Online jewelry retailers have the potential to seriously increase their revenues over the next three years, the International Data Corporation, an Internet market research group, reports.
IDC predicts a combination of others' experience and bricks-and-mortar store reputations will help the online jewelry market grow faster than consumer e-commerce as a whole. "The market will defy conventional wisdom that says consumers want to see and hold fine jewelry before they plunk down large amounts of money," Jonathan Gaw, a research manager with IDC's Consumer eCommerce Major Purchases Program, says. Factors contributing to the growth of the online jewelry market include an increasing amount of jewelry stores selling their products online, the lower prices of online goods, improvements in technology that will enhance online viewing and the no-pressure atmosphere of online buying.
The jewelry industry's late start with e-commerce is expected to be a major advantage. Gaw says the industry will benefit by learning from the mistakes of other industries. IDC expects online jewelry shoppers will be experienced Web shoppers and be comfortable with the e-commerce process. They will be more knowledgeable, but they will also expect good customer service and Internet selling experience, Gaw says.
Bricks-and-mortar fine jewelers who move online will have an advantage over their counterparts in other industries, IDC predicts. Brand names and the trust they convey will be the reason for the advantage because they carry more weight with fine jewelry purchases than other purchases. Most traditional retailers moving into cyberspace try to follow the e-tailer strategy, but that tactic doesn't have relevance in the case of fine jewelry, Gaw says. "The high price tags mean customers will probably always require some hand-holding and assurances during the process," he says, "and they will value the security of having a store to which they can return merchandise."
- by Julia M. Duncan