jewelers, San Francisco, CA
  • Still trying to get the website to pay for itself. Had a website for 22 years, have had a cart for about a year, have had about six website orders. Constantly working on SEO and now started working with Google Adwords. — Pamela Rossi, PJ Rossi Jewelers, Lauderdale by the Sea, FL
  • We often sell to previous customers who have moved away and also to men who are away from their wives or girlfriends for work or military, but the ladies have seen something in our store they like. Our normal online sale averages $750, so fairly important. — Dorothy Vodicka, The Gem Collection, Tallahassee, FL
  • We primarily sell items that range from $300-350 on our website. We list a lot of inventory, but that’s what actually moves. On higher ticket items, we see people come in with a picture from our website to see it in person first. Even though we don’t get a huge percentage of our sales from our website (about 3 percent last year), we see it as a great investment, as we are known for being modern and see technology as a friend, not a foe. — Chris Wattsson, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers, Marquette, MI
  • We sell very little directly from our website. I simply think it’s a capability we have to have, or it tells prospective customers we are behind the times. Our website acts more as a digital catalog for our one-of-a-kind estate jewelry. We receive regular inquiries about pieces listed online. — Georgie Gleim, Gleim the Jeweler, Palo Alto, CA
  • Not much; working on improving this percentage as we speak. Upgrading website, working with my vendors and how they tie in to the website in a far more exciting way. — Christopher Cervini, Christopher’s Fine Jewelry, Pawleys Island, SC
  • I’ve had a shop on Etsy for over 10 years. About 30 percent of my business comes from that platform. I also sell on Artfire.com (similar to Etsy), about 5 percent of my business. I’ve been on eBay for more than 20 years, but that’s a whole different clientele—they don’t want to pay retail prices, so I use it as a “loss leader,” selling small, sought-after things like ear cuffs and toe rings, and putting information about my business and my other online shops in the package when mailing. I am currently building an e-commerce site under my own domain on Shopify. — Janne Etz, Contemporary Concepts, Cocoa, FL
  • We have a website that customers cannot buy anything off of. We do sell on eBay, Tradesy, Poshmark, Etsy. They are all important for different items. We are a diversified seller of everything from jewelry to clothing and shoes. — Elizabeth Kittell, Pretty In Patina, Omaha, NE
  • We have an eBay presence and have some results, especially with brand name items. We will be adding sales capabilities on our website with some vendor add-ons. — Mark Clodius, Clodius & Co. Jewelers, Rockford, IL
  • We sell on eBay and are contemplating having e-commerce on our website as of next year. It is still a smaller part of our business overall, and what we sell the most are vintage pieces. — Alisha Moore, Toner Jewelers, Overland Park, KS
  • We sell on Etsy and on our e-commerce website. As we have a few niche products, it has been very important to us in our yearly end numbers and for repeat clients. — Julie Terwilliger, Wexford Jewelers, Cadillac, MI
  • I currently sell on Etsy and Chrono24. I find driving traffic to my store website is too difficult. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview NY
  • Online sales continue to be slow but steady. I find that clients pre-shop on the website and come in with a list of styles they’d like to try on, so even when I’m not explicitly selling online, it helps me sell in-store. — Lauren Priori, L. Priori Jewelry, Philadelphia, PA
  • Have gone back to selling items on eBay that are estate in nature (art, jewelry, crystal). I use Etsy for custom design and more eclectic styles of jewelry. — Brenda Reichel, Carats & Karats Fine Jewelry, Honolulu, HI
  • We recently updated our website to be e-commerce friendly. We do not sell a lot, if anything, off of our website but we do get a lot of inquiries about items that customers see online. It is a very important presence to have for us because it allows us to reach customers that are not able to come into the store. I think we do not sell much off of our website because people want to be able to touch and feel a piece before buying it. They expect an experience when purchasing something unique and expensive. — Erica Lorenz, Michael & Sons, Reno, NV
  • Advertise custom pieces on Etsy. Sell on Facebook and Pinterest, estate items on eBay and our website. We sell a lower price point line on our website, too. — Scott Lefcourt, Scottsdale Fine Jewelers, Scottsdale, AZ
  • We have an Etsy store and we do very well. Since we specialize in antique and estate jewelry, Etsy is like the mother ship for us! The customers on Etsy are so kind, polite and classy!! I have even had customers on Etsy make a long distance trip to our store!! We reach a worldwide audience, so what may not be popular in one area is popular in another. What’s great about that is we get to buy a larger variety of antique and estate jewelry, instead of shopping for our geographic location only! — Patty Gallun Hansen, Dorothy Gallun Fine Jewelry, Cedarburg, WI
  • We have an e-commerce website. We make on average one sale a month to a new client in another state. It keeps our inventory moving and is additional cash flow, but isn’t a substantial part of our revenue. We find that it serves mostly as a preview for our clients to narrow down what they want before they come into the showroom to make a purchase. — Jill Hornik, Jae’s Jewelers, Coral Gables, FL
  • We have an e-commerce operation embedded on our website as well as use Etsy and occasionally eBay in selling merchandise. I cannot say that any of them perform as well as the online store I created on Facebook followed with regular live auctions of inventory that needs to be liquidated. This summer, I literally got rid of every single piece of dead stock that I had through a live Facebook auction that I held almost weekly. While I do not carry a ton of inventory because our store is almost 80 percent custom design with case models, there were several thousands of dollars liquidated including gemstones that were made into pieces of jewelry that were custom designed. — Rita Wade, Wade Designs Jewelry, Rocky Mount, NC
  • We have a click-to-buy feature on our website. Does not result in a lot of sales, but just enough to make it worthwhile to have. I also sell things on eBay that we buy off the street. Did real well with a vintage pot metal anthill garnet necklace: bought it for $15 hoping to get $45 on eBay, ended up selling for $335. — Cliff Yankovich, Chimera Design, Lowell, MI
  • We sell vintage costume jewelry on Etsy. It is a nice side business since 25 percent of what we sell in our retail store is fine vintage jewelry. We have individuals walking in almost every day with both fine and costume vintage jewelry to sell. We also have custom-made a series of Cincinnati-themed charms that we sell pretty well on our website. — Lee Krombholz, Krombholz Jewelers, Cincinnati , OH

