The jewelry business is one of the most conservative industries out there. These companies are proud of their heritage and have always been eager to highlight that they are unique – that while the rest of the world is changing, they do not need to. However, over the last few years, it has been increasingly obvious that things cannot continue in this fashion. Digital technologies are too significant a part of our daily lives for even a very traditional industry to brush them aside.
Jewelry brands are finally realizing that these new technologies allow them to focus on customer experience like never before. So what is happening and how is it changing the industry? Let’s find out.
Modern retailer/customer relationships are all about personalization and customization, and the jewelry business is no exception. Customers expect businesses to treat them as individuals with their own tastes and preferences rather than as faceless clientele – both online and offline. This trend can be explored in a variety of ways: from collecting data on individual customers to make offers tailored specifically for their tastes to providing customization services (for example, Tiffany offers on-the-spot engraving services in their stores).
Educating the customer
For the longest time, the attitude of jewelry stores to their customers was purely utilitarian: they perceived them as walking wallets to extract varying sums of money from. While they’ve always treated their clients with the utmost respect, this does not change the fact that their primary goal has been to sell an item immediately and impress the customer enough that they will come back later.
Nowadays, the trend is moving toward giving clients a clear understanding of what they are buying. Instead of randomly offering different pieces in a specific price range, modern jewelers educate their customers so that they better understand what they are dealing with and are better suited to make their own choice. When a client knows something about different types of gemstones, specific jewelry designers, and style trends, they can make their own choices and form longstanding relationships within the industry.
No one can expect that a visitor to a jewelry store or an online storefront will simply look at the offerings and buy something more or less suitable. These days, customers expect their purchases to be surrounded by stories, both related to the brand in general and a particular piece. A brand that is attentive to the customer experience will make sure to satisfy this desire and share each piece’s design origin, how it was made, and where its materials were sourced. Since many aspects of the jewelry industry (e.g., mining) are perceived as exploitative and environmentally unfriendly, it is vital to soothe the customer’s conscience by demonstrating the brand’s adherence to fair-wage policies and environmental stewardship.
Despite the role of digital technologies in our lives, online sales of jewelry still constitute only a small portion of the market, no more than 10%. Customers are still wary of buying expensive and highly visible items without trying them on to see how they look. However, this does not mean that digital channels are unnecessary. People widely use online channels as preliminary sources of information before going to a brick-and-mortar shop to finalize the purchase. By streamlining online experiences and providing comprehensive information about each item, jewelry brands can significantly increase their physical store sales.
A jewelry store must offer an excellent hands-on experience to beat the competition; however, trying on different pieces may turn out to be time-consuming and even impossible (e.g., if a store does not have a specific model on hand). Augmented reality technology offers a convenient option making it possible to try out dozens (if not hundreds) of pieces quickly, without having to take each one out of a glass case. Shoppers can even try pieces that are not in stock in the store; they can be ordered when the customer finalizes the choice.
Early adopters have the advantage
The jewelry industry can benefit from new technologies in a variety of ways, and brands that are early adopters of these approaches will have a significant advantage over their more conservative competition. It is very likely that new, more flexible players will win a significant portion of the market, especially if they aim for younger consumers who are more fascinated with technology.