Where does the diamond jewelry customer’s shopping experience begin? Assuming that the intention to buy an item already exists – as part and parcel of the marriage proposal routine, for instance – what convinces the consumer to buy it from one specific vendor as opposed to another?
Today, more often than not it will begin online, and particularly for those millennial consumers who comprise the bulk of young people getting married. According to a survey published by Retail Dive, 67 percent of all consumers say they research products via the Internet before shopping for them in brick-and-mortar stores. One in five shoppers say that doing pre-shopping research on the web is essential, and only one third reports they do not do online research before heading to a store.
The predisposition to do online research has a number of consequences for the jewelry retailer. It means that today’s consumers walk through the doors considerably better informed and educated than they used to do. It also means that the jewelry’s store’s website or mobile app is its most critical marketing tool, and it is thus recommended that a store institutes a comprehensive SEO (search engine optimization) strategy, consistently drives clients to its website through the integrated use of social media, and, most importantly, provides potential customers with a compelling digital experience. Simply stated, even if its physical showroom is less attractive and not as well stocked, when the jeweler up road does a better job than you do online at getting potential buyers into the store, he or she is more likely to make the sale.
The ability of the store to offer online a large variety of inventory that is relevant to its customers, in a visually exciting and informative manner, is of critical importance, and increasingly the preferred tools are APIs (application programming interfaces). These allow the businesses to display merchandise from outside data feeds that, at the specific point in time it is being viewed on the jeweler’s website by a potential customer, it remains in the possession of store’s supplier. Nonetheless, the goods are displayed so they appear to be the jeweler’s own offering.
How the inventory is displayed and what goods appear is essentially up to the retailer, who is able to select what ranges of diamonds will be included in the data feed, and what information will be provided to the retailer. Prices, for example, can be included, according to markup set by the jeweler. Alternatively, the jeweler may decide to provide such information only during the instore visit.
To obtain the data feed the jeweler has a number of alternatives. Many select to work with trading networks, which essentially aggregate inventory uploaded by a myriad of diamond suppliers, enabling jewelers to download that data and to display it on their own websites. MID House of Diamonds works with four such services including Rapnet, IDEX, Polygon and GemFind. Jewelers who subscribe to these services can select which diamond suppliers they prefer to work, or alternatively they can display goods uploaded by all suppliers, according to the criteria that they the jewelers themselves supplied.
To display the information on their own websites, the jewelers essentially have two options. The first involve predesigned widgets, offered by the trading networks, which essentially are templates of diamond search tools that can be customized to one degree or another by the jeweler. These are embedded into an iFrame on a page of the jeweler’s website, simply by cutting and pasting a line of HTML code supplied by the trading network.
The second option is that the jeweler designs his or her own search engine widget, which will have a unique look and feel. It, too, can feed into a data feed supplied by the trading network, or it can establish exclusive feeds provided by specific vendors. MID House of Diamonds is one of the diamond suppliers that is able to service such jewelers, enabling them to upload more than 7,000 certified diamond to their websites, for display to their customers.
“There was a time when a jewelry store’s display window was the deciding factor in whether buyers would be drawn inside,” said Dotan Meirov, a principal at MID House of Diamonds. “But today that general is no longer is the case. Increasingly, you need to catch their attention before they leave the house, and make sure it is your name and address that they punch into their GPS navigator. Our job, as a diamond supplier, is to make sure that, at any given point in time, you can display the inventory to make that happen.”