NO: 61%

  • Online selling has not been successful, even when we have had a complete platform. I haven’t been able to turn this aspect of commerce over to anyone who can focus on it. I plan to. However, of every single one of my peers, NO ONE makes money with it. Their sites are used primarily for address, store hours and location. — J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA
  • If I sell diamonds online, then it’s OK for our customers to shop us on Blue Nile, right? That is a road map on how to lower your gross profits! Diamonds are unique. Let’s keep it that way! — Chuck Kuba, Iowa Diamond, Des Moines, IA
  • We have had so many fraudulent credit cards that I do not want to go through the hassle. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • We do not currently sell online, but our website has the capability, it just needs to be “turned on.” We are considering it, but want to make sure we have full understanding and enough time to devote to it. — Kim Hatchell, Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC
  • Health issues haven’t allowed me the time. However, after nine surgeries, I’m feeling well enough to pursue this now. — Tim Bodis, Diamond Designs by Bodis, Rice Lake, WI
  • I do NOT sell online but I am looking to add a selling feature for 2018. Additionally, we will begin experimenting with selling on Instagram and Facebook. — Maria Aguirre, Benold’s Jewelers, Austin, TX
  • We currently don’t have the personnel to oversee this. However, we are conducting many more sales remotely via email and such. Folks that choose not to come in to our store but are fine working through the selection process from a distance. — Mark Kasuba, M. Edward Jewelers, Pittsfield, MA
  • Not enough hours in the day to manage this in addition to running the store. — Connie Stagner, Acori Diamonds & Design, Friendswood, TX
  • We used to have an e-commerce friendly website. However, this was not beneficial to our business. Every customer who was looking online eventually ended up coming in to see the products in person. It helped as a way to prepare the customer for our selection and pricing. Ultimately, it wasn’t worth the time, energy, or cost. Since deleting that capability on our website, we haven’t seen any decline in sales caused by it. — Morgan Bartel, Susann’s Custom Jewelers, Corpus Christi, TX
  • It’s in the long-range plans. (Hopefully not too long-range.) — Marta Jones-Couch, Elements Ltd., Des Moines, IA
  • At this point, having an online shopping cart embedded in our website has created no sales. We have also tried selling items on eBay and that was a complete hassle where I dealt with fraudulent buyers more than anything else. — Kristin Cornwell, Cornwell Jewelers, Athens, OH
  • It’s a pain in the bones for small independent retailers to have a storefront and sell online. There’s also way too many online scammers out there trying to rip you off. No thanks. — Marc Majors, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX
  • I don’t have time or expertise to manage a website. Had a site a few years ago and it was a money pit. — Mark Thomas Ruby, SunSpirit Designs, Loveland, CO
  • We have done this in the past, but didn’t see a response appropriate to the costs of offering online purchasing. I also haven’t committed my staff to dedicating their time to responding in a timely manner to online inquiries, purchases, etc. We are limited in staffing as well as where we spread out ourselves. This was not something I wanted to only do “halfway” and the decision was made to focus on what we do best (which is focusing on our customers’ instore experience!). The challenge to offer an online purchasing presence is still at the top of my To-Do List and something we will revisit soon. — Erika Godfrey, Hawthorne Jewelry, Kearney, NE
  • No time to sit at computer and watch this and can’t afford to pay someone to do this job. — Laurie Cusher, Hyde Park Jeweler, Hyde Park, NY

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 edition of INSTORE.      

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