Platform will allow designer-makers to interact directly with clients.
A new player has entered the online jewellery retail market that is aiming to act as an eBay for designer-makers in the industry.
JewelStreet was soft launched in mid-October online at jewelstreet.com and has already started working with nearly 50 jewellers, with a further 70 set to join the site in the near future once they have passed accreditation processes to ensure designers are selling only original works in hallmarked metals and that they have an official qualification or at least three years’ experience working as a jewellery designer-maker.
Rather than operating like a traditional online retailer, JewelStreet will hold no stock and will have no direct dealings with shoppers. It will set up a business model that its founders have said is similar to marketplace environments such as eBay or Etsy but will specialise in jewellery only.
JewelStreet is based in Devon and has been founded by veteran goldsmith Mike Taylor, IT specialist Andy Jones, who has worked with the likes of UBM and Disney and Rob Passmore who spent 16 years in high-level marketing roles at agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi (all pictured above).
Passmore, Jones and Taylor all have children at the same school, which is how they met, and the idea for JewelStreet blossomed from this friendship. “JewelStreet was conceived by Mike Taylor, who has been a designer-maker and retailer for more than 30 years,” said Passmore. “He was trying to sell direct himself but was struggling as he couldn’t find a way to do it cost effectively on his own. I’m a veteran internet entrepreneur and it struck a chord as a concept with me, and I knew Andy who is a very heavy-hitting IT expert.”
Together the trio has pooled skills and resources and the site has now taken off. As it works as a marketplace, JewelStreet does not buy designers’ work but gives them a collective online platform to sell direct to the public and takes a 20% cut of any sale made, leaving the jeweller with a significantly higher portion of the RRP than they would get selling through traditional channels.
There have been similar models to JewelStreet in the jewellery industry, such as My Flash Trash, Boticca and the now defunct EG Studio, which has been abandoned now founder Elizabeth Galton is working for Aurum. The point of difference between those sites and JewelStreet, according to Passmore, is that they work on a curated basis whereas JewelStreet is an open marketplace to any jeweller that passes accreditation.
Passmore said: “We have seen a niche here and have gone for it. People do similar things to us, such as Etsy and Not on the High Street, but they sell everything from lampshades to printed paper to jewellery. On the other side you have Astley Clarke and Boticca. We view those as boutique websites that people are invited to have their collections on, whereas we are a marketplace. We are not trying to guide the consumer from style point of view.”
When a designer signs up to JewelStreet the company will create an online shop for them within JewelStreet that has information on the designer, pictures of products and videos. Once this has been set up it is the designers’ prerogative to update the site themselves.
JewelStreet allows customers to speak directly to retailers through the site and leaves terms of delivery to be determined by the individual piece, allowing for bespoke commissions as well as pre-made jewels. It does however insist that all purchases must be gift packaged and that standard UK delivery is offered for free.
The marketplace is about to launch an aggressive consumer marketing campaign through social networking, ad words and SEO. It will also PR the work of the designers on the site – at no extra cost to them – to present the website as a one-stop-shop for consumer journalists looking for jewellery to feature.
A key facet of the marketing campaign is to target men. Passmore said: “One of the trends which Mike has seen over the last 10 years has been that his male sales dropped to zero [previously they had accounted for about half]. Guys are fundamentally lazy and when we buy gifts we buy online. Jewellery is not as easy to buy online as shoes or perfume, so we have moved away from jewellery as a gift category. We are keen to become the Amazon of the industry, the default jewellery shop for guys looking to buy jewellery as a gift.”
As well as emerging designers on the site, such as De Anna Kiernan, there are established brands too, including Sarah Jordan and Dower & Hall. Passmore said that JewelStreet offers a viable route to market for these brands as well as designer-makers operating on a smaller scale.
“These designers might have an online shop but marketing it and getting a volume of sales through it is quite another thing,” said Passmore. “We don’t make our designers choose between having an online store and being on JewelStreet. We see it as being an addition, and more cost effective at 20% [commission on RRPs].”
This feature was taken from the November issue of Professional Jeweller.