February 14, 2000
Imagination is good, but wise retailers never place their livelihoods at the mercy of customers who may not have any.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with laying on a little strategic
flattery, as Inspiration Jewelry demonstrates with its
new Web site that allows customers to "design" their own jewelry. In
reality, this function has as much to do with design as choosing from a
fast-food menu does with cooking. But if allowing customers to think of
themselves as designers leads to a sale, why not?
Instead of burgers and fries, however, the Inspiration site is devoted to the three-stone ring. Visitors choose a center stone diamonds or colored gemstones in various shapes then have the option to try a variety of side stones. The process flows as naturally as, "Want fries with that?"
This isn't a criticism. The site is simple, offers a limited selection,
is easy to understand and loads quickly just like a McDonald's
drive-through. Lots of e-tailers could do worse, and have.
Inspiration's site opens with a big rock the classic round solitaire
engagement ring at center stage. From here, there are basically two choices:
Like it? Then hit the For More Information link (which wasn't working when Professional
Jeweler visited) for pricing or to order. For now, apparently, Inspiration is not doing e-commerce.
- Elements of Inspiration, which leads the visitor to a limited number of
diamond pieces (pendants, earrings, bands) in invisible settings, plus
Inspiration's "Stardust Collection" and its knock-out choice: a matching
bracelet/earrings/necklace set of square diamonds called "Hollywood Stars."
- Design Your Inspiration, where customers can quickly plug a virtual gem
into a setting and see how it looks with variously shaped side stones. Choose an emerald-cut diamond, for instance, and see it with trillion, bullet, tapered baguette, emerald or trapezoid sides. It's also possible to have the main dish without fries, er, sides, as a solitaire.
In addition, visitors can visit subsidiary pages to learn basics about the
company, advice about jewelry care or read a brief primer on the 4Cs and
view color/clarity grading charts. As on its sales floor, however,
Inspiration wisely resisted any urge to pack in everything it knows; none of
the information pages is more than one page long.
- by Mark E. Dixon