Le Vian’s pioneering approach to digitization leads the way for the global jewelry industry
In a June conference call with investors and press, Gina Drosos, CEO of Signet, the world’s largest diamond jeweler, singled out one jeweler in her discussion of Signet’s acceleration to become a more efficient and effective omnichannel retailer. That company was American powerhouse Le Vian, which Drosos credited for its contribution to Signet’s journey of digital transformation. Family-run Le Vian has enjoyed a 22-year-long strategic partnership with Signet.
It has to be said that 2020 will go down in business history as the year no one could have predicted. While Le Vian is acknowledged as a jewelry trend forecaster, thanks to its celebrity following and dazzling red carpet catwalk fundraisers at Las Vegas JCK, the brand, as much as everyone else, was taken by surprise when the pandemic hit.
Yet, given its prescient commitment to retail technologies, Le Vian was well positioned to respond speedily with both its independent and multiple retailers. By April, Le Vian TV’s entertaining and educational online shopping shows had garnered a 1.5-million-user monthly reach. SmartStores showcasing tens of thousands of one-of-a-kind Le Vian pieces, virtual private appointments, and virtual trunk shows yielded some handsome sales, including a $60,000 necklace, the priciest Le Vian item ever sold online. All this, while doors to the 5,000 brick-and-mortar stores in the United States, United Kingdom, and the Caribbean where Le Vian is sold were still firmly shut.
“I adore bringing the joy of Le Vian into people’s lives,” says Le Vian TV presenter Leonardo Kashi, a Le Vian sales professional since the 1990s. “For Nurses Day during May, we announced to our sweepstakes winner we were donating $5,000 in their honor for 500 meals for healthcare workers, with the winner’s name appearing on every package.”
Le Vian is leading the charge in adapting to the new omnichannel normal, in which the virtual sale is proving pivotal. Le Vian’s move to appointment-only, one-day trunk shows limits the people the brand can help in a day, but, according to CEO Eddie LeVian, it has dramatically increased the show-up and closing rates from a decades-long average of 50/50 to nearing 100% of people coming to appointments and 100% of individuals buying.
In 2015, Le Vian developed its proprietary Style Bar to show customers the entire Le Vian vault via tablets, showcasing thousands of one-off Le Vian pieces, usually available only at 4,000 trunk shows annually. In 2019, Le Vian added eight-foot-tall iPhone-style totems into 250 stores, allowing customers to reserve and buy tens of thousands of unique pieces on the spot. In recent months, Le Vian has worked closely with Signet’s Jared, Kay, and Zales stores, as well as hundreds of independents, enabling comprehensive, remote interaction with customers. Now, Le Vian is transporting this technology to 180 of Signet’s Ernest Jones and H.Samuel stores in the U.K.
“I believe our innovative tech collaboration with Signet, elevating the experience and value of virtual sales, holds the potential to unlock the value of Signet’s currently underappreciated stock price on the markets. Customers now seek an easy omnichannel buying experience, with the help of highly knowledgeable staff. Le Vian’s close partnership with Signet has become an incubator of innovation, enabling Signet to adapt to the environment whichever way the virus turns,” says CEO Eddie LeVian. “We draw strength from Le Vian’s history as an innovator, as much through Chocolate Diamonds—which now enjoy over 40% adult recognition in the United States—as through the trunk shows we pioneered in the 1980s.”