Last year, Bob Dylan won a Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” One of the earliest poetic expressions he penned was “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” which has been acclaimed as one of the early ‘60s great protest songs. In later decades, it has been adopted as a general change anthem and used in everything from product announcements to advertisements, and I often think of it whenever a paradigm shift forces business in new directions. I specifically think of these brilliant lines, “Your old road is rapidly agin’ … For the times they are a-changin’.”
Research shows us that retail jewelry sales aren’t just a-changin’; they have changed. Global luxury e-commerce is growing, and jewelry sales are a significant portion of that growth. According to the Technavio Global Luxury E-tailing Marketing 2015-2019 report, sales in this market are expected to reach $42 billion in the next two years. That’s a 100 percent increase over the $21 billion sales high of 2014.
The 2015 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ Study, conducted by comScore Inc., analyzed data from 5,118 U.S. online shoppers, 576 of which were identified as purchasers of luxury non-apparel goods, which includes jewelry and watches. The data collected by this study gives luxury retailers insight into how to grow sales in today’s environment where shoppers have more options and more access to goods than ever before.
So, how do jewelers compete on a playing field that has already changed so dramatically and continues to change and grow at an explosive rate?
First, they must connect with their customers – regardless of whether those customers are around the corner or around the world, i.e. virtual. How to do that? Establish a strong online presence with a well-designed website. Seven out of 10 online luxury shoppers prefer to research retailers and products online before they make a purchase, according to the UPS® study, and you can bet that the retailer’s website is one of the online stops consumers make during this information-gathering pre-purchase phase.
When designing an online presence – or perhaps updating an existing one to keep pace with increasing consumer demand – keep in mind the website content that luxury online shoppers from the UPS study ranked as the most influential when making their purchasing decisions:
- product reviews (70%)
- product/brand videos (58%)
- photos of products being used (53%)
- Q&A (50%)
- “Trending Now” items (45%)
- communities/forums (43%)
- retailer’s blog (41%)
Also, if possible, jewelers should consider offering configuration options (customization) to drive up their online sales (e.g. the ability to place varying sizes of stones in a ring setting).
Once an online presence has been established, jewelers need to maintain regular contact with customers to drive future sales. Developing a database of customers’ e-mail addresses allows retailers to easily connect with them on a consistent basis. In fact, according to the UPS study, e-mails offering a discount on or free shipping were the highest rated advertising options to prompt sales with a retailer.
Finally, remember that happy customers become brand ambassadors. According to the study, 56 percent of satisfied customers will promote a brand or product via social media, so positive word-of-mouth also can be key in growing business.
Times have changed. Hopefully these tips will help you compete in that ever-changing environment.
Dave Zamsky has been with UPS for more than three decades, building products and services to meet customers’ supply chain needs and helping to drive profitable growth for the organization.