Treat Your Website Like A New Store Location

Jewelers should be investing in their website like they would in a new store location.

Do you make more than 10% of your total sales online? Have you hit 25% yet? Or do you still think of your website as a marketing channel rather than a sales channel?

Many retailers know what it takes to make a brick-and-mortar store successful. But many jewelers also do not apply those same principles to their website in order to increase sales.

Jewelers should be investing in their website like they would in a new store location. Gone are the days of thinking of your website as merely a brochure or catalogue of bestsellers.

Consider these statistics. A recent Shopify survey found that 57% of consumers were willing to buy from independent retailers for the first time online; with 37% having increased how much they shop online from local businesses, jewelry industry consultant Cheryl Kremkow shares in a Plumb Club podcast, sponsored by the wedding band manufacturer Benchmark.

Consumers Shop Local & Online
Today’s consumers want to shop local and online, and for three major reasons, Shopify’s research reveals — they want to support entrepreneurship, they want unique products, and they want the specialized service a local business provides.

“That means local consumers who are not yet your customers are ready to buy from you if you have unique products and good service,” Kremkow highlights. Two out of three consumers, ages 18-34, a jeweler’s target bridal customers, are spending more money buying online than they did before the pandemic, cites Shopify. In fact, every age group shops more online than they did in 2019.

Kremkow mentions the innovative approach Benchmark has to its online sales. Called its Local Roots Retailer Program, when consumers buy on the Benchmark website, the wedding band brand offers them a discount if they pick up the rings at their local retailer, who then shares in the revenue and gets a chance to win a customer for life.

Online sales are the fastest growing part of the jewelry business, with a lot more growth to come. “Today, one in five engagement rings and one in three wedding bands are purchased online and that percentage increases every year,” underscores Kremkow. “That means to continue to grow your sales in the future it’s essential to have a successful online bridal business.”

If that’s not enough to influence you to invest in your online store, online sales of fine fashion jewelry are increasing, too. McKinsey and Company has projected that the shared jewelry sales that will happen online will increase from 13% in 2019 to 20% in 2025, says Kremkow, noting the estimate is conservative compared to online sales for other product categories. In fact, 25% of all retail sales are expected to happen online by 2025. The pandemic only accelerated consumers’ shift to online shopping.

“Your customers are purchasing more online because that’s where they spend most of their time,” says Kremkow, “seven hours and 50 minutes a day of screen time,” citing 2020 data from eMarketer.

In fact, more than 60% of the global population is online everyday, says Carolina Almanzar, senior sales representative with iStar Jewelry, who teamed up with company vice president Karl Schmid in a Plumb Club podcast on retailing to today’s customers.

Sales Channel
In 2020 U.S. consumers spent $861.12 billion online, up 44% from 2019, according to Digital Commerce 360. “This is the highest annual U.S. retail e-commerce growth in the last decade,” Almanzar cites. “Online spending represented 21.3% of total retail sales in 2020 compared with 15.8% in 2019. Global ecommerce sales are expected to reach $6.5 trillion by 2023.”

For a jewelry retailer, having a website is hardly an innovation. But online functionality has come a long way in the last 20 years.

Almanzar cites that in 2022, 73% of ecommerce sales are expected to take place on a smart phone and websites must be compatible. Critical to attracting and keeping customers on your website is that it loads quickly and no matter the device viewed on the right presentation for that format appears.

Consumers today are creating their own online malls, collecting and assembling their favorite online shopping locations, with the likes of Amazon, Walmart and Zappos as anchor stores, describes Sarah Siegel, photographer for Novell Enterprises, a division of Continental in a Plumb Club podcast with its director of media Sean McCormick. “Theoretically, your website can now be the door to your store. It’s also a cashier, and you have connected your store to the electronic mall and have a terminal in your customers’ homes,” she says.

A website works seven times longer than a retailer’s average employee per month, says McCormick. He suggests jewelers view their website as more of a digital salesperson and set goals and reevaluate progress every six-months like they would with sales staff. Talk to your customers and find out how they shop online, and address issues on your site that impede the process and experience.

Once you begin to think of your website as a store, with all the ongoing commitment and investment that requires, you’ll start to grow your online sales and drive in store sales, too.