September 13, 1999
Mann's Jewelers in Rochester, NY, is an example of a jewelry store that's doing everything right on the Web. The marketing-savvy company, a fourth-generation jeweler, hasn't yet introduced its planned secure site for on-line ordering, but its current Web site offers smartly packaged educational information and interactive services useful to customers.
The site positions Mann's as experts on everything from jewelry shopping to fashion and gift-giving. The store provides a shopping checklist customers can print out when they comparison-shop for diamonds: Do the other stores give you a written guarantee? Do they provide a microscope? Product categories on the site go beyond listing the 4Cs and monthly birthstones. Small photographs illustrate life-size carat weights, diamond colors and shapes, and South Sea pearl characteristics. An estate jewelry timeline explains the characteristics of periods from Georgian to the 1990s.
Consumers can look at photos of designer jewelry and watches Mann's carries, but they can also get to know the designers and companies their histories, the materials they use, their styles and average prices. To further tie in its selection with current fashion, Mann's includes "What the Stars Wear," a page listing designer names and watch brands and the names of sports figures and movie stars who wear them.
The Forget-Me-Not feature is an ingenious way to draw consumers to the Web site. Once they register, they can request that the automated service remind them days or weeks before their friends' and family members' birthdays and anniversaries. When they sign up, they also can add the kinds of gifts the recipient prefers and ask a salesperson to contact them before the occasion. Registering will sign up customers to receive Mann's e-mail newsletter.
Technically speaking: It's obvious the Web designers for this site went to great lengths to make it easy to navigate. The navigation bar on the left changes within sections so subheads appear, eliminating the need for the annoying "Back" button. Most information resides on a single page so the information is easy to access. Image maps and pictures, which give the site an elegant look, load quickly.
- by Stacey King