November 29, 2000
Business-to-Business Solutions: Part 1
This is the first in a series of article about business-to-business marketplaces for the jewelry industry
Have you ever had a customer who needed a diamond you didn't have in stock and wanted it right away? Wouldn't it have been great if you could have found the diamond in only a few minutes and made the sale? Thanks to a bunch of new business-to-business sites for diamonds and other loose gemstones, you can find the goods you need in just minutes.
B2B sites are springing up all over the Internet, and the jewelry industry will soon be overwhelmed with jewelry and gemstone B2B sites. Sure, some of them will fail, but some of them will survive and create a whole new way for you to do business in cyberspace. You may already be getting phone calls and mailings from B2B companies, but it can be hard to see the differences between the companies, leaving you wondering whether you should join at all.
Joining a diamond or gemstone B2B site can make it simple to find the stones you need when you don't have much time. Most sites say you can find, purchase and receive the gems you want in a day or two. This can come in handy if a customer wants to special order an engagement ring or other diamond jewelry. B2B sites also give you a variety of dealers to choose from. You can buy from any dealer or you can specify which dealers you want to work with and only buy from them.
Most diamond and gemstone B2B sites offer similar services. They have an open marketplace where dealers post their inventories and buyers browse or search through the available stones. Some sites, including RapNet and Diamonds & Jewelry View, allow users to create private trading groups and only deal with people they choose. Right now, the diamond B2B sites have diamonds at fixed prices and some are available for negotiation. Auction formats have become popular on other B2B sites, and some diamond sites, such as Diamond Floor and Diamonds & Jewelry View, plan to offer auctions in the near future. Charges and fees vary by site and range from free to a small commission on each sale to a monthly or yearly membership fee. However, before paying big bucks for membership to a B2B site, check out the competition and make sure it's worth it.
Most, if not all, of the diamond B2B sites screen users to make sure they are legitimate buyers and sellers. Some also require all diamonds have a certificate from a major gemological lab. Diamond Floor will even have all diamonds recertified before they are delivered to the buyer. Besides the trading marketplace, some B2B sites also offer news, chat and other services. GemDax, expected to launch to the Asian and European markets in early March, plans to offer technical and e-business consulting to members who need it. Diamond Floor, which launched in November 1999, has live diamond price statistics and an e-mail newsletter. Diamond & Jewelry View provides members with news, events listings, chat and educational resources.
Before filling out that online form to sign up with a B2B site, there are a few questions you should ask:
Once you know what you want and what sites have to offer, sign up for the site or sites you like best. Most have good customer service and technical support to help you with any problems or concerns.
- Can you filter out the dealers you don't want to work with?
- Is there any way to find out if a dealer is reliable?
- Does the site guarantee the stones or appraise them before you buy them?
- Do the dealers you trust use the site?
- How much will it cost?
- Are the prices fixed or can you negotiate?
- by Julia M. Duncan