How is the jewelry e-commerce industry preparing now and for the year ahead?
Reports revealed that while the e-commerce industry continues to grow, the competition is only going to be fiercer as technology advances and customer behavior and preferences evolve. Technology advancements and new business models are a force at work and consumers are continuously demanding more revolutionary ways from online businesses to close the gap between what they see online and what they feel when they receive their orders.
Such demand puts greater pressure on online retailers. Sadly, those retailers who lack ingenuity will fall by the wayside, but those who recognize the demand respond with technologically-driven ways to satiate the appetite of today’s convenience-hungry consumers. Indeed, online shopping has passed the test and proven that there’s more to it than a fleeting fad. It is the future and convenience is the new norm.
Herbert Lui of Wonder Shuttle notes that while fast growth is visible, the fact that there exists a low market share opens up an enormous opportunity for newcomers. It is theirs for the taking if traditional industry leaders continue to ignore the evolving tastes and needs of the consumers.
Are you the traditional industry leader being described here or do you need reinforcements to better your products and services online?
It’s time to adapt or die!
Here are 10 key jewelry e-commerce trends to pay attention to as your online jewelry retail business navigates its way towards creating a brand experience that will make you stand out from a fiercer competition.
10 Trends that Will Shape the Jewelry E-Commerce Industry in 2020
According to Ovum, an independent analyst and consultancy firm in London, the road towards a sparkling e-commerce future is going to be extra-competitive. Instant gratification will mean more than what it does now by 2026. This evolving demand would require the meaning of instant gratification to extend to a seamless online shopping experience across all connected devices. This extension must not compromise quality, convenience, and immediacy. As such, most of the trends are focused on technological improvements. Here it goes!
1. Augmented Reality (AR) as a sales-boosting tool
AR is far different from Virtual Reality (VR), which offers more immersive digital environments compared to the former’s typical view of reality enhances by digitally-generated information or graphics. Given this description, Ovum predicts that AR will be a strong driver for e-commerce and this prediction also extends to jewelry e-commerce.
There are many reasons why AR will be a sales-boosting tool. Primarily though, it responds to the consumers’ demand we previously mentioned, which is the need to close the gap between what they see and what they receive when they order. By blurring this boundary, experts believe a reduction in product returns and an improvement in online shopping and in-store shopping experience. For example, Tissot, a Swiss watchmaker, uses AR technology window displays that allow consumers to try on a 3D model of the brand’s watches. Such AR window display installation has said to be stimulating interest, attracting consumers to go to the store, which resulted in an 85% increase in sales in one of its branches.
There are several ways to incorporate AR into your jewelry business such as the following:
- Marketing Campaigns
Use AR objects in your advertisements so that interested consumers can easily use their market-based AR app on their mobile phones to turn your item into 3D animated models.
- Try-on app
A jewelry try-on application will allow consumers to try your rings first before they buy, which can prevent possible product returns. It will also help when combined with personalization services such as letting them change the size and shape of the diamond, the metal or the color.
When you allow consumers to see how it would look on them before purchasing, you give them the confidence to buy. Some jewelry brands that incorporated the Jewelry AR try-on app into their business are Hamilton Jewelers, Laura Lively, Diamond Hedge, and the jewelry store CaratLane.
- AR showcase units
These will allow consumers to view your jewelry pieces up close, especially when attending trade shows.
2. Get ready for the social commerce revolution
We’ve all witnessed Instagram’s launch of shoppable posts – a feature that allows consumers to purchase your products directly from your post. Unlike the previous approach where you directed your consumers to the link in your bio or Instagram stories, this shoppable post feature improves consumers online shopping experience.
This year, you can expect to see the social commerce revolution finally happening. Consumers enjoy shopping on social media platforms. In fact, Instagram reported that since their launch of shoppable posts, its traffic has increased by 44%.
The expansion of the e-commerce industry to include social commerce is inevitable, especially that some big e-commerce platforms, in their efforts to scale, turn to work with big manufacturers; thereby, excluding small sellers. For other small jewelers, this revolution is beneficial.
If you’re someone who finds the process of driving traffic from many different sources draining and complicated, social commerce will be substantially easier for you. It is also an ideal place to target impulse buyers unlike consumers on big e-commerce platforms who are there with a carefully crafted vision of what products or designs they want in their heads.
