Your Business Online | Professional Jeweler

December 13, 2000
Business-to-Business Solutions: Part 2
Choosing the right jewelry B2B site

Jewelry business-to-business sites aren't much different from gemstone B2B sites. They have open marketplaces for buying and selling jewelry and may charge a membership fee or commissions on sales. However, if you purchase more than gemstones for your store, jewelry B2B sites will also help you. They can make purchasing jewelry lines from your suppliers simpler, quicker and more efficient, and you don't have to adhere to traditional business hours. You can browse the products of manufacturers you don't normally work with, giving you the opportunity to discover new lines perfect for your store. Some jewelry B2B sites even include suppliers of tools, equipment, displays and other non-jewelry products essential for your store.

When deciding on a jewelry B2B site, you first need to consider what products you'd like to buy or sell on the site. If you already have a reliable supplier for all the tools and equipment you need, then a site like GemConnect, which is focused more heavily on jewelry, may be right for you. If you'd like to have the option to buy or sell anything jewelry related, you should consider a more inclusive site such as JNet or Jewel Lynx. Next you should consider how you would like to buy or sell. Do you like the idea of an open marketplace where all members can browse every product, or would you like to have the option to create private trading groups so you can easily work with the suppliers you know? Most B2B sites are based on an open marketplace, but many also have the private trading option, including JNet and GemConnect. The third most important thing you must consider is how much you are willing to pay for the convenience of a jewelry B2B site. Most sites charge in one of two ways (though some may charge for both): a yearly or monthly membership fee or a commission on sales done through the site. Some also charge for auction listings and special services such as consulting and Web design.

After deciding what products you need, what trading environment you like and how much you want to pay, you will have narrowed the list of possible B2B sites down. What's left to consider is the differences between the sites. Most B2B sites have products listed with a fixed price. Some, including JNet and GemConnect, also have auction and negotiation capabilities. Most sites also differ on how they guarantee merchandise. Most carefully screen users, but then buyers and sellers must work out agreements with each other, and the site won't guarantee merchandise. GemConnect, however, will guarantee that sellers get paid and buyers receive their orders, and Jewel Lynx will hand inspect all merchandise not directly shipped from a confirmed reliable manufacturer.

Jewelry B2B sites also differ with what special services they offer. Jewel Lynx will handle all customer service and accounts receivable for manufacturers, and J-Dex, a new European site, has industry news, metals prices, event listings and job listings. JNet offers members a sophisticated inventory system they can link with their Web sites along with classifieds, forums, news and educational resources. GemConnect has a reputation management system where buyers and sellers rate each other anonymously and provides credit lines, escrow services, shipping and insurance.

Most importantly, before choosing a B2B site or a few sites, you should find out what sites your suppliers are using. You also need to consider how many other suppliers use the sites you're interested in. Since many of the sites mentioned in this article are only partially functional right now, you will need to find out when they plan to be fully operational. With the amount of sites in the market right now, many will fail before making it to that stage. Be sure to evaluate the site carefully before diving in.

- by Julia M. Duncan