Site Review | Professional Jeweler

October 3, 2000

Business-to-business, or B2B, sites are the latest rage on the Web, and market research companies say B2B sites are growing faster than business-to-consumer sites. GemConnect is a B2B site for the jewelry industry, which has received rave reviews from Forbes and is ranked among Forbes' "Best of the Web" in B2B.

GemConnect offers public and private trading in diamonds, colored gemstones and jewelry to retailers and manufacturers. To use the site, buyers and sellers must first register and provide information about themselves and their companies. Each person is verified by GemConnect before being given access to the site. However, there is a small demo section users can visit to learn more about GemConnect before registering. This section explains the parts of the site specific to buyers and sellers.

For all users, GemConnect has four sections: "GC Exchange," "My Account," "My Trades" and "Industry." "GC Exchange" is where buyers go to browse or search for items; sellers go there to sell items and create close-out sales. "My Account" allows users to update account information and create private trading groups. "My Trades" gives users updated information about the status of their bids and sales. The "Industry" section contains updated market information and links to news and events.

Buyers using GemConnect can browse or search through the diamonds, colored gemstones, jewelry and close-out sections. Buyers use the "My Trades" section of GemConnect to organize their use of the site. The section consists of "my bids" (buying), "my offers" (selling), "my close-outs," "my close-out bids," "saved offers" and "saved close-outs," listing how many bids or offers are pending for each. When you click on one of the options, the new page contains a table with information on all bids or offers in that category, and each can be clicked on for more detail.

Using GemConnect to sell merchandise couldn't be simpler. There is a form to fill out about each item. The seller must fill out the required information about each item to help match up searches, and items can be described more fully in the optional item and comment fields. Sellers can also include digital images. After filling out descriptions, sellers can choose how they want to sell each item -- with a set price, a dynamic price used for negotiation or through an auction. Sellers can also decide if they want specific items listed publicly for all GemConnect users or made available only to a private group. Last, sellers must specify the payment methods they will accept and the shipping companies they will use.

Overall, GemConnect provides its users with an easy-to-understand and user-friendly environment. Help isn't far away for anyone with questions. GemConnect offers online chat with customer service, an extensive FAQ list and contact information for e-mail, fax, phone and regular mail requests. GemConnect even offers to help people without Internet access use GemConnect for trading. It will work with people by phone and fax until they get online. Top all that off with great navigation, simple site design and a helpful staff and you have a great B2B site.

- by Julia M. Duncan