3. The enormous sales-boosting power of 360-degree jewelry product videos
This year will be a year for the social commerce revolution, and this will have a significant influence on the visual presentation of products either on your website or your social media pages. As we’ve mentioned here, 91% to 96% of consumers have been demanding for a 360-degree product view capability as it helps them in making purchase decisions. With all the technological advancements, jewelry retailers would run out of excuses as to why they couldn’t satisfy that demand in the coming year.
Yes, product videos have been around for a while, but videos are going full 360 just like the 360 diamond ring video above captured using the GemLightbox and the GemLightbox turntable – a solution developed by Picup Media to help clients respond to the growing consumer demand and evolving visual world.
The GemLightbox solutions, as shown below, enable jewelry retailers to capture 360-degree videos with its add-on GemLightbox turntable and plain white background jewelry images using only a smartphone. Unlike the usual video-capturing process, these solutions do not require training or grand studio setup. With only one click, you can capture your 360-degree jewelry videos, and in under 2 minutes (depends how fast you are), you can upload it directly on all your online business channels.
The opportunities to engage consumers in a meaningful and more immersive and interactive way are endless. You must be able to leverage the existing technologies and solutions to make your jewelry product videos available in 360.
4. Embrace the mobile payments boom
Driven by the continuously growing number of mobile users, mobile commerce (m-commerce) will also result in a booming mobile payment trend. Ovum expects to see an increase in the number of mobile payment users from over 4 million in 2014 to over 2 billion or over $693 billion in the year ahead. Do note that this expectation only covers business to consumers or B2C mobile payments.
Initially, the growth of mobile payments lagged because of the disconnect between the point of sale acceptance infrastructure and the Near Field Communication (NFC) protocols; however, as support for NFC continues to grow from 29% to 37% alongside consumers’ appreciation for convenience, this lag should be addressed leading to increased adoption among merchants.
Based on the Kount’s 2018 Mobile Conference and Fraud Report, the merchants selling jewelry (71%) prioritizes the support for mobile commerce and mobile payments. This level of support is the highest when compared with other merchants selling electronics and computers, health and beauty, and other merchandise. So if you’re a new jewelry seller, consider this opportunity and jump on to better your consumers’ shopping experience. However, don’t forget to address a few of the challenges when implementing mobile payments such as those listed below. Always do your research and weigh the pros and cons.
Challenges for mobile commerce merchants:
- Maintaining consumers’ ease of use
- The lack of ability to detect fraudulent transactions
- Criminals continue to look for weaknesses in mobile transactions
5. A growing mobile-centric shopping experience
In case you haven’t optimized your jewelry website for mobile shopping, now is the perfect time to do so as Ovum believes that a mobile-centric shopping experience will dominate the coming year. The shift will be driven by the increase in sales volumes of smartphones in addition to its screens getting larger and larger; thereby, improving the quality of mobile shopping experience.
This trend goes beyond providing consumers with a seamless platform for jewelry purchases, but rather a well-optimized platform where they can fulfill all their needs in one shopping journey. For instance, through mobile, they must be able to do a product search, compare, talk to product assistant, or make payments.
6. The continuous rise of wearable technology
The rise of wearable technology in 2019 was initially predicted in 2015 when the Insight’s wearable tech report forecasted that over 245 million wearable devices would be sold in the coming year while Ovum reports that wearable devices will reach 650 million in 2020.
We’ve already seen smartwatches, but back then, smart jewelry pieces like rings, necklaces, and bracelets were not as prominent as the former. Now, the interest and awareness have already become widespread, and the predictions conveyed that the market is ready for it – even the market for other jewelry pieces.
For instance, Ringly, as pictured above, offers smart bracelets with features such as activity tracking and mobile alerts, so you don’t have to be glued on your phone, especially when you’re out on a date. Your bracelet will let you know when you have an urgent call or message to attend to. These smart jewelry pieces are enticing because it shows that jewelry pieces can be stylish, glamorous, and functional – all at the same time.
7. The rise of buy online, pick up in-store
With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, experts have observed a surge in online buying and in-store pickup purchases. For instance, last May, online shopping, in-store pick-up purchases were up at 248% compared to pre-pandemic data. Further, luxury online sales, while down 11% week over week, are doing better than pre-pandemic and were up 24%.
