Digital marketplace JewelStreet is shifting gears and adapting to become a world-class luxury online boutique. With patented fulfilment solutions and a complete makeover in the works, Sarah Louise Jordan speaks to chief executive officer and co-founder Rob Passmore to get the details.
JewelStreet has never been afraid of taking big steps, and its transformation into a leading luxury e-tailer this year presents no exception to the rule. Founded in 2012 by Rob Passmore, Mike Taylor and Andy Jones, Devon-based JewelStreet initially presented itself as a dedicated marketplace for jewellery, offering individual designer-makers and brands their own digital boutiques to trade from.
After initial success, the company secured investment through crowd funding platforms and UK Trade & Investment to forge ahead with its goals. However, recent months have seen the company’s motivations change, with plans set in motion to rebrand JewelStreet as a platform for high-end and luxury jewellery brands looking to sell their wares safely and securely across the globe.
Sadly, this reimagining of JewelStreet’s place in the digital landscape led to the company breaking ties with around 120 designers – roughly 45% of its brands – that offer lower pricepointed items. Later, at Couture Las Vegas, Passmore and the team signed up around 85 new brands, including Carla Amorim, Matthew Campbell Laurenza, Kara Ross and Jorge Adeler, in-line with the high-end shake-up.
As one would expect, JewelStreet will have a complete visual makeover in September, but what’s more interesting is the revamp that’s taking place behind the scenes, in areas such as logistics, quality assurance and ecommerce.
Chief executive officer Rob Passmore says: “The new JewelStreet believes in global curation and bringing the finest, most coveted jewellery from around the world to customers around the world.”
He continues: “The second thing we believe in is jewellery with provenance and a back-story that’s authentic and real. We are looking for proximity, which is a feeling that the customer can get very close to the designer and have a direct dialogue with them. We use first names when talking about our designers, so it is all about a feeling of connectivity, proximity and access.”
The third check-point in Jewel- Street’s agenda is safety and security and this is where things get really interesting. “We want it to feel like an order is coming from up the street rather than from across the world, so we’ve got the infrastructure, data privacy and crawl protection covered.”
Lots of these factors are covered under ‘JewelStreet Global Secure’ — a piece of trademarked, propriety technology that brings together all of the components necessary for targeted digital shopping and safe delivery of very high value jewellery items. This includes a global deal with courier service DHL to ensure that pieces can be picked up from designers’ studios and delivered to locations around the world, with liability insurance and a 40-day free return policy included.
The Global Secure package also include all the necessary hallmarking processes (courtesy of Edinburgh Assay Office’s Hallmarking in Transit), duty calculations and country specific pricing with over 100 currency options. Interestingly, brands can choose which countries their products are visible in, meaning results will be automatically filtered depending upon the physical locations of browsing customers.
Passmore adds: “We have worked hard to put all of the trust factors in place to build customer confidence, and to ensure that designers know they can ship their goods and get paid. If designers don’t have an online presence or sell overseas, they can sell from their Jewel- Street boutiques because the fulfilment solution is so safe.”
As well as receiving 73% of the retail price of their items, designer brands have almost complete control over their e-boutiques meaning prices and product descriptions can be updated without an inconvenient middle man. This isn’t to say that JewelStreet doesn’t have strict conditions in place, however. Passmore explains: “All photography is done by the brand, but we are bringing in very strict photographic guidelines as part of our curation. A lot of the designers we are continuing to work with have been working hard over the last few months to get their photography, data and product specification information up to standard.”
To support this, JewelStreet now has a full-time, in-house quality assurance specialist who will be responsible for weeding out examples of lacklustre descriptions and photography.
Elsewhere the revamped website will be subtly split into two ‘departments’, taking into account brand affinities and price points. In practice, this means customers can search jewellery by ‘designer brands’ or ‘fine jewellery brands’ with price points in the region of £250 to £2,500 and £2,500 up to £5 million respectively. Passmore admits there is a sense of nervousness about tackling this luxury facet of ecommerce, but he remains convinced that JewelStreet is ready to hit the ground running.
He says: “The new site looks a million dollars. It is fully responsive, more luxurious and designed to showcase each piece like it is in an art gallery.”
JewelStreet’s focus will be on North America, Canada, the Middle East, Asia and South America in the coming month, with Europe playing an important but measured part in the company’s overall strategy. The website will avoid taking on the challenge of multi-lingual commerce for now — a sensible strategy considering brands manage their own boutiques and may not have the resources for hundreds of language conversions.
Passmore concludes: “From my perspective, the key drivers for the changes we are making are the massive shift of luxury spend moving online combined with a growing appetite for global produce with provenance. Combine this with our Global Secure payment and delivery system and there is a huge opportunity to establish an international, curated fine jewellery destination that discovers the very best jewellery from around the world.”
This feature originally appeared in the September issue of Professional Jeweller. Read it here.