Use the Internet to Bring Customers to Your Store

Jewelry retail operations need a Web site and need to be be able to use them as a sales and marketing tool to bring consumers into their store, a Platinum Guild International official told retailers Wednesday during the first day of educational seminars at The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas.

Jenny Luker, PGI senior vice president, discussed the advantages of having “Web-to-Store” Internet sites. These are Web sites that don’t necessarily provide ecommerce capabilities, but provide information, education, and authority that provide consumers with enough interest and comfort to enter a particular store to purchase a product they want.

“Your Web site is your business card,” Luker said. “If you are not on the Web, customers aren’t coming to you.

She added, “A Web site is your best salesperson because it provides information about your products and what makes your store interesting.”

There are plenty of people out there who spend their time using the Web and then making their purchases at a store, Luker said—citing a January 2005 survey by ShopLocal.com published in JCK that notes:

 * 88.7 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally examine products on the Internet before going to a local retailer to buy.

* Adults spend more dollars shopping in local retail stores using information they got online, than they do for online purchases.

* 83.4 million U.S. consumers made offline purchases influenced by online information in 2004, up from 19 percent from 2003.

* W2S shoppers saved an average of 8.1 hours of shopping time by doing online research before making local shopping trips.

* W2S shoppers rely on the Internet twice as much for local purchasing information as they do on traditional advertising sources.

Luker also notes from the survey that less than 10 percent of engagement rings are actually sold online. However, the Internet is a strong influence on grooms when it comes to the type of engagement ring to buy and where to buy it.

Luker said that consumers want a Web site that’s professional looking, provide a good experience, and credible.

“They want a site that’s professional, easy to use, easy to navigate, and gives them something to see,” she said. “It must provide value to the consumer through interaction and experience. … (And) give them the information they are going to trust.”

The site must also convey safety and privacy by including contact information and using email as a way for customers to communicate with the business.

It’s also important for retailers to market their Web site, both online and through traditional media. These include search-engine-optimization to make sure that a retailer’s Web site shows up high on a key word search on search engines such as Google and Yahoo! and pay-per-click advertising, using sponsored search engine listings to drive traffic.

Luker also told the audience that it’s important to note that people are not just shopping for price online. “People are shopping for value, convenience, information, and education of what they need and want,” she said.

Whether the price for jewelry should be listed is currently a hot topic, Luker said. Some are of the thought that the Internet experience should be as transparent as possible, while feel that price should not be listed. Luker said it depends on the business.