Jewelry By Design’s Jenny Caro Is Bringing Jewelers Into the Digital Age

Jenny Caro wants to help jewelers compete with Blue Nile, one seminar at a time

Jewelry By Design’s Jenny Caro knows that implementing change can feel impossible for small business owners. “The truth is, when we all get home from the great seminars and events we go to, we’re ­inundated with the reality of how to implement what we’ve learned,” she says. “And after two weeks, we’ve forgotten 90 percent of it”—particularly when it comes to online and digital sales. To try to even the playing field, and compete with diamond retailer Blue Nile and other online powerhouses, the Woodbridge, Va., retailer hosted a two-day digital marketing training event in July through her buying group, Leading Jewelers Guild. Its mission was down and dirty: provide hands-on digital education to the people in the store that actually do the online marketing and social media—typically not the owners. Professionals in website design, digital marketing, and social media worked with store staffers representing more than 1,000 store locations at the two-day training event. “I was shocked to find out how many [indie jewelers] don’t have websites,” says Caro, who owns Jewelry By Design with her husband, John. “You can choose to not be in the game—but know that it’s a choice.”

How did the idea for the Digital Strategy Seminar develop?

Leading Jewelers Guild is my buying group. At the group’s March 2014 meeting, we were having discussions and it came up that a lot of stores are hurting business-wise. ­Steven Singer of Steven Singer Jewelers [in Philadelphia], who I think is a maverick, said something like, “Let’s lay it out on the table. What’s going on here is we’re all losing market share to the Internet, because we’re not holding our own online.” He really stirs the pot, which I love. I happened to be holding the mic when he said this, and…I said, “I’m going to help put something together for the next meeting that will help us all.”

How did you organize the event and get people to sign up?

We had people fill out an informational form on social media. I have a very forceful nature—I went around and said, “Sign up for this right now.” Nobody is doing hands-on training of this sort in the industry.

What was the thinking behind the topics covered at the event?

We thought, while the people who actually do the [digital] work learn about that, the store owners would be in another meeting that was about financial benchmarking. The afternoon was about websites and SEO and Google AdWords. Some of [the attendees] didn’t even have a website. Or they had a website they made 15 years ago that looked like crap.

What was the larger mission of the event?

The big thing is getting everyone—even chain stores—to realize we are losing market share now, especially if you’re in the bridal business. You need to have images, images, images on your website. If consumers don’t see the rings, they might not come to your store because they don’t think you have them. People are so ­misinformed. It used to be we’d advertise in the phone book, and the question was “Do I want the biggest display ad or not?” Now we have so many ways to [market], and it’s hard to understand what will be right for you. And Google and Facebook change algorithms regularly. I have someone doing my Facebook, but is it a strategy? No. We now have Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter. Part of having a strategy is deciding which ones are important for your business. Also, you have to figure out how many you can focus on and do well.

What’s your philosophy on professional education?

I understand and believe that I always have to be learning, and I need to be going out of my store to places to learn. We all really need to be getting out of the store.

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