Migrating From the Real World to the Virtual World

A retail jeweler’s Web site needs to be a true depiction of the jeweler and the business, said David Peters, Jewelers of America’s director of education.
“It needs to reflect everything you are, and if it fails to do this, then you will not meet your customer’s expectations,” Peters said during a presentation at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas titled, “Plugging in the Cyber Cash Register.”

Peters told jewelers who think it may be too late to get online that they’re wrong. “We have not even scratched the surface of what the Internet will do,” he said. “Today is the best day to launch a comprehensive Web site.”

In fact, having a store and a Web site may be an advantage over “pure play” Internet sites. “Having a real store tied to a Web site is the best strategy over the long haul,” he said. This is true whether the Web site is e-commerce enabled or not.
Quoting various statistics, Peters said that in the next five years, 80 percent of households will be purchasing products online, including large jewelry items. “Right now the comfort level is not there,” he said. “That barrier will break.”
He also said that more than 60 percent of the households who regularly purchase products online earn between $50,000 and $150,000 per year. “That’s our customers,” he said. “That’s the person we’re trying to reach.”

Peters noted that 98 percent of people who bought products on the Internet are happy with their experience. The main question that retailers need to ask themselves is: Who are you? “What are you really selling? What is the message you are selling to your customers?” he asked. “Jewelry stores virtually all look the same. Web sites virtually all look the same. Why should I shop on your Web site or your store if you look like everybody else?”

Peters provided a number of guidelines for planning and maintaining a Web site in order to achieve “above average success.” They include:

* Creating a strategic business plan that includes the Internet.

* Having an aggressive marketing campaign to support the Web site.

* Creating a Web site that is functional and attractive.

* Using the Web site as a marketing vehicle.

* Making the Web site secure. “Security is everything,” he said. It includes contact information and having a statement describing how personal information is being used.

* Not asking for too much personal information up front. This will turn many consumers off, and they will go to another Web site.

Peters said that 80 percent of people who use the Internet to shop for jewelry end up buying at the store. And the majority of those customers buy inexpensive items. They use the Internet for research before going to the store. So retailers should provide lots of information on their Web sites, about their stores; about their products; and about diamonds, gemstones, and jewelry.

“Information is power,” he said. “The people who provide that information are the ones who are powerful. The trick is getting them to the store.”

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