For jewelry retailers looking to harness the power of Internet in the most effective way possible, taking the API route may be as simple as plug and play. But sometimes it is not. API is not a one size fits all option, and a company would be wise to consider the various strategies available before taking the plunge. There are financial considerations, of course, but, as old saying goes, “sometimes one needs to spend money in order to make money.”
At its most basic level, API is both simple and inexpensive. Subscribers to trading networks like RapNet’s Instant Inventory and IDEX Onsite can embed a pre-designed search engine onto their own website, within literally just a few minutes, simply by pasting generated code into an iFrame. These widgets are generally quite capable, providing the company with choice as to what search options it would like displayed, and what information is then generated following a search. If they select to display prices for specific stones, they can provide fixed markups, and they also can link to grading reports, photos and 3-D images that can be turned and manipulated online.
A larger trading network’s data feed, which generally is updated every few hours, will typically include thousands of diamonds, which has been uploaded by multiple suppliers, some of which the jewelry company is familiar with, and others of which it not. Jewelers who prefer to limit the feed to goods provided by specific suppliers, whom they are familiar with and trust, are able to do so.
But while it is least expensive API option, live feeds have their drawbacks. One is that that the same stone is frequently displayed on multiple websites, belonging to brick and mortar jewelry stores that sometimes are located in close proximity and in direct competition with one another, and with prices that may be widely divergent. Indeed, a sophisticated consumer could locate the specific stone on one jeweler’s website, and then run a Google search, listing data related specifically to that stone, to try and ascertain as to whether it could be purchased cheaper elsewhere.
But, more importantly, if a jewelry retailer intends creating a more sophisticated website, listing his or her own merchandise together with inventory provided by an outside service, the live feed option is not really appropriate. In these cases, the data needs to be downloaded to the jeweler’s own server, where it will be processed by a made-to-order search application created by or on behalf of the jeweler. Because the application is customized, the jeweler has considerably more leeway in providing it with a unique look and feel. It also can interface with the company’s inventory management and accounting software, and provides the opportunity to offer a full ecommerce offering, where transactions can be completed online, as well as in the store itself.
Jewelers taking the alternative route are able to use the services of the major trading networks, downloading the data according to criteria that they have provided. But in these cases, the companies also have the option to work one-on-one with individual diamond suppliers that have developed the ability to provide their own API feeds. One of the most prominent diamond companies offering the service is MID House of Diamonds.
MID House of Diamonds’ easy-to-use online API module, via which recipients downloading its inventory set criteria as to what specific stones should be included, and what information and images should be displayed.
“We have taken a comprehensive approach to API, and are able to work with individual jewelers, in addition to regularly uploading our inventory to variety of the major trading networks, including RapNet, IDEX, Polygon and GemFind,” said Dotan Meirov, a principal at MID House of Diamonds. “What this means that clients are able to display our inventory on their websites, as their own, irrespective of the particular website solution they have chosen.”
For companies selecting to obtain data directly from MID House of Diamonds, the company has created an easy-to-use online API module, via which it sets criteria as to what specific stones should be included from MID’s massive inventory, and what specific data should be supplied for each stone, including links to images of the diamonds and their respective grading reports, as well as 3-D images that can be turned and manipulated in the same way one would do if examining the stone physically under a loupe, produced using the Vision 360 system.
“While jewelers who are able to process data received directly from MID House of Diamonds clearly need to invest more in the development of their website than those who rely on a live feed service, they enjoy the advantages that can only be provided to those working one-on-one with their supplier,” explained Meirov. “For example, if a diamond is selected by customer from a live feed, the sale will only go through once it has been ascertained that the stone is still in the inventory, and was not sold by some other retailer. But with a client that works directly with us, we physically will ensure that the stone is removed from the goods on offer the moment it is selected.”
“What we are happy to do is to discuss with any client a path best suited to their own requirements and proficiency,” Meirov said. “Under all circumstances MID House of Diamonds has the capability to be part of their solution.”
PART 2: API – A myriad of options