Join us for our weekly BAJ:Insight on the latest industry trends by Rachael Taylor, a freelance journalist who writes about jewellery for a number of titles, including The Financial Times, The Jewellery Editor and Retail Jeweller. In her 10 years reporting on the industry, she has travelled the globe to visit key industry fairs, descended a Fairtrade gold mine on top of a Peruvian mountain, toured silver jewellery factories in Thailand, and regularly has access to the most sparkling jewels and people in the business.
As a student, you might think e-tail is some far-fetched issue that you may have to think about one day, long after you’ve graduated. But with technology making it easier and cheaper than ever before, setting up shop might not be as difficult as you think.
Selling jewellery online has many facets to it. There is the kind of selling that Tobias Kormind and his team at 77 Diamonds are doing – digital diamond sales that run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds (read more about it in this week’s BAJ: Digest). Then there are the virtual Etsy stalls and eBay shops, which I’m betting someone you know has already started experimenting with to get a bit of extra cash.
The opportunities for craftspeople to get involved with entry-level online platforms like these are growing all the time. ASOS Marketplace, Shopify, Jewel Street, Art Fire, Folksy and iCraft (just some of the platforms out there) all provide a space for jewellers to sell their wares with minimum investment.
Even Amazon is getting involved (is there a sector left it’s not interested in?) with a new service called Handmade at Amazon for “invited artisans to sell their unique, handcrafted goods to our hundreds of millions of customers worldwide” – it is taking applications now.
While many people will tell you to set up your own e-commerce website – and I don’t pooh-pooh this at all, in fact I think consumers see it as a given and you should have one – don’t spend too much money on it when the time comes. While the internet has been a great leveller for craftspeople, who are no longer solely at the mercy of store and gallery buyers, it is also a tough playing field. Do you have the same size marketing budget as Pandora, Links of London or Harry Winston? If not, don’t waste your cash on Google Ads, etc, as you will be competing with those big brands for exactly the same keywords (go to Google now, type in any search term you would associate with your jewellery and you’ll see exactly who you will be bidding against – and it does indeed work like an auction, with the highest bidder appearing top of the list). This is why online marketplaces are a good option; they will do all the SEO, affiliate marketing and general internet dark arts to get people to the site.
“Online marketplaces are a good option; they will do all the SEO, affiliate marketing and general internet dark arts to get people to the site.“
Of course all the DIY listings on all the marketplaces on the internet doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually make any sales, so don’t underestimate the benefits of being stocked by an established store with an engaged clientele. Speaking of which, young British jewellery talent had a bit of a digital coup this week with the announcement that La Maison Couture, the beautifully curated fine jewellery e-tail site set up by former Browns and Harrods jewellery buyer Tania McNab, has dedicated a section to the AW17 collections created by London Fashion Week’s Rock Vault jewellers. It’s well worth a browse if your spirits are in need of an uplift after that Google keyword search.