Last updateWed, 15 May 2019 3pm

Retailer Roundtable: How do you deal with a potential customer asking you to match a price from the internet?

RR Lewis“If a young person comes into my store with an internet price list, chances are they distrust whatever source(s) they’ve found on the internet. We operate under that assumption and that this individual is simply looking for some professional advice from a trustworthy source. During such a sales presentation, we take the opportunity to inject a little fear of the internet. Jewelers like me work with reputable diamantaires to source fine diamonds. Like an old wreck sold in a car auction, lower quality, what I call ‘orphan’ diamonds, go to internet-based companies, and are sold to unsuspecting and inexperienced buyers. The grading report just tells a diamond’s measurements, and it doesn’t tell you whether or not the diamond is pretty. I can show him two diamonds that have the same grades like color and clarity, yet they look completely different. When the customer sees the difference, it’s a slam-dunk. Also, we’re an authorized Forevermark Diamond retailer. These are not sold on the internet and is a product unique to authorized jewelers. Finally, we warn the customer who is shopping for the cheapest diamond that’s what they will end up giving their loved one - a cheap diamond. They just think they want the lowest-priced diamond until they learn otherwise. Selling is nothing more than conveying that the benefits outweigh the cost of the product. You don’t get that online.”

Tim Lewis, CEO
Lewis Jewelers
Moore, OK


RR Hilderbrand“Doesn’t matter if it’s a watch battery or a diamond, more than likely we’ll match the price of a competitor. In the case of the diamond, however, I still need to make some margin on the sale. But I do look closely at the source to make sure the customer didn’t have access to a wholesaler’s website. But to be honest, I really don’t see much of this [price lists], especially in the Austin area. Interestingly, folks in this area are very tech savvy, so they know how to access this information online. I’ve been in my present location for four years and my previous location for 9 years, and we’ve only literally had a handful of customers enter the store with price lists from the internet. But of course, there is that rare exception. A gentleman came in here with a 3-carat oval from an internet-based company that was giving him an incredible deal, one I simply could not match. I told him to go ahead and buy the diamond based on the price and quality of the oval, which I’m assuming the dealer was letting go at such a good price because they were having trouble selling a large oval. I told the customer to bring in the diamond and the grading report to make sure everything was legit. And it was. We set the diamond for him in our setting. This customer appreciated the honest answer and has been a very good customer of ours. I’ve been in this business for 34 years. You just deal with it as it comes.”   

Van Hildebrand, owner
Hildebrand Jewelers
Austin, TX


RR Bullock“We don’t see that [price lists] as much as other jewelers, I think based on the way we sell diamonds. Yes, a lot of the times potential customers do come in stating they’ve seen something they like online, but the fact is they aren’t finding out what they want on websites. That is why they came in to the store in the first place - they were missing something from their buying experience. For example, a customer will see price disparities on a 1-carat diamond they like on BlueNile.com, and they wonder why a diamond of seemingly similar weights and qualities is priced from $3,500 to $6,500. What they usually want is the opportunity to see the difference. We’ll typically find diamonds that closely match the online diamond’s specifications and bring in a variety of price points. When we show them to the customer, we don’t even bring up the specs of the diamond. We just let them look and pick the one they like the best. After that, we tell them the specs, the prices, and ask them, ‘Do you see a difference in the diamond you picked that justifies the price for you?’ Ultimately, the customer will buy with their eyes, recognizing the beauty and qualities of a smaller, better cut diamond or perhaps they want a larger, lower quality diamond. The main point is the customer is deciding on the beauty they see or the specifications they’re willing to spend their money on. If we as jewelers accept that people use the internet to interact and learn about the products we sell, that’s a good thing. The internet is simply a tool consumers use that we can capitalize on. It doesn’t have to be our enemy.”

Kyle Bullock, manager
Bullock’s Jewelry
Roswell, NM


RR Bond“We get a few of these every month. Our philosophy is you get what you pay for whether it’s food, electronics or even diamond-set jewelry. As a jeweler, it’s difficult for me to convey to customers that we can’t fix that inexpensive diamond ring off the internet, whether it’s from California, China or India. We actually have a small collection of rings purchased off the internet that we use in sales presentations, just to show by example. It runs the gamut from razor thin prongs or precious metal porosity in the prongs to missing gemstones and hollow ring shanks. We even have a ring that has ‘Made in China’ stamped on the inside shank. These samples work well to illustrate a point or two about internet diamond jewelry purchases. More often, we get people that bring in images on their cell phones and ask us to make jewelry they found on other websites or saw in other stores. We bring up copyright issues and the like. The interesting thing about these items we’re shown, from websites and even social media or other stores is our prices are only about $500 away from what they’re willing to pay. And, for that additional amount you get jewelry that’s a better product overall with thicker prongs and more secure settings, and a jeweler that’s in and part of your community that’s always here for you.” 

Devon Bond, co-owner
Garrick Jewelers
Hanover, PA


RR Foster“We don’t get much of that at our store because of the nature of our business. People come to us for custom-made, unique jewelry designs. Plus, throughout our history, we’ve never had a sale, discounted items, or matched or beaten an internet price list or item found online. When a jeweler does this, it’s the beginning of the end of their business. The way to compete with the internet is to have unique products that aren’t found on the internet - or chain stores or competing independent jewelers for that matter. Equally effective is creating a stronger online presence for your store’s website. Have the unique products customers are looking for and the information they need to get the jewelry purchasing process started.”

Adam Foster, owner
Adam Foster Fine Art Jewelry
St. Louis, MO


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