Your Business Online | Professional Jeweler

October 31, 2000
E-Business Solutions: Part 1
This is the first in a series of Your Business Online articles about e-business solutions for jewelers. These articles will cover various business-to-consumer and business-to-business solutions.

The holidays are coming, and many independent jewelers are frantic to get on the Web. Unfortunately, building an e-commerce site isn't something that happens over night. Building any new store, real or virtual, takes time and planning, but there are ways to move quickly and save time, especially in the virtual world. Over the last year, many companies have formed to create one-stop Web solutions for jewelers. Some companies offer business-to-business marketplaces to make buying and selling inventory simpler, and others offer to build e-commerce Web sites just in time for the holidays. A few new companies, however, offer all of that and more., the joint venture of Jewelers of America and Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America, provides jewelers and manufacturers with comprehensive e-commerce solutions. It launched at the beginning of October with only some of its many services fully operational, but the site is expanding daily. JNet provides retailers and manufacturers with the tools to create e-commerce Web sites easily without having to learn HTML. JNet will help jewelers get an e-store up and running, host the Web store and let jewelers choose their own Web address.

JNet will provide B2B solutions for jewelers and manufacturers as well. In JNet's B2B marketplace, manufacturers can put their entire catalog online, and jewelers can add a manufacturer's product to their own online stores with only a few mouse clicks. JNet users will be able to buy and sell in the B2B marketplace in any way they choose, by auction, fixed price, negotiation or other means. All JNet retailers and suppliers are verified at registration, and there's a yearly membership fee for the services.

Enjewel also offers e-commerce solutions for jewelers and manufacturers, but it differs in many ways from JNet. Enjewel's goal is to allow customers to shop for fine jewelry online, but still get the traditional after-sale service from a local jeweler. Enjewel has enrolled over 400 retailers, manufacturers and designers for its network, which launched Oct. 2.

To work with Enjewel, jewelers provide a link to Enjewel on their Web site's main page and on 75% of the other site pages, agree to use their Web address in all marketing and advertising and provide after-sale service to customers. When customers make purchases, they select a local jeweler from Enjewel's affiliate network. Retailers are paid a commission based on the merchandise purchased and how customers entered the site. For example, if a customer enters Enjewel through a link on the retailer's site, the retailer is paid 20%-50% of Enjewel's margin on the customer's purchases. If the customer enters through Enjewel, the jeweler chosen by the customer receives 10%-30% of Enjewel's margin. Jewelers don't even need to have the product in stock or deal with the hassles of shipping; Enjewel stores and ships the merchandise.

If a jeweler doesn't have a Web site but wants to join Enjewel, Enjewel will build a four-page site for the jeweler, but it will not have e-commerce capabilities. Currently, Enjewel is offering the Web site service free to jewelers who partner with them. As for B2B services, Enjewel sees these as a natural extension of its current B2C network and will be adding them in early 2001.

Both companies offer valuable services for jewelers. Jewelers who want to sell their inventories online and work with their manufacturers online will benefit from JNet. However, jewelers who want to make money online but don't want the hassles of running an online store and shipping products will be better served by Enjewel. These companies are not the only answer though. Many manufacturers have started affiliate programs for retailers – the manufacturer will create a Web store for retailers and ship the merchandise to consumers. Another up-and-coming company, Jeweler's Now, will launch a full-service Web solution for jewelers in 2001. It will offer Web sites, B2B services, inventory tracking systems and will even work with retailers to help them make more sales.

- by Julia M. Duncan