There are few things more life-changing in today’s society than Al Gore’s invention known as the internet. Well, maybe indoor plumbing. Okay, I’ll put air conditioning ahead of the internet too. And, I suppose, by default, I’d have to put the computer in front of the internet as well. And electricity is pretty sweet. I’m also kind of a fan of cameras, motion pictures, television, and videos. Now that I think about it, I’m kinda hooked on the automobile too!
This makes me ask; what has the internet really done for us? I think it mostly replaced things that were not broken. For instance, the internet gave us Wikipedia, which replaced the encyclopedia, which was not broken. The problem with Wikipedia is that most of the information posted there was NOT posted by researchers. The information posted is user-driven and not usually that accurate. Encyclopedia Britannica was never like that! You could take the Encyclopedia Britannica info to the bank, and get a loan on it!
The internet also brought us Google, which will give you 2,860,065,508 results in less than a half a second, most of them irrelevant. Come on, who goes to page 2 of Google when you’re looking for something? Between you and me, I was okay with 1 or 2 accurate results from 1 or 2 accurate sources at the library. But, you can’t ‘cut and paste’ from Encyclopedia Britannica like you can from Wikipedia, so the internet did give us that!
The internet has also allowed us to see what people used to keep inside their own heads. There are now unlimited options for people to let those crazy voices out for a stroll, for all of us to meet. Yes, the internet delivered us social media on a virtual silver platter. And to think, people used to have to keep all that craziness bottled up. Now it finally has a place to escape. Thank you, internet. NOT!
The internet brought us eBay. Now, our customers can tell us what we are allowed to charge – or they’ll just order it off of eBay. They can literally show us dozens of exactly the same thing (they think), only much cheaper. Why are we trying to rip them off when they can see right there on eBay what it costs?
Oh, but eBay has that other side. Whenever someone doesn’t like the price we offered on the jewelry they’re selling, they always say; “I’ll just put it on eBay and sell it there. I see them listed on eBay for way more than that.” My response is always the same; “Oh, good idea. Everyone goes to eBay hoping to pay full price.”
And speaking of all of those crazy voices inside people’s heads, another outlet the internet gave us is Etsy. Etsy is where every ‘wannabe jewelry designer’ has a platform. I’ve never seen more ‘that’ll never work’ craziness in one place than on Etsy.
Etsy is the place where every piece of unwearable, poorly designed, bad ideas live. Oh look, it’s only $29.95 for a full carat of Diamondites, what a deal! And, as a bonus, it’s made of black gold. Man, that stuff is soooo cool. Who wouldn’t want two of those? Well, it’s your lucky day because it’s buy one, get one free today if you download a groupon off of the internet. Now you have one for this week, and one for next week – when the first one breaks.
And, just when you think it can’t get any worse; Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Pinterest. Etsy just couldn’t contain all that creativeness in one site. You know, because if $29.95 is out of your budget, you can find it on Pinterest for $26.50 – plus free shipping. Of course, Pinterest doesn’t have the ‘2 fer 1’ groupon, but the price is so much better. How could you resist? Honestly, I would be happy for the rest of my life if no customer ever showed me something they just love on Etsy or Pinterest again!
Let’s not forget though, that neither of the above sites would be possible without another wonderful technological advancement – Photoshop! You know the first rule of selling online; it doesn’t have to look good in person, it only has to look good in the photograph. Every time any of us post an item for sale online, we never use the original photograph that we took of the item. That would be crazy. We open it in Photoshop, bring up the contrast, lower the shadow, increase the hue, lower the tint…crap. Now it looks Photoshopped. Then we hit ‘revert to original’. Ugh, it looks ugly now. More contrast, no wait, less contrast more tint. Maybe some sepia tone. Oh yeah, now it looks antique. Perfect! I bet I can get double the money now that it’s an antique!
An item ordered online, not looking anything like the ad, is not new. I remember as a kid, in the back of every magazine, there was an ad for ‘Amazing Live Sea Monkeys’. The ad showed a family of mermaid like creatures that I just had to have. The only thing keeping me from owning them was the $3. Once I finally got the cash together, I sent it off and waited eagerly by the mailbox every day for my new family to arrive. Then they did. Wow, what a disappointment. I got a packet of some powder I poured in the new fish bowl I’d bought and within a day, I had some weird shrimp looking things swimming around in murky water. Now, like then, the items ordered off of the internet usually don’t bring you the enjoyment the description promised that it would.
My point is this, the internet is just there. It’s not good. It’s not bad. In my opinion, it’s more inaccurate than it is accurate. It’s just something us retailers have to deal with. It will never replace brick and mortar entirely, even though Amazon.com tries every minute of every day. We can only keep plugging along, photoshopping our pictures, putting them on the internet, and continue to adapt to an ever-changing environment.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get on the internet and straighten out some @#$&%$$ people with my expert opinion.
Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.