There is a simple phrase that can cause chill bumps even for the most savvy of jewelers. It’s benign, but its meaning is convoluted and terrifying.
“I saw this on the Internet...”
The sensory responders immediately go defensive, thoughts running wild, wondering what could they have stumbled across now? Fearing what is out there can cause these emotions, but having a better understanding and being prepared to work with Internet-shopping customers is vital for future sales.
Naturally, there are obstacles to overcome when dealing with sales over the Internet. Some of the more important factors we must navigate are photo editing and the absence of basic retail courtesies.
Photo editing is the most obvious flaw in the online world. Sellers are going to present their stone in the best image possible. This includes enhancing the saturation or presenting it in such a way that hides any flaws. This is a common practice in order to drive traffic and desire for their products. Many times online consumers don’t realize the stone won’t look the same in person.
Online pictures can be a good starting point for color, but they shouldn’t be the driving force due to lack of exactness. Explain to your client that photos may not translate well from one computer screen to another or from a phone to tablet. Resolutions are difficult to keep consistent.
Buying from an Internet only vendor is obviously not the same as walking into a store. The absence of working with a professional during this process should be a major issue for your customer. It’s essential for customers to have the ability to view different options while seeing the varieties of color in person, all while learning about what they’re buying.
Return policies may be erratic with online vendors. It can be difficult to send back items someone doesn’t like with many online companies. One client had a customer who purchased something from an overseas online company, believed it was synthetic and wanted to return it. However, the online company stated they required two separate lab reports (that the customer must pay for) saying it was fake before they would accept a return - of their stone! This is just another opportunity to capitalize on the customer focused experience.
Many of these issues may seem like setbacks, but spinning them into a positive is important moving forward. While weeding through customers who just want to be assured they “found a good deal,” many are genuinely interested in buying from brick-and-mortar stores. Buying from the Internet comes with uneasiness, so they want to go to someone they can trust. Selling ‘ease of mind’ is something the Internet can’t offer and establishing a trust pipeline can lead to a fruitful future.
Believe it or not, the Internet has produced many positive trends that are still common currently. Morganite’s journey from simple cast away to bell of the ball is well documented over the last few years. Various colors of sapphire, often disregarded, are now popular and profitable on the market due to Internet trends. Spinel has finally taken off with prices rising rapidly due to online presence and popularity. Many in the industry believe spinel’s spotlight is long overdue and the Internet has helped reach its deserved popular status.
Educating the public about these trends and stones are crucial. Trusted wholesalers need to properly educate retailers about what is real and sustainable. This will allow the chain of information to reach its penultimate goal, a sale and a happy customer.
This may come as a surprise, but the Internet isn’t going away! Younger generations are online shoppers and helping customers navigate through the irrelevant is important for the future of the industry in the online era.
Author’s note: In my next article, I expand on this concept and focus on what drives deals and trends online.
Konrad Darling is the sales and marketing director for Darling Imports, a color gemstone wholesaler offering genuine and synthetics as well as lapidary services and stone identification. For more information contact Darling Imports at 800-282-8436 or www.darlingimports.com.