Online and In-Store Let Each Do Its Magic
Three young Internet-savvy jewelers at the AGS Conclave in Atlanta talked about how all jewelers can learn to love and profit from the Internet by letting their Web sites lure buyers to their brick-and-mortar stores. They reassured jewelers in attendance consumers will still clamor for the in-store experience because people are social animals. But consumers increasingly look first for stores and information online. And, yes, some buy there. The key to getting them into the store, say these young jewelers, is to make sure they can find you easily online and that you impress them there. Ive listed how to do this, based on their advice:
Have a clear image. Your brands identity must be clear online and linked to your store itself. Brands are the way online marketing works, from your Web address to promotions. A well-defined brand will drive customers from your Web site to your physical store.
Define a niche. The Internet sorts categories, so shoppers have learned to search for specifics. You have to describe what you offer with more detail than just general jewelry store. Look beyond the loose-diamond niche because smaller jewelers have a tough time competing on price in this crowded and commoditized category. Try touting your designer wedding bands, colored gemstones and fashion-forward gold jewelry. Dont forget affordable white metals such as silver, steel and titanium, which are great merchandise for the under-30 crowd.
Consider your Web site an integral part of your sales and marketing strategy. An online search is the first step for an increasing number of buyers. List your stores Web address on local sites and search engines. Is your site easy-to-use? Clearly convey how special your store is and why it deserves a visit. Consumers may want to buy at least some of your jewelry online, so make this possible.
Understand the Webs popularity. If youve never shopped online, ask someone who has. The advantages include using the Internet as a map to find stores, previewing to see whether a store is worth visiting, researching a category, mulling over a purchase without a salesperson hovering and browsing at odd hours.
Appreciate the power of information. Educating consumers has never been more important. Your site must include good, factual information supporting your image. Even if you dont sell online, your site should contain a mix of basic information and look at ever-changing trends to keep customers informed and amused. Update often. Many software programs are available to make this easier to do than it was just a few years ago.
Make sure your brick-and-mortar location is fabulous so you can tout this online to lure buyers there too. You have to go beyond boasts of a broad inventory and low prices to convey you provide a retail experience worth having. Remember, it has to be convincing enough to coax consumers out of their pajamas and away from their computers. The key elements: a relationship-based sales team, dramatic and interactive store design, plus truly unique jewelry.
Peggy Jo Donahue