NB Diamonds director Nathaniel Bendayan asks what the e-commerce boom will mean for the jewellery industry, to which the in-store sale and experience is so important.
We can say the shift to online jewellery retail has been in the pipeline for years if not decades.
One by one we have seen all sectors of retail move away from investing in the high street to develop their online listings and outreach.
But nothing has created the forceful shift towards the move more so than the pandemic.
We have seen three national lockdowns within the last year, leaving trade suspended, or at least in the face-to-face medium as we know it.
But what does this mean for the jewellery sector?
As suppliers to the market we know the diamond jewellery trade is so much more than commercial sales.
Diamonds are an investment, a commodity and a little taste of tangible exquisite luxury. To the consumer, jewellery is not fast fashion. It is a glimpse into a fantasy.
The want and desire, the sales experience, the prestige of the transaction: these are all part and parcel of buying premium luxury goods.
It’s not just about owning the item but about the way the customer is feeling in the moment of purchasing.
It’s hard to imagine that an online transaction at the click of a button can be comparable.
We have seen lots of keen retailers, keeping their grip on their strong holding in the jewellery market by taking a plunge into the deep end.
Curating new or expanding old websites trying to offer the consumer the same experience online as they would do in store.
Bespoke designing, personalised virtual concierge services, delivery or click and collect, to name but a few of the ideas that are being pushed across the board.
And for many they have not only stayed afloat over the last 12 months but have seen increases in sales.
The new medium has meant they are not dependent on local footfall or loyal customers but an endless pool of buyers.
Much like the retail jewellery sector, at NB diamonds we have seen the benefits of expanding on our online platform by building up our website.
We have utilised the quieter times to develop our online social media presence and website as a means of reaching out to our existing and new clients, whilst we have all been prioritising our health and well-being.
We have added new features to our website to enable easy processes for our clients to request quotations for bespoke pieces, quotations for valuations and buy-back purchases, as well as easy viewing of many of our ranges and new upcoming unique pieces.
Although many industries have boomed with the surge of online retailing, when it comes to the high-end market of all sectors, diamond jewellery included, we have to ask our selves: is something different here? Is online striving because shops are closed or is this a trend that is here to stay ?
I have taken a look back at the curves in sales, speaking to many of our clients at NB diamonds.
It’s clear that as shops open after each lockdown, first in the spring of 2020 and then again in the pre Christmas period, the deprivation of the personal shopping experience only generated a greater lusting for it.
As the saying goes, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. The pick-up in trade within stores has shown that really nothing can beat the moment you are shown a sensational, sparkling diamond piece.
Many who have missed the opportunity for grand events for birthdays, weddings and celebrations in the last year have marked the occasion with a gift that lasts a lifetime and beyond.
The care for loved ones and the desire to show it with a valued gift that holds its longevity has elevated diamond jewellery to reach the hearts of many.
We have even seen sales of coloured sapphires going into the creation of bespoke “rainbow” designs to mark the year.
Perhaps the year of the pandemic has ceased what we call ‘the personal touch’, replacing it with a masked, gloved and sanitised experience. But even whilst socially distanced, humans are social creatures.
But having said that, an online platform today is not confined to a website. And this change is where we have seen a seismic shift that is unquestionable.
Advertising does not just mean billboards or magazines. We are living in generation social media. The likes of Instagram have created a stage to showcase jewellery designs to generate exposure nationally and globally at ease.
This is not about direct sales but about exhibiting. The display and sensationalism of your brand. Creating your own marketing campaign.
At NB diamonds we too have utilised this to enable us to showcase our catalogue of designs so people can see more of what we do.
Although restrictions mean we cannot take trips to many of our treasured clients stores we have turned to social media to increase exposure of our creations.
What does all this mean for the coming seasons?
As we have noted from previous lockdowns, we predict the end of the current restrictions will coincide with a boom in retail footfall, particularly in the diamond jewellery sector.
At NB diamonds we have been helping our clients to ensure they have adequate stock prepared at reasonable and cost effective prices.
The last year has seen market changes resulting from the pandemic and Brexit effecting the supply chains.
It is imperative for our clients that they make the most of the current offers and make the correct purchases in the next months to ensure they are able to catch those clients who will be out there in the subsequent months eager for the retail shopping experience.
On that note we would like to wish the best to all our clients and all the retail sector who have worked tooth and nail to ride the storm and hope they strive in the year ahead.