In a First, Tiffany Will Sell Engagement Rings Online

The 2019 version of Holly Golightly now just has to chomp croissants by her computer.

Yesterday, Tiffany & Co. debuted a revamped website, which will  do something that (surprisingly) no Tiffany site has ever done before: sell engagement rings.

“We have just begun offering select engagement rings online,” said CEO Alessandro Bogliolo in a conference call following the release of its financial results.

While in recent years, Tiffany has taken online orders for diamonds, it’s now letting customers pick and purchase them from the site.

Tiffany’s e-commerce business has grown at twice the rate as its normal business, noted chief financial officer Mark Erceg during the call, though most of those sales are of inexpensive silver product. In a change from years past, Tiffany did not break out e-commerce sales in its financial statement but lumped them in with sales from their corresponding regions.

Bogliolo said the brand has seen a strong reaction to its sometimes-surprising recent marketing—including ads featuring actresses  Zoë Kravitz and Elle Fanning. Sales rose not only to new customers but also to existing ones, demonstrating the new approach didn’t turn off its traditional client base.

This year, however, it will shift gears.

“The communications that you saw in 2018, communicated that something big and new was happening at Tiffany,” he said. “But don’t expect the same communications this year, because we want to keep surprising customers.”

He also said the company will accelerate the introduction of new products over the next year. In 2018, it premiered two collections: Tiffany True, an engagement ring concept (pictured), and Paper Flowers.

The news comes as the retailer announced higher earnings and sales for fiscal year 2018 (ended Jan. 31).

Comps rose 4 percent for the year, and worldwide net sales jumped 7.7 percent to $4.4 billion. Net earnings hit $586 million, up from $370 million the prior year, helped by a lower effective tax rate. Fourth-quarter comps fell 1 percent, in line with what it announced at holiday. Quarterly earnings hit $205 million, up from $62 million for fiscal 2017.

Comps in the Americas rose 5 percent for the year, but stayed flat in the fourth quarter. The United States comprises more than 90 percent of that region’s sales.

Bogliolo admitted that U.S. demand in the final quarter was not as strong as it was in its first three.

“I don’t associate this [with] any specific [internal] problem,” he said. “We saw it affecting all sorts of categories and price points.”

He thought that holiday sales were affected by the macro environment, particularly the stock market’s dramatic preholiday drops.

Tiffany’s full financial report can be seen here.

(Image courtesy of Tiffany & Co.)

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