Blue Nile is not the only e-tailer that’s going offline.
Brilliant Earth, the online jeweler that targets ethical consumers, recently opened a showroom in Los Angeles. It’s the company’s second: Brilliant Earth has had a showroom for five years in its home base of San Francisco. Both are “upstairs” locations, taking customers by appointment only.
But it has plans beyond that. Co-CEO Beth Gerstein says the company wants to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint beyond California (currently the only state where it collects sales tax) and is considering opening street-level stores as well as showrooms.
“Consumers will increasingly express a preference for omni-channel brands,” Gerstein says. “The showrooms provide customers with an immersive brand experience. We also learn a great deal from customers as they physically interact with our products so that we can fine-tune our offerings.”
Some dot-coms have put a novel spin on the traditional retail experience. A few points about Brilliant Earth’s:
– Consumers are apparently guaranteed at least a one-hour meeting.
– The specialists apparently work on no commission, and the lack of sales pressure was repeatedly mentioned in the L.A. showroom’s (excellent) Yelp reviews. (One reviewer even moaned how often retailers told her: ‘There was another couple this morning looking at that same ring.’”)
Jewelers, take note: While saying “another couple looked at this” may not seem like a particularly high-pressure tactic, today’s consumers are accustomed to online shopping, which has no pressure whatsoever. Any kind of nudge can be received as negative.
– By contrast, the company has gone out of its way to make the experience “serene,” in Gerstein’s words. The decor includes natural light and wood accents, and the L.A. showroom also reportedly includes “soothing water features” to create a “spa-like” vibe.
Below is video of the San Francisco location, which does indeed appear quite serene: