Lens Direct is projecting year-over-year sales growth of more than 40% this year.
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Delight.com also tries to attract shoppers to the site every day by offering a daily special at a discount rate. “It has made Delight an everyday bookmark,” says Keeler. Delight puts out a weekly newsletter and encourages communication among its customers through a blog and customer reviews and comments.
The company also takes advantage of social networks to market itself. Delight alerts bloggers to new products and offers on the site, has attracted more than 1,000 members to its Facebook group and says it has a growing following on Twitter. Back to top
Comparison shopping for diamonds or gold jewelry isn’t easy. And when customers are paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for an item, they don’t just want something that fits their needs. They want something they can cherish.
“Jewelry is a romantic item; it’s something you fall in love with,” says Neil Kugelman, CEO of Goldspeed.com
But it’s hard to fall in love with an image on a web site. And it’s equally hard to clearly see all the facets of a piece of jewelry from a web snapshot.
Goldspeed.com does its best to let its customers know just what they are buying by using top jewelry photographers and paying attention to detail. “We only use photographers who specialize in jewelry. They know what lighting to use and what angles to shoot from to give customers the best image,” Kugelman says.
“Their framing is also appropriate,” says Jessica Jourdan, senior research scientist for Perceptive Sciences, which specializes in user experience testing. “A lot of retailers don’t pay attention to the framing, but Goldspeed.com knows that how you frame a watch is different than how you frame a diamond.”
In-depth product descriptions are also vital. “We go into a lot of detail describing our products so that customers can shop intelligently and within budget,” Kugelman says.
Because so many customers are cost-conscious, Goldspeed knows it has to be able to justify its price, even when selling 75% below retail. “If we are offering an item for $2,000 and someone else has something similar for $1,500, we have to be able to explain what is different about our item,” Kugelman says.
And customers can’t fall in love with an item they can’t find. Goldspeed.com applies advanced navigational tools to move customers to the products they want. For instance, a sort by price feature presents men’s and women’s items in several price ranges.
“Our navigation is very fluid,” Kugelman says. “We watch how people get to our products and we apply that knowledge to our internal search and navigation systems to make sure customers find what they want with as few clicks as possible.” Back to top
Shopping for time
Timepiece lovers will find a lot to like about JTVWatches, an offshoot of Jewelry Television that the company uses to test new ideas. Those who like to shop by brand, for example, can look at one Baume & Mercier watch while others wait in a “filmstrip” above, making it easy to toggle back and forth among the possibilities.
“Our customers love that,” says James Thome, senior vice president of e-commerce for Jewelry Television. “It lets them browse an entire collection at once.”
The selection is huge: 2,000 watches from more than 100 brands, with prices ranging from $30 to more than $1,000. Visitors can sort items by features like strap type or suitability for diving. “On TV This Week” lets shoppers quickly find models they spotted on the air, and another tab lets them view any of the 10 most recent editions of