COVID-19 Advice Series from Retail Jeweller: Has coronavirus highlighted the importance of ecommerce for small jewellers?14 May 2020
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Although the in-store experience of purchasing a piece of jewellery is unmatched by the online alternative, the pandemic has highlighted just how important having some sort of digital presence is. Amad Tababa, digital director at brand agency Champions (UK) plc, explains.
Before the pandemic, many jewellers I spoke to placed their ecommerce website lower down on their list of priorities. They stood by their physical stores, encouraging their buyers to come in and experience their brand, heritage and history, which all adds to the character and charm of the piece of jewellery they’re purchasing.
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this, an online presence in this day and age is crucial for business and for attracting new customers. And never has this been more apparent than during this lockdown period.The benefits of ecommerce
Whilst stores have been forced to close and social distancing likely to be in place for the foreseeable future, businesses that rely solely on in-store sales will continue to be impacted.
I have spoken to a few jewellers in recent weeks and some of them have struggled to generate income during this period because of their lacking online presence.
That said, I have also spoken to multiple clients whose websites we have built in the last year and they have continued to earn considerable amounts in sales and increased enquiries, despite stores being closed.
They have explained how through their ecommerce websites they can showcase products from home to potential customers, communicate remotely, which is important with such significant purchases, accept online payments and then securely post items to customers.
This clearly explains the difference between businesses who have embraced ecommerce practices and those who did not consider it a priority. Those who have, have certainly been less impacted by current events, which highlights the benefits of ecommerce for business continuity and competitiveness.The importance of integration
One of the biggest challenges that jewellers face when going digital is the integration between their website, point of sale and CRM systems. Implementing a process which achieves a level of integration that maximises ease, efficiency and accuracy often involves a significant investment.
We understand this and can recommend and advise businesses on the options available. In most cases, this will involve the integration of merchant accounts or payment gateways which facilitate online payments.
Automation is also an important aspect to consider as this allows jewellers to access and manage information and orders remotely through cloud-based platforms. This makes running an ecommerce business much easier, particularly under the current circumstances.
In recent weeks, there has been a surge in downloads of payment gateways and enquiries regarding integration and automation extensions, which suggests that businesses are beginning to recognise the benefits.How to build your online platform
Although this all sounds good in theory, many small businesses see an online platform as a costly investment but I can assure that this isn’t the case.
While some investment is required when building an ecommerce site, by doing the research and speaking to an expert, your budget will not be stretched. Doing both of these things will allow you to identify what to prioritise and what platforms will work best for your business, minimising any wasted time and money.
I always recommend starting small. Understand who your customers are and target just them and your efforts will certainly pay off.
Top five tips on going digital:
- Set up an ecommerce platform – Whilst it doesn’t have to be advanced, it does need to be done well as it is an investment which will future-proof your business. You also want your customers’ online experience of shopping with you to be just as good as the in-store one.
- Start optimising – This is essential in ensuring people can find you online both now and in the future.
- Start posting on social media – People are spending more time on social media than ever before. Creating engaging content for your channels is a quick and effective way to expand your reach.
- Paid advertising – Whether it's search, shopping or social advertising, this is a great way to get your products seen online. You can also target a more engaged audience by retargeting those who have already expressed interest by visiting your website.
- Let your customers know - Contact your regular customers to let them know you’re online. You can use email marketing or get creative and find ways, such as using incentives, to get the local community who already know who you are to back you online.
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