Is jewellery falling behind in e-commerce?

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As a select few brands celebrate web success many risk falling behind.

A recent report by digital think tank and consultancy L2 has revealed that Tiffany & Co. is the most innovative jewellery brand online in terms of its website, online marketing, social media activity and m-commerce accessibility.

The brand was classified as “genius” on L2’s Digital IQ scale, which considers factors such as site navigation, online customer service, e-newsletters and SEO marketing. On a scale that ranges from 70 to 140, Tiffany & Co. clock 143 Digital IQ points and was praised for being in a class of its own, successfully operating online across platforms such as e-commerce, m-commerce and social media. It is also the only brand with a fully functioning m-commerce site.

The report focused on the leading 35 global jewellery and watch brands, including Pandora, Chanel, Bulgari, Graff and Van Cleef & Arpels. Swarovski came second in a line up of otherwise high-end jewellery brands, scooping the spot for its that 67% of consumers in the EU and half of those in the US search luxury goods online before marking purchases, an evident opportunity to impress consumers with imagery, links, photos and brand and product information.

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The development of m-commerce has been an interesting online force this year, and jewellery brands developing m-commerce sites has risen from 7% in 2010 to 39% this year. Scottish retailer ROX is championing m-commerce in UK jewellery retail. This year it invested £25,000 in an m-commerce website that allows customers to browse and purchase using a smartphone. The retailer is believed to have been the first UK jewellery retailer to optimise its website for smartphone users, and said it expected a further 7,500 monthly hits when it first launched.

Recent research has shown that mobile retail searches soared 216% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2011 as the surge in online shopping continued, something that the L2 report also acquainted to the increase in iPad and tablet devices. Three in 10 of the luxury brands researched had iPad apps and more than half had created apps for iPhones.
As luxury brands look to become more accessible, many are ditching flash-heavy sites in favour of sites which have better search functionality, more product, shareable content that links to Facebook and Twitter and the ability to click and collect or reserve items online.

Not all brands perform so well online, with a number of famous names considered “feeble” on the Digital IQ index. De Beers was rated 18th out of the 35 brands, while Breitling and Harry Winston were joint 22nd and Rolex was positioned 28th, described by L2 as “the biggest digital disappointment in the sector”.

At the bottom of the scale were brands that, by and large, are considered out of reach for the average consumer but risked making themselves undesirable through their inaccessibility online; Graff Diamonds, Faberge and Patek Philippe to name a few.

L2 did note, however, that obstacles such as market concerns, counterfeit fears, price changes and retailer conflict were top reasons why brands were slow off the mark when it came to promoting and selling online.

The report showed that Tiffany was the only brand to provide in-store pick-up through its site, while TAG Heuer is the only brand to provide links to online retailers of its timepieces.

All but three of the 35 watch and jewellery brands featured in the Digital IQ index now maintain a presence on Facebook, with communities averaging more than 200,000 fans.

The majority of brands -35% – were considered ‘challenged’ in the digital arena, but promisingly more were average – 31% – than feeble – 29% – which shows progression in the luxury sector in its reach to digital users.
 position as leader of digital marketing among jewellery brands.

The top 10 jewellery and watch brands operating online were, in order, as: Tiffany & Co., Swarovski, Jaeger-LeCoultre, David Yurman, Cartier, Omega, TAG Heuer, Longines, and. in joint ninth place, Montblanc and Pandora.

Pandora senior vice-president of marketing Mikkel Berg told Professional Jeweller: “We are hugely flattered to be included in this report amongst other big brands and to be recognised for our work. We try hard to make use of all digital platforms in order to reach our customers, be it via our website, Pandora Club, iPhone app or Facebook. We always aim to deliver engaging content with a playful twist.”

While the report focused on online successes, it did suggest that the jewellery industry is at risk of losing respect from consumers through a general lack of digital innovation in the sector.

Of the 35 leading jewellery and watch brands just 29% currently sell online and only half have links to a store locator and just a third display product prices online. The report also revealed

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