BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 11: In this photo illustration a woman uses a credit card to buy something online on August 11, 2014 in Bristol, United Kingdom. This week marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale. Since that sale - a copy of an album by the artist Sting - online retailing has grown to such an extent that it is now claimed that 95 percent of the UK population has shopped online and close to one in four deciding to shop online each week. (Photo illustration by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Data science specialist Conjura offers an analytics-based solution to help businesses reach their full potential.

The recent e-commerce boom across retail, and the traditionally personal experience of making luxury purchases in person, makes its services more important than ever for the jewellery industry, writes Fran Quilty, CEO.

The massive growth in e-commerce over the past 12 months has affected jewellery sales at all price points. Signet Jewellers, the owners of H Samuel and Ernest Jones, recently reported a 2020 e-commerce boom of £860 million, growing by 70.5% year-on-year to now account for around a quarter of its total sales.

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And it’s not alone: Thomas Sabo, Swarovski and Taylor & Hart, to name but a few, have invested heavily in their online stores.

Jewellery brands at every level are moving towards e-commerce solutions to match the changes wrought both by Covid and by shifts in longer-term market dynamics. Even high-end purchases like diamond rings were already moving online before the pandemic hit. Millennials favour less human interaction when they shop and are happy to forego the in-store consultation and glass of champagne.

In light of a fast-evolving landscape, jewellers are limiting growth potential if they view e-commerce as an add-on rather than as a complementary channel. However, to extract most value from their digital infrastructure they must strive to get a deeper understanding of their most precious commodity: not their gems, their customer data.

Are you capturing the right data?

It can be hard to know where to start, so the first step is to decide what data you actually need in relation to a specified outcome. This often starts with marketing spend, aiming to understand what channels and what campaigns are really delivering most value. For instance, while a Facebook ad may bring more people to your website than the Google equivalent, those customers may engage less over time.

From here, learn what motivates those customers that do click through. How often do they buy from you, for whom, and for what occasions? Once you know what audiences want and what channels perform best from an acquisition perspective, the next step could be to identify which customer segments offer the greatest potential lifetime value.

The more specific and the more granular the objective, the better. When working backwards from a particular business target or challenge, you need to consider what metrics will offer actionable insights.

It all adds up to a market that doesn’t stand still.”

Perhaps if you want to encourage repeat purchases and build ongoing relationships, it’s a question of analysing what jewellery people are already buying and offering them complementary options: new charms for their charm bracelet, or layering necklaces so as to build on an existing look.

Brands like Pandora and Missoma are developing e-commerce solutions that play into this trend. A full collection of matching items might be unaffordable, so instead you can encourage customers to buy one or two now and the rest later.

Are you thinking omnichannel?

Jewellers can use their digital presence to present themselves as a helpful expert and provide the information customers need to narrow down the choices. This means making the most of each of the channels they own by maximising the specific benefits of each for personalised experiences across the sales funnel: from ads that build awareness, to providing education for shoppers doing research online, to promoting one-to-one consultations.

Although e-commerce is growing fast, many customers still want to close the deal in-store for big-ticket items. After all, this remains a tactile sector and many people need to see and feel the products on display. While your experts remain your greatest asset in converting consideration to a sales conversion, they should be able to do so armed with data that will help them do so.

Is your data set up for long-term growth?

E-commerce data can help jewellers distinguish and manage their growth strategies – new product lines, new markets and new business models. For example, some brands such as Say It With Diamonds are now offering subscription boxes on the basis of the opportunity they have identified.

While customer acquisition strategies are the primary growth driver, it’s also important to set aside regular time – at least weekly, but preferably daily – to review the behaviours of existing audiences, particularly the high-value returning customers you should identify and nurture.

Daily reporting and refreshing of key e-commerce data will, for example, tell you when a consumer exhibits a new set of behaviours that moves them into a different segment, meaning you need to communicate and engage with them differently.

Hence the value of good data management, it will allow you to be far more responsive to opportunities as they present themselves and to respond to competitor activity. It means that marketing budgets can be reallocated daily if the data is telling you that a higher value customer can be secured via a different channel, thus driving profitability. It will also mean that you’re not wasting your online marketing spend driving customers to buy items of jewellery that are out of stock.

It all adds up to a market that doesn’t stand still. In an increasingly digital-first landscape, the difference between success or failure lies in understanding what data is relevant for your business and developing your sales and growth strategies around this.

The latter cannot be put down to market uncertainties or a lack of vision, as data-driven strategies negate both. Rather, failure will come down either to a lack of data, or a lack of analytics skills to understand and act upon what it tells you.