JA's E-Commerce Strategy Heating Up

February 18, 2000

JA's E-Commerce Strategy Heating Up

Today, Jewelers of America announced the development of a major new e-commerce initiative for its members, which is still under wraps and in development. Currently, all JA members can create a simple, free Web site through JA, but this new initiative is different, says Caroline Stanley, JA's director of marketing and communications.

Though JA could not release more details just yet, its initial press release says it's reaching out for "broad-based industry participation." One possible clue to the association's plans – which fit into JA's profile as an industry catalyst – was hinted at in the list of goals for the new initiative.

JA says one of its goals is to "minimize channel conflict with other industry sectors (i.e. manufacturers, other vendors, etc.)." This statement reflects the core JA constituency's widespread concern that new jewelry e-tailers, as well as manufacturers and designers who sell direct to consumers online, are causing intense competitive pressures for traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers.

Conversely, jewelry producers and e-tailers are also learning quickly that lack of a bricks-and-mortar strategy is a problem for them, too, in terms of customer services such as appraisals, repairs and other "on-the-ground" necessities when selling jewelry. In addition, many suppliers have exclusive regional selling agreements with traditional retailers in the U.S., which are hard to honor with a nationwide online presence. Loss of business and goodwill with those retailers is a major concern.

"Jewelers of America believes that the industry's presence on the Web must be inclusive and broadly encompassing and that the industry must establish and maintain the ability to shape its own destiny on the web," the release says.

- by Peggy Jo Donahue