How the Jewelry Industry Can Improve Online

It probably does not come as a surprise to most jewelers to learn that, according to recent studies, the jewelry industry lags behind other industries when it comes to digital media.

While some might see that as an endearing anachronism, the truth is that jewelers are doing considerable harm to their brands and sales by ignoring the increasingly digital marketplace. “Most everyone in the jewelry business—manufacturers and retailers alike—are like dinosaurs,” said commenter NYC-JlryMfg. “They are already dead, but they just don’t know it yet.”

This week, I asked our readers to weigh in on the practices that are holding the industry back and how it can improve its presence online to take advantage of the opportunities for sales growth.

Identifying Problems

Jewelry designer and blogger Wendy Brandes tells me that when she started her fine jewelry blog in 2007, people with luxury goods experience said that making jewelry more accessible would make it less desirable. “They thought people would only want brands that played ‘hard to get,’ she says. “I’ve found the opposite to be true.”

“The hesitancy comes from still trying to determine whether or not this is all worth the investment of time, money, and resources without knowing the return on that investment,” said commenter Alex. “After all you don’t need to know anything about SEO and SERP or online marketing when you can simply hire someone who does.”

Allyson Riccardi, director of sales and marketing for Prestige Promenade Online Marketplace, believes that jewelers make room in their budgets for print marketing because that is what they are familiar with and they have worked with their print ad sales rep for years. “Quite frankly, they are overwhelmed and intimidated by the online space and e-commerce in particular, so heads remain in the sand,” she says.

Riccardi also thinks that staffing is a major issue. She says that if a jeweler has a few tough years and is understaffed, then they are more likely to rely on a salesperson to take care of online issues. “That means online marketing is not happening in a strategic way,” she says.

Also, a recent L2 study discovered these facts about the leading jewelry brands:

  • 71 percent don’t have e-commerce on their websites.
  • 97 percent don’t have an option for in-store pickup.
  • 51 percent don’t have a link to a store locator on the product page.
  • 90 percent don’t have mobile site features.

Finding Solutions

Brad Bensman, vice president of ESDNetwork, sent me some useful tips jewelers should keep in mind when developing an online strategy:

  • Give compelling reasons for a user to want to go to your site or learn more about your business.
  • Leverage design, SEO, and SEM’s best practices.
  • Don’t do social media unless you fully devote resources to it.
  • Seek professional guidance.
  • Ask your customers about their online preferences.
  • Don’t throw money at online, invest wisely.

“Provide an online customer experience that you would expect to desire yourself,” Bensman says. “”This is not a one-time hit, it’s an ongoing relationship.”

Riccardi thinks that the most cost-effective way for jewelers to beef up their websites is to add plug-ins—such as a link to the store’s Facebook page—that add value and don’t require a lot of maintenance internally.

“Your website has to reflect who you are as a store so that when someone goes on your site they feel like they are in your store,” says Sarah York, manager of CB Stark Jewelers in Massachusetts. “If they are given a bad impression or unable to research their purchase, you can lose sales without someone even stepping in your store.”

Lindsay Daunell, co-owner of D&H Sustainable Jewelers in San Francisco, is still thinking about what strategy works best for her new store, but she says she believes that jewelers should have a mixed media approach to online marketing. “Jewelers should engage with Facebook, Twitter, have a blog, and send personal newsletters to their client database, all in addition to having a regularly updated website,” she says.

My humble advice? If you are a jeweler or a brand and you think your digital media strategy doesn’t exist or isn’t working, don’t panic. Panic only leads to sloppy decision making that may solve short term problems, but muddle long term solutions that could make your business more viable. Take a step back, get your staff together, brainstorm some ideas, and map out what digital route works best for you.

Also don’t be afraid to ask for outside help. As you can see, you’re not alone in trying to make sense of all this, and an outside opinion might give you a push in the right direction. I also believe that the digital world should be fun, so if you find yourself treating it like drudgery, you might be doing something wrong.

Good luck, and enjoy the weekend!

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