A report from PFSweb and Arlington Research showed that most of these purchases came from new customers online – a solid proof of COVID-19’s impact on online shopping behavior. Other findings from the same study showed that 45% of customers who bought from new websites during the pandemic will continue to buy from the said shop following a positive experience. Meanwhile, 39% of customers reportedly favored buying directly from the brands’ websites than an online marketplace.
Such online shopping behavior poses an opportunity for jewelers. Offering click and collect appears to be the most logical response these days given the movement restrictions and social/physical distancing in place. With the option of buying online and picking the item in-store, buyers will continuously avoid crowd exposure, long delivery windows, and shipping delays.
8. Look, but don’t touch
With the coronavirus surviving on surfaces, the ability to shop in-store would be difficult but this doesn’t mean it’s not doable.
For instance, once Macy’s reopen its stores, only a few fitting rooms will be open to serve their customers. They will also hold any items that customers will try on for 24 hours for proper disinfection before putting them back to racks.
Trying on items is crucial for jewelry buyers and there is an opportunity here. For example, jewelry stores can modify their Click and Collect systems where aside from buying online and picking items up in-stores, buyers must also be able to schedule an appointment to try on those items in-store.
Aside from virtual try-on, scheduling a try-on appointment is another safest approach to serve buyers who are not comfortable with virtual arrangements. Aside from eliminating crowded in-store spaces, it gives jewelers enough time to prepare the jewelry items, especially if there are many try-on requests.
9. Virtual jewelry consultations
If you’re new to online selling and thinking of ways to leverage technology in the time of the pandemic, explore the possibilities of virtual jewelry consultations.
Jewelers should expect a rise in virtual engagement ring consultations this year given the limitations posed by the current situation. Give potential buyers an option to book a virtual consultation with your jewelry experts via your website and other social media channels. This way, you can still meet the needs of your self-isolating clients/customers without putting them at risk.
Erase your apprehension. Do you know that 22% of respondents in The Knot’s 2019 Jewelry & Engagement Study, found love on dating apps? This speaks volumes about the influence of technology in relationships these days; hence, buying an engagement ring online is a rather acceptable approach and virtual consultations are no different, especially in strange times like today.
Conducting a virtual engagement ring consultation, as mentioned here by JCK, is very much like scheduling a video conference with your client. Explore this virtual service and bring your showroom to your client’s house without either one of you leaving the house.
10. The rise of new and improved delivery systems
The race to find new delivery systems is on!
Predictions in The Future of E-Commerce: The Road to 2026 states that the retail winners of 2026 are retailers who can get the goods to their customers in the most cost-efficient and fastest way possible.
However, delivery innovations cannot wait for the future as digital customers, with their increased buying power and restricted movement, are demanding not only fast but also safe delivery systems now.
China’s delivery technology has kept its major cities afloat. For instance, its digitally enabled delivery systems have enabled goods to be home delivered within 20 minutes.
In cities and countries that lack sophisticated technological support, business owners are left on their own to invest in new and improved delivery systems to gain differentiation advantage. Curbside pickup is an example of these systems.
A modified version of Click and Collect, curbside pickup allows customers to shop online and then drive to your store location or curb to pick up their orders without having to leave their cars. Kendra Scott is one of the many successful jewelry brands that enable curbside pickup.
The process is simple. Customers will check if their local stores are participating in the curbside pickup program, buy online, select store pickup, and the preferred pickup location before finally checking out. The store staff will get everything packaged within four hours and the buyer must notify the store upon arriving so that the store member, wearing a mask, will do a contactless delivery outside the store.
You, too, can do this; however, when you decide to implement a curbside pickup program, ensure that you have communicated clear instructions to your customers to avoid missed pick up schedules.
It’s a fiercer jewelry e-commerce competition, how ready are you?
The online jewelry market continues to sparkle, but it will never be without challenges. These e-commerce trends should help you tread a path towards a digital jewelry e-commerce world that prioritizes innovation, improved online shopping experience, and convenience no matter how challenging the situation.
Which of these trends have you already implemented and how did it help your jewelry business? Do you see other trends in the market that can shape the jewelry retail industry now and in the future?
Lastly, it’s clearly a time of great uncertainty, but as the world gradually reopens, how are you adapting to the new normal to avoid complete business disruption? Let us know in the comment section below!