March 25, 2014, 12:23 PM

Web sales skyrocket for Alex and Ani in 2013

The rapidly growing jewelry manufacturer’s online sales shot up more than 200% in 2013. And they are on track to double in 2014.

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Costume jewelry maker Alex and Ani LLC’s online sales are blowing up, and its social media marketing efforts are contributing to that growth.

The Rhode Island-based manufacturer and retailer, which leapt 280 spots on Internet Retailer’s Second 500 Guide rankings between 2012 and 2013 based on previous-year web sales, generated $36.8 million in sales on the web in 2013—versus $12.0 million in 2012, says Ryan Bonifacino, Alex and Ani vice president of strategy. And the company is on track to hit about $70 million this year, he says.

The web—the company’s fastest-growing sales channel—accounted for 16% of Alex and Ani’s overall 2013 sales. More than half, 56% or approximately $128.9 million, of the company’s 2013 sales came from its B2B wholesale group, comprised of about 1,500 resellers.  Retail stores—Alex and Ani has more than 40 stand-alone shops and more than 160 “shops within a shop” of other retailers in the United States—generated $62 million in sales last year, Bonifacino says. Sales from international stores make up the remainder.

Alex and Ani’s social media marketing efforts have helped drive some the company’s web sales growth. The retailer, which ranks No. 83 in Internet Retailer’s 2014 Social 500, says $1.31 million in 2013 sales can be attributed in some way to consumers interacting with the brand on, or as a result of, social media. Bonifacino says it uses a mix of data from marketing and analytics vendor Curalate and from Google Inc., through Google Analytics, to track how interactions on social media translate into sales on AlexandAni.com. It also employs Adobe Systems Inc.’s Omniture service for site analytics.

Curalate data, for example, tracks interactions consumers have with Alex and Ani images through social media sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram. If a consumer “pins” a photo of an Alex and Ani cocktail ring to her Pinterest board, and that pin is repinned by 100 other users, Alex and Ani can track the spread of that image—even if the image gets copied and pasted away from the social network –and any sales that happen as a result. “We can see the ripple effect,” Bonifacino says.  “Once it goes a step or two beyond the network, you lose the link. With Curalate we are looking at the relationship between Pinterest and the tool that allows them to count and track the actual image." If someone copies an image from Pinterest and uses it elsewhere, Curalate can see if it matches and credit it back to the store, he says.

This lets Alex and Ani attribute web sales and web marketing investments more appropriately. “If consumers discover us on Pinterest or Instagram, we can see they are having a handful of experiences with us,” Bonifacino says. Calculating how views of an image or product ultimately lead to sales is called a view-through analysis.

That kind of analysis can help a retailer accurately assess the ROI of social media efforts. About 7.5% of traffic to AlexandAni.com comes directly from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube, according to the Social Media 500.

He says many small retailers only consider “how much staff it takes to take photos and share, and they’ll not see how it is making money because they are only looking at last clicks. But we have the ability to match back the revenue as it relates to the view-through conversion as opposed to the click-through conversion.”

Having that depth of detail to inform marketing investments is helping to spur Alex and Ani’s sales growth.

Based on its 2012 sales, Alex and Ani is No. 629 in Internet Retailer’s Second 500 Guide.

For more on how Second 500 e-retailers use analytics, look to the April issue of Internet Retailer magazine, out April 1, or subscribe.

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