Survey: Prestige Retailers and the Internet

A good portion of prestige jewelers began taking the Internet as a competitor seriously before 2000 and this awareness grew over the years as they developed workable strategies for their businesses, according to a survey taken at the most recent Centurion Jewelry Show.

Past Centurion show surveys have covered a number of subjects. The 2008 survey—taken with an audience response system during the show held Feb. 2-6 in Tucson, Ariz.,—however, only looked at one subject from a number of angles: The Internet and how retailers use it in day-to-day business life.

“The Internet is a subject of interest to us all,” said Centurion president Howard Hauben. “This year, we really focused exclusively on the Internet for our annual survey as it truly has touched every part of our business lives, whether a business sells on the Internet or not.”

When asked when they began to take the Internet seriously as a competitor and/or channel of distribution, close to 60 percent reported they became focused on the Web before 2004. In fact, more than 25 percent were on top of the Internet before 2000. Another 26.1 percent reported zeroing in on the Web after 2005 but before 2007. And close to 16 percent have yet to get involved with the Internet.

A total of 53 percent of survey respondents said they are not involved with blogs while 42 percent are involved with blogs. Only 5 percent of respondents use blogs to communicate with their customers.

FaceBook or similar technology is familiar to 36 percent of Centurion 2008 retail store attendees. Those not familiar with FaceBook or similar technology come in at 64 percent.

YouTube is familiar to prestige jewelers, with 65 percent using it or similar technology regularly. Only 4 percent, however, use YouTube to promote their businesses by posting videos.

A total of 70 percent of respondents spend less than 1 percent annually on their Internet presence. Thirteen percent spend from 1-3.99 percent and only 9 percent spend more than 5 percent a year.

More than half of the respondents had an in-house employee and an outside person, company, or agency maintain their Web site. Eight percent of respondents had no Internet presence.

A total of 42 percent of respondents do not use the Internet with their personnel matters. About 20 percent use their own Web sites to advertise “help wanted;” almost a quarter use Monster or Yahoo to try to find new personnel; and eight percent use the Internet only to research possible candidates.

More than one-third of prestige jewelers are spending a considerable amount of money on their Internet presence and it’s slowly working, say respondents. Only 4 percent are targeting Internet shoppers and making it pay off handsomely. A further 34 percent use the Internet in non-ecommerce ways and it works for them. About 26 percent have not been able to find a way to make the Internet work for them.

About 60 percent of prestige jewelers communicate regularly with their customers via email.

When asked if the Internet was “hard to deal but it has helped their business,” only 37 percent of the respondents disagreed with the statement.

A total of 85 percent of respondents offer their employees email through their store, giving their employees another way to talk to their customers. And 89 percent of those with email addresses do use them to reach their customers.

It seems that Internet advertising is being used extensively. While one-fifth do not advertise at all; almost half advertise on their own Web site. Eight percent use other Internet ad vehicles such as other Web sites and search engine advertising is used by 14 percent.

Nearly three-quarters of prestige jewelers and their employees use the Internet to keep up with industry news.

A strong case for having a content-rich, constantly updated web site was this statistic: Almost half of all respondents believe that 10 to 50 percent of new customers visited their jewelers’ Web site before they entering their brick and mortar store.

More than 58 percent of respondents update their Website as needed, not regularly. More than 40 percent update their site daily, weekly, or monthly.

On the personal technology front, only 5 percent of prestige jeweler respondents characterize themselves as dinosaurs and do not carry a cell phone. Approximately 52 percent depend regularly on a cell phone and 43 percent have email capable cell phones to stay in touch.