Stop & Shop: The JCK Marketplace Experience

Introducing JCK Marketplace, the 24/7 addition to the JCK family of shows

Do you attend the JCK Las Vegas show but wish it lasted more than a few days so you could get all of your buying done in one shot? ­Welcome to JCK Marketplace, an online destination to find products from JCK exhibitors long after the shows—in Las Vegas, Toronto, and LUXURY Privé in New York City and Panama—have ended.

JCK Marketplace (? replaces the long-running JCK Directory, a phone-book–size publication of myriad listings that lacked photos of real jewelry. Marketplace will contain direct links to all JCK show vendors, a minimum of 25 key product images across 71 different categories, including type of product, style, and occasion per company listing, and the promise of a more fulfilling, user-friendly, digital shopping experience.

The weekly feature “Britt’s Pick” spotlights a single design.

“The value of being online is that it makes it so much easier to source product,” says Brittany Siminitz, the Washington, D.C.–based JCK Marketplace manager. Siminitz’s goal: to enhance the Marketplace experience for retailers and vendors by streamlining navigation, organization, and ease of use. She’ll also highlight products through her On Your Market blog, a biweekly email newsletter, and social media. “We want to create that JCK Las Vegas experience all year-round,” she says.

JCK Events, the organizer of the JCK shows, custom-built the Marketplace website to industry specifications after completing extensive retailer and exhibitor research, including usability testing and several days of interviews. For example, finished diamond jewelry and loose stones were initially lumped together in the same category, but retailers’ observations persuaded Marketplace creators to divide that category into two. One merchant in particular kept talking about specific brands during the research process, and in the initial incarnation of Marketplace, “she wouldn’t have gotten very far,” observes Roxanne Tulenfeld, director of e-business for Reed Events. In its current form, however, users have lots of options.

Diamonds, pearls, gemstones, watches…find it all on
JCK Marketplace.

“Now, wherever you have Internet access, you can compare products and find trends and suppliers all in one location,” says Liz Irving, director of marketing for JCK Events. “Users want to be able to drill down to types of styles, stones, and metals, and they want it to be visual—we are a visual community. So there are thumbnail images.”

Up and running for about a year, Marketplace already features some 3,000 manufacturers and 29,000 products, and will undergo continual fine-tuning to make it a premier sourcing resource. Year-round marketing support—like a biweekly trend report in the Market­place e-newsletter—will help it remain an active site. At press time, nearly 1,000 retailers had created online accounts to mark favorite companies and products, rate pieces, and keep a log of private notes.

Donna Hankin, co-owner of Joint Venture Jewelry in Cary, N.C., says JCK Marketplace is a good place to see what’s new in all types of jewelry products and gauge her own trend radar. Case in point: Hankin noticed numerous colored stone station necklaces in Marketplace, which mirrored her own stock, confirming “that we were on the right path,” she says. Plus, even though her shop sells mostly estate pieces, Marketplace helps her make connections between her vintage jewels and contemporary styles by pointing out what’s old is new again. “In the 1950s, there were a lot of large cabochon cocktail rings, and these old pieces help me sell the new ones,” she says.

The Finished Jewelry category alone boasts subsections such as body jewelry, charms, estate, jade, men’s, monogram, pendants…need we go on?

Meanwhile, Valerie King of King Jewelers in Cohasset, Mass., aims to use Marketplace to scout out “the next Pandora,” the company owner tells JCK. “I am very happy with the vendors I have, but I am always looking just to keep current.”

And Afton Boykin of Washington Diamond in Falls Church, Va., treats the site like a virtual catalog. Boykin started using Marketplace about eight months ago after connecting with Siminitz on Twitter and likes to check out new styles from vendors such as Parade Design. “We show additional options to customers if we don’t have a piece in-store,” says the sales associate. Boykin’s association with Marketplace was even instrumental in helping close two sales last Christmas. When customer interest in Parade’s Lyria line of wedding bands spiked in December, she was able to show two styles that weren’t in-store by clicking around the Marketplace online showrooms. The result: $1,398 in sales for 18k white and yellow gold bands.

“There are a lot of new, innovative pieces on Marketplace,” Boykin says. “I like to see what everyone is offering.”