James Allen Pivots Away From Omnichannel



The e-tailer has also produced a new video with BuzzFeed that has three million views

While Blue Nile and Brilliant Earth are increasingly embracing clicks and bricks—and erecting a string of physical locations—rival e-tailer James Allen says it’s mapping out a different route.

In 2014, shortly after Blue Nile decided to sell in Nordstrom, the company set up 16 boutiques in Sears stores. Those have since been closed. The company’s sole stab at omnichannel is, for now, an upstairs showroom on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, close to the Diamond District. (JCK hopes to visit soon.)

James Allen chief marketing officer Johanna Tzur says her company feels that, because its 360-degree technology provides an extensive snapshot of its inventory, it has less need for a physical presence than others.

But Tzur is more interested in talking about the new marketing video that the company produced with BuzzFeed, “Couples Take the Engagement Ring Challenge.”  The video has received three million views over various platforms, though she stresses that is not how the company measures success: “We had no interest in going viral for an audience that wasn’t relevant to us.”

What it sought was a millennial audience—which is why it chose BuzzFeed.

“Everything we do at James Allen is based on our understanding of our target audience,” she says. “BuzzFeed is a source of news and information for them.”

The video shows three millennial couples trying to match their ring taste. As with Pandora’s “Unique Connection” video, there is a game show element—it is kind of an updated version of The Newlywed Game built around bridal jewelry. The couples feel relatable and authentic, although the focus is on design rather than, as is typical with online jewelers, price.

“We’re building a brand experience that goes beyond that,” Tzur says. “I think people understand the value equation of online. We are going to show them other elements that are elements to that. Someone is buying something that is so sentimental, and we wanted to highlight the journey that happens.”

Generally, the online purchase process is not that easy to dramatize, but this video does a pretty good job. Check it out:

(Image courtesy of Buzzfeed)

JCK News Director