Signet’s New Chief Digital Officer Talks About Its Online Plans

Last week, Signet Jewelers announced that Rebecca Wooters (pictured) had been appointed chief digital officer—the first person ever to hold that title at the retailer.

In her new role, she will oversee the company’s digital strategy at all its banners, including those in the United Kingdom and Canada. James Allen, the e-tailer Signet purchased in 2017, will continue to operate as a stand-alone site, and Oded Edelman, who heads James Allen, will still serve as chief digital innovation adviser.

Prior to coming to Signet, Wooters spent 12 years with Citigroup, most recently as the chief customer experience officer and head of digital experience for its global consumer bank.

Wooters tells JCK that Signet was already pivoting toward omnichannel and the digital realm before COVID-19, but the pandemic sped up the process.

“People are working differently and they are buying differently and we think that change is here to stay,” she says. “We’re going to ensure that we have the right model to support that.”

Her main goal is to make going to a Signet website “seamless,’” “frictionless,” and a “clear, easy experience for consumers.

“People are starved for time. They don’t have a lot of patience for kinks in the process, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure that our digital experiences are extremely intuitive, so no one has to necessarily explain to a customer how to do it. They will know what to do, and it’s obvious and easy.

“We really want to understand things like search and navigation and how we present results to customers. We need to look at the actual journey as far as what our customers are doing with us and think about those experiences and the ones that we want to create.”

One key part of the new strategy is virtual appointments with sales consultants. More than 100,000 have been booked so far.

“That is still a fairly low percentage of the total [online] customers,” Wooters says. “By and large, customers do prefer self-service at our website. But we are seeing a change in how consumers seek advice, and that’s why we believe in the virtual consultants.”

Sometimes these consultants will lead to follow-up appointments at stores; other times, they make actual sales, which leads to delivery or curbside pickup.

For now, those sales consultants could be located anywhere—some even do it out of their homes, using online inventory. In the future, the company may look at ways to connect the customer with locally based associates.

It’s no secret that customers have traditionally been reluctant to buy jewelry online—even e-commerce executives have admitted many customers prefer  to “see, feel, and touch” the items. Wooters feels that’s changing.

“I will tell you that customers buy fine jewelry online pretty significantly. We regularly sell engagement rings for well over $10,000. If you can really accelerate the experience and combine that with the trust [in our stores], customers actually prefer it. It allows them to not only see the inventory and understand the product details and know what they’re looking at, but also have the item show up right at their door.

“What’s important is to provide the right visualization, the right advice, the right experience for the customer. The more we can do that and the more we can have customers easily interact with us—whether through digital media, social media, or the website—the more they are going to want to continue.”

Signet has also embraced the virtual in less conventional ways—notably, Jared’s platform for virtual weddings. So far, 70 online ceremonies have been held, with an average guest count of 20. Close to 2,000 couples have expressed interest.

(Image courtesy of Signet Jewelers)

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JCK News Director