Professional Jeweler Archive: Facing Down the Internet

April 2000

Managing/Competition


Facing Down the Internet

Don’t let online retailers intimidate you – you can provide more benefits


Some things never change . . . Yes, it’s a new millennium. Yes, technology is advancing at a blinding pace. Yes, more folks shopped the Internet this past Christmas than ever. And, yes, none of these realities will go away any time soon.

Few are the people who give a second thought to buying certain categories of merchandise on the Internet. After all, a carton of Pampers is a carton of Pampers, a Black & Decker 1/2-in. reversible drill is just that, CDs are CDs, books are books and even a green Chevy Malibu with a specific option package is the same car whether you buy it at Sheboygan Chevrolet or through the World Wide Web.

But there’s another set of realities to consider. We don’t sell Pampers, drills, CDs or cars. We sell diamonds, gemstones, gold, gifts and fine timepieces. We also sell custom design and specialized repair and remount services. Ours are unique products. True, some diamonds, gems, jewelry and watches are sold electronically every day. Even estate pieces are being auctioned online. But research continues to reinforce three big reasons consumers generally hesitate to make significant fine jewelry purchases using e-commerce.

1. They Want to Feel Confident

For most people, buying something as unique as a diamond ring, a sapphire bracelet or even a gold charm requires a level of confidence in the seller as well as the opportunity to see and touch the piece first. Most folks look at their jeweler in the same light as their doctor, auto mechanic or hairdresser. It takes a long time to cultivate the level of confidence a customer requires to spend thousands with his jeweler and then sleep well that night. How can that bond develop when there’s no history, no handshake, no eye contact?

2. They Want the Total Experience

Emotion always has been, and always will be, a major element of the jewelry-buying experience. Romance, excitement, the thrill of the moment, the creation of a future memory – all these factors come into play when most potential jewelry buyers design their shopping plan of attack. Feeling the weight of a piece of jewelry, seeing it on, checking the mirror, using the loupe and microscope are all part of it. Trust is too. You’ve spent years nurturing a relationship with every customer. How can the Internet provide that level of confidence? How can taking a fiancee or spouse to a jewelry store ever be duplicated electronically? How can the feel of the ring, along with the feel of her hand in his, take place in cyberspace?

3. They Still Want Service

The total experience involves not only emotion and romance; it also requires your bending over backward to provide customers with a shopping event they will never forget – the kind they’ll want to relate to friends and family. They also want the ability to exchange it if it’s not just right, to have it sized, engraved, adjusted, checked, repaired, cleaned, polished and appraised. Can all these follow-up functions be found on the Web? We think not.

Don’t let yourself suffer from Internet intimidation. You can promote, market and run your business around computer competitors with no problem. In our industry, as Barbra Streisand put it, people still need people. Guess that makes us the luckiest people in the world.

– by Christine Anzell & Jack Levenson

To order Anzell & Levenson’s jewelry-specific Client Record Keeping Book or Sales Training Manual (see ad in Marketplace on page 140), call (800) 887-8902.


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications