This is the (Online) Moment
This is the year, make no mistake about it, when all retailers who have their wits about them will make sure they have a strategy in place to sell online. Its hopeless, however, to fantasize that among the nearly 1.5 million jewelry sites now on the Internet, yours will be the one that stands out to consumers who go to a search engine and type in jewelry.
But you can distinguish yourself by offering local online shoppers the comfort of your familiar store name. If youve done your job well, its already the most prominent name in their minds when it comes to buying jewelry. This is where all that brand-building pays off. No matter how many online jewelry ads your customers see in Vogue or The Wall Street Journal, no matter how many diamond price bargains they see online, your best customers will still feel more comfortable buying something expensive from you.
This year, your job switches from establishing your brand to letting your customers know they can buy online from you just as easily as from some flashy newcomer. Start with a good e-mail program that allows you to communicate regularly with existing and potential customers, advised Internet expert Rich Goldstein at a Jewelers of America seminar in February at the JA International Jewelry Show.
Your sales associates should create regular opportunities to e-mail their clients and prospects with news about new jewelry and watches, upcoming promotions and service reminders. While many customers may still prefer a phone call or letter, use every chance you can to build e-mail relationships. Some people may not explore the Internet regularly. But everyone from grandmothers to preschoolers is checking his or her e-mail (the online jokes alone keep me going back for more!).
To catch local people who know your name and reputation and are ready to buy online, be sure to repeat your Web site address in your e-mail and traditional promotions to reinforce that youre online, open and ready for business.
Also explore all the exciting programs out there that help you connect your site to your suppliers. Just in the past few months alone, Stuller and Bulova have set up programs engineered by Internet pioneer Polygon. These programs allow your customers to explore your suppliers offerings through your own Web site. The customer never loses sight of your brand name, and you still get the credit, your mark-up and the continuing loyalty of your customer.
Dont let jewelry e-tailers wrestle away business from your store just because theyve mastered a new medium sooner than you. You have something all their technology and start-up money will never be able to achieve: Your history. Take advantage of it while theres still time.
Peggy Jo Donahue