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Cutting-edge digital lessons for jewellers

A new study has provided insight into the digital strategies that high-profile jewellery and watch brands are employing to get ahead online. TALIA PAZ discusses the takeaways for independent jewellery retailers.

The need for jewellery businesses to have an online presence might have been debatable in the past but that ship has long sailed. There is no escaping the reality that digital now plays an integral role in a traditional bricks-and-mortar retail business.

The practices of larger, high-profile jewellery and watch companies provide good examples of online strategies that work and a recent study honed in on this subject.

The Digital IQ Index: Watches & Jewelry report by research intelligence firm L2 analysed the online strengths and weaknesses of 70 jewellery and watch brands.

Each brand was assigned a score based on website and e-commerce capabilities, digital marketing, social media engagement and smartphone compatibility. From there, the score determined the company’s rank across five Digital IQ categories, the highest being ‘genius’ and the lowest being ‘feeble’.

Tiffany & Co and Cartier were the only two brands to receive ‘genius’ status whereas 16 brands placed in the second-top category of ‘gifted’, including Swarovski, Pandora, Tag Heuer and Mont Blanc.

The report noted that jewellery brands significantly outperformed watch brands with an average Digital IQ score of 97 compared to 89. Interestingly, it added that lower price-point ‘mass brands’ performed particularly well – Pandora, Swarovski, Alex and Ani and Shinola all registered in the top 10.

What follows is an outline of the report’s key findings, which could act as a useful guide for smaller, independent retailers.

Become a concierge

It is widely known that consumers are comparing price, quality and style online before making purchases from a bricks-and-mortar store. According to the report, price transparency is therefore an important consideration and luxury brands are increasingly faced with the dilemma of deciding whether or not to display pricing on websites.

The study found 44 per cent of watch brands did not provide pricing online compared to 24 per cent of jewellery brands. Further, it highlighted that several brands were employing digital ‘concierge’ methods in an attempt to drive consumers in-store without listing prices. Examples included online appointment scheduling, allowing concierge contact via a web form and providing a phone number to connect the customer to a concierge.

L2 research associate Sam Romanoff tells Jeweller that sophisticated, assisted-purchase capabilities were crucial for brands that lack direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce functionality.

“This entails services by way of email/web form, call to purchase, live chat and so on,” Romanoff explains. “Half of jewellery brands studied boasted a concierge service in some form.”

Cartier’s concierge feature was referenced in the report. The jewellery company allows customers to schedule an appointment in three steps: select a store; describe the reason for the visit; choose a day and time using the interactive calendar. The consumer is then sent an email confirming the details of their appointment with the brand.

Watch brand IWC was another business profiled; it provides a pop-up box on every page of its site that prominently displays concierge contact information and hours of availability as well as a link to book an appointment at a local store. Clicking on the ‘email concierge’ link from a product page opens a web form with details of the item, including photos.

Graphic shows online price strategy of watch and jewellery brands. Image courtesy: L2
Graphic shows online price strategy of watch and jewellery brands. Image courtesy: L2

User engagement

Among the social media platforms utilised by watch and jewellery brands, Instagram proved to be the most popular. The photo-centric app captured 83 per cent of the total interactions in the past 12 months compared with Facebook’s 16 per cent and Twitter’s 1 per cent; however, when YouTube views were added into the mix, the top contender for total interactions changed and YouTube came out on top with 78 per cent, followed by Instagram with 18 per cent.

L2 research associate Arushi Khosla doesn’t necessarily believe independent jewellery retailers should focus on YouTube videos.

“YouTube is 100 per cent pay-to-play and, as such, only makes sense for brands if they have the budget to invest in paid support to amplify views and engagement,” Khosla explains. “Instagram is increasingly limiting organic reach but it is still possible. I would focus on developing a well-thought-out content strategy that zones in on bold product imagery and any influencer/celebrity spotlights with some paid support.”

Debra Templar, founder of retail business consultancy The Templar Group, agrees, stating Instagram is undoubtedly the platform that consistently drives customers into stores.

“Leave YouTube to the jewellery brands and [instead] utilise the brands’ videos for your social media posts,” Templar advises independent jewellers, adding that Instagram needs to be used on a constant basis in order for it to be effective.

“Use [Instagram] consistently and regularly – a minimum of every second day – and ensure you have a story to tell and a look you want your page to have; curate relevant posts from the brands you stock and share them across your page. Instagram needs to be a curated version of your shop.”

It’s not just about using Instagram; it’s about using Instagram correctly, Templar explains: “Instagram demands good photos. Assuming you have a current mobile phone, the cameras are excellent for taking A-grade photos. Do not post rubbish photos on your Instagram page.”

Think mobile and SEO

In the past 12 months, brands have shifted focus to mobile-friendly sites rather than apps, according to the report. The study stated that mobile web audiences were three times as large and increasing twice as fast as app audiences. In addition, 56 per cent of the brands analysed did not have an app and many more are no longer updating their apps. In fact, some have eliminated them altogether.

Meanwhile, jewellery and watch companies are also demonstrating distinct search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts in response to ‘grey market’ sites dominating digital visibility.

L2 highlighted that the brands featured in the report controlled 51 per cent of the top three organic Google results when using branded keywords such as ‘Chanel’ or ‘Rolex.’ If a product term was added – for example, ‘Rolex watch’ – the brands controlled 68 per cent of those Google results. When the query became more specific and included an actual make or model term, the brands maintained 64 per cent of the results.

Table provides description of each digital IQ ranking. Source: L2
Table provides description of each digital IQ ranking. Source: L2

Other takeaways

According to a study by McKinsey & Company titled Digital inside: Get wired for the ultimate luxury experience, 75 per cent of all luxury sales are influenced by an online touch-point. The L2 report noted that incremental investment in website features that facilitate product discovery will continue to increase as a result.

Furthermore, Romanoff emphasises the importance of quality content.

“Build enhanced, guided selling features by integrating rich, immersive content onto brand pages and rendering them shoppable,” he advises, adding, “Ninety-seven per cent of the brands studied had adopted guided selling features but most lacked a tie between content and commerce.”

It’s also interesting to highlight that the importance of email has not diminished. The study references a report by Luxury Daily that states 75 per cent of luxury e-commerce customers and 25 per cent of in-store customers subscribe to newsletters. What’s more, email subscribers spend 25 per cent more on a yearly basis; however, according to L2, watch and jewellery brands continue to underutilise email marketing.

“During the past year, L2 observed that Index brands sent an average of 0.7 emails per week to newsletter subscribers, which pales in comparison, for example, to the 17.5 emails per week sent by department store brands,” the report read.

The jewellery and watch industry has no choice but to embrace the digital era and the good news for Australian and New Zealand retailers is that there are plenty of high-profile brands showing best practice.

Smaller jewellery businesses might not have the budgets of the companies analysed in the L2 report but digital strategies can – and should – be adapted to meet the demands of the modern consumer. If anything, the emergence of online has made the world a smaller place with more opportunities for small to medium-sized businesses to compete with international brands and chains.

Gaining customers is anyone’s game so go forth and conquer.

Website pricing – yes or no?

The decision to list prices on a website is often one that divides the industry.

Despite a wealth of research that suggests consumers use the internet to research products before making a purchase, research firm L2’s Digital IQ Index: Watches & Jewelry report states there are still watch and jewellery brands that don’t provide pricing information on websites. Specifically, the study found that 34 per cent of the brands analysed did not offer any pricing information. Of that group, 44 per cent were watch brands and 24 per cent jewellery brands.

In light of this, Jeweller asked several business and retail specialists to weigh-in on whether jewellery retailers should list prices on their websites.

Richard Shapiro, The Centre for Client Retention

Verdict: It’s a resounding yes

“They should definitely list prices on their website because it sets expectations for the consumer and builds trust. If I was looking at jewellery and there was not a price on the site, I wouldn’t spend the time contacting them to find out what the price is. I would move on or Google image search the piece and find it elsewhere, with price listed.

“The most important point for any jewellery online website is to make it extremely easy to reach a live person to ask a question. I prefer that the person’s photo and background also appear on the site as well as the hours when the associate would be available to speak. The photo helps to create an immediate relationship, which is key especially to jewellery sales.”

Debra Templar, The Templar Group

Verdict: Don’t just list; sell!

“This question begs another: ‘Why isn’t your website an online shop?’ Assuming the question is talking about websites without online stores then, in my opinion, too many jewellery retailers are using their websites as art galleries – they’re pretty but really don’t generate sales.

“The days of concealing prices are over, whether it be in a store window or on a website. If your prices are such a secret that you can’t show me, a potential customer, then please don’t worry about me – I won’t send you an email; I won’t walk into your store to ask ‘How much?’; I won’t fill in your Contact Us form. I’ll go to someone who does show me their price-points.”

Peter Ryan, Red Communication Australia

Verdict: Consider price indicators

“There is no black and white answer to this question; however, most consumers view a website as a source of information that blends elements of an online catalogue, a communications hub, promotion and the ability to transact in one easy-to-access place. The very least you need to do is let them get a position on where your ranges, departments or collections sit in terms of price.

“The difficulty is that you lay yourself open to comparisons with competitors and for competitor surveillance of your prices but there are always strategies to deal with this. I would always err on the side of the customer and give them all the information they need to act – even if it is only a price indication for a negotiation in store. Don’t let your refusal to disclose price become an obstacle to the customer shopping with you.”

Ian Spencer, IS Digital Marketing

Verdict: Yes... or lose the customer

“Jewellery retailers most definitely should put their prices on their websites. Without prices, and if you are selling comparable items, customers are going to avoid your company and simply shop elsewhere.

“If you are selling unique or luxury items, I can understand why you might not display prices but prices are a major part of the consumer buying/purchasing decision for most comparable products. Without them, you are going to lose customers who will simply go where the information is readily available.”

Nancy Georges, Magnolia Solutions

Verdict: Consumers won’t work for a sale

“Today’s customer uses websites to shop and gather info. I know established retailers who say that removing the price gives customers a reason to contact them but this is outdated and not at all true. Others will say they don’t want their competitors to know their prices. Again, totally outdated; customers know more about the variety and price out there than most retailers!

“Customers won’t call stores to ask for information that should be available on a website. They will see this as a retailer who is out of touch with the marketplace and not engage further. In 2017, every business must be truly customer-centric and have a website that is an extension of its in-store customer service activity.”

Karyn Greenstreet, Passion for Business

Verdict: Put it to the test

“Whether you put your prices on your site is a personal decision that depends on your business and marketing strategy. Just make sure you base your decision on what’s helpful to customers and what’s right for your marketing plan. If you don’t put your prices on your site, it may be helpful to explain to people why you didn’t include them and explain the next step in the process – prospective customers will be curious to understand why they need to speak with you first.

“The best thing you can do is test it. Put your prices on your website for two to four weeks and compare the results. If you get more enquiries, more sales and easier conversions then you know your audience found it helpful.”


Talia Paz • Staff Journalist

Talia Paz is a staff journalist for Jeweller, and has more than three years' experience as a freelance journalist for national and international publications, covering a wide range of industries.

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