Industry / Retail

Online Jewelry Purchases Have Grown Dramatically, Survey Finds


A new Plumb Club survey found that while nearly two-thirds of jewelry consumers purchased online in the past year, most still preferred to shop in a traditional store.

In the poll of 2,000 people who purchased jewelry in the past year, 62% said they bought at least one piece via the web, while 28% shopped only at brick-and-mortar stores. Another 10% bought in-store but said online browsing led them to that location.

“The No. 1 preferred place to purchase remains the store,” says Plumb Club marketing director Michael O’Connor. “But what our research tells us is an increasing number of consumers are willing to purchase online. People are becoming more and more accustomed to shopping online. Once you find out how easy it is to buy online, you do it more often.”

When they did shop online, consumers tended to favor traditional shops and names. Some 31% said they purchased their item directly from the jewelry or watch brand; 30% said they bought from an online marketplace (such as Amazon or Blue Nile); 27% chose a local jeweler’s website; 7% chose a luxury e-boutique (e.g., Rue La La); and 6% shopped over social media.

When consumers were asked why they purchased online, 64% said they found it more convenient; 43% liked the greater product options; 40% appreciated the opportunity to compare prices; 40% believed the prices were lower; 35% were attracted by free shipping; and 24% singled out “easy returns.”

Online purchases tended to be in lower price points than in-store sales. The average budget for an online purchase was $1,355, with 70% of purchases coming in under $1,000.

“The more important purchases are still being made in-store,” says Plumb Club executive director Lawrence Hess. “But if you’re making a connection with millennials and Generation Z early on, even if it starts out digital, they will be more like to come into your store to make a bigger purchase.”

About 70% of consumers researched their jewelry purchase online before they bought—and what they saw made the difference in where they shopped.

“The stores customers did business with are the ones that made information available digitally,” Hess says. “Because they’re looking for a touch point, and that touch point is going to be dictated by the information that’s put out there in the digital world.

“[A jeweler’s] website can’t just be a single web page. It’s got to be in-depth and robust so that a consumer can go there and find out about you, find out about the products you offer. The merging of the in-store and the omnichannel experience is key, and if you’re missing a piece of that, consumers may go away.”

The study also found that 40% of respondents said they’d made a purchase (including non-jewelry) over social media, with Facebook and Instagram comprising the lion’s share of those sales.

While social media ads definitely influenced purchase decisions, consumers wanted “relatable” content from places they bought from, O’Connor says.

“The things that consumers really liked are relatable stories and seeing themselves reflected in the brands,” he says. “They particularly liked seeing their values related in the brands, whether that is community involvement, diversity in their staff, or sustainability. Things that are important to them made them feel more comfortable.”

O’Connor believes the survey shows that “from a retail perspective, there’s still a lot [of business] to be had—if a retailer applies themselves to really doing their online right, and not just using their site as a catalog [or] for brand awareness, but actually using it to make sales.

“My advice to a retailer would be, if you’re not doing social media at this point, you need to be,” says O’Connor. “And if you haven’t converted your website to a commerce website, you’re doing yourself an injustice.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

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By: Rob Bates

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