Collective of retailers says digital investment is paying off.
The collective of retail jewellers behind the website Jewellers Ark have reported "exponential" sales growth in the past 12 months.
The Jewellers Ark initiative was formed 18 months ago by a consortium of independent jewellery retailers, all of whom are members of the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG). Together they set up Jewellers Ark as a new business under the government’s Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), creating an online, mobile and app sales platform selling jewellery and watches.
Sales made through the site are then divided between the retailers, with the nearest jeweller to the intended delivery address sending out the goods.
The site has also won success on rankings site Hitwise, with Jewellers Ark ranked in fourth position on Hitwise in the UK for some of its key branded items, behind the likes of Amazon, John Lewis and the brands themselves, and in its own words "beating the multiples and other independent retailers".
Jewellers Ark now hopes to achieve an even better position on Hitwise in 2013, and has been working with e-commerce platform specialists DreamAgility to boost sales on the site through the manipulation of Google’s paid advertising.
The recent introduction of Google’s product listing adverts (PLAs) – the small boxes that showcase product when you search for a jewellery or watch brand – have also impacted the company, as it claims to have found a way to work around them, without having to pay for the ads.
DreamAgility chief technology officer Glyn Powditch said: "Customers have never had so much information on the first page of Google – a single click away from their purchase – and it’s making retailing a blood bath.”
However using skills and strategies applied from other fast growing sectors such as online gambling, DreamAgility says it has been able to mould PLAs to Jewellers Ark’s advantage. Using a tool built especially to control the bidding on PLA’s, Jewellers Ark now claim to be getting more than 50% of paid advertising sales from PLA’s, at less than a third of the cost of pay per click adverts (PPC).
According to Jewellers Ark, its venture with DreamAgility is the first of its kind set up under SEIS, and allows the investors in the project to reclaim 78% tax relief on their investment.
Jewellers Ark chief executive Elizabeth Clark adds: “Since our IJL presentation at the European Exhibition, to a standing room only event, we’ve been inundated with requests from Jewellers and Manufacturers wanting to join the Ark."
Clark anticipates that the lure of best practice gathered from delivering multi-million pound uplifts to other industries and safety in numbers will prove a potent combination in 2014 for companies wishing to join Jewellers Ark.