E-TAILERS KEEP PACE WITH THE HOLIDAYS

For jewelry e-tailers-most of whom are in their first or second year of business-this holiday season generally kept pace with expectations. And according to reports, online retailers were efficient in getting product to the consumer.

‘We launched in October with a minimal amount of advertising,’ says Sheldon Ginsberg, CEO of Enjewel. ‘It’s a soft launch. We think the site is working well.’

If there was one hot seller this season for Enjewel, it was no doubt the ‘Election Collection,’ created by Kurilla Design.

The jewelry line was a parody of the presidential election controversy in Florida. Among the items were ‘Pregnant Chad’ cufflinks, sterling silver ‘Butterfly Ballot with Hanging Chad’ necklaces, and sterling silver ‘Dimpled Chad’ earrings.

The jewelry line attracted the international media as Ginsberg was interviewed in major newspapers, wire services, national television programs, and radio stations around the country. Ginsberg says the success of the line increased overall traffic on the site.

‘The orders coming in for this were staggering,’ he says. ‘It drives traffic and has an awesome ripple effect. They ended up buying lots of other items.’

Seattle-based BlueNile, launched in November 1999, had better-than-expected business for the season, according to director of public relations Paula Gottlob.

‘We ramped quicker than last year,’ Gottlob says. ‘By the second week of November, we’d exceeded all of our October sales. We’ve been experiencing 100% to 125% year-to-year growth.’

The best day ever for the company was on December 18, she says. ‘And there have been some major, major purchases, [including] a $93,000 sale, a $50,000 sale, and a $47,000 sale.’

Diamond.com, Sunrise, Fla., launched in November 1999, had more than 1.2 million visitors during the Christmas season, according to Nicolas Topiol, chief strategy officer.

‘We’d hope to do more, but we’re quite satisfied. December is at least three times better than November. It’s a late season, no question about it. I’ve seen business increase the last five days by 25% to 30%.’

He says that watches are among the most popular items, along with diamond studs, diamond pendants of all shapes and sizes, and earrings-particularly hoops.

Ashford.com, the Houston-based luxury e-tailer, has been doing well both in attracting new and repeat customers and in fulfilling deliveries, says Cheryl Holland, VP of merchandising.

‘We’re shipping more purchases with a 99.8% on-time rate for overnight deliveries,’ Holland says. ‘Business is good. Our repeat customer rate is much higher than last year from 16% to 23% in 2000. That tells me people like the site, they’re getting good service, like the merchandise, and are coming back.’

The company sells jewelry as part of its ‘Ashford Collection’ and also sells designer jewelry. Some of the best sellers are diamond stud earrings, Cartier watches, Lisa Jenks jewelry, Dooney & Bourke leather, Oakley sunglasses, Calvin Klein fragrances, and Kosta Boda crystal, diamond ear studs, tennis bracelets, pearl-studded earrings, and pearl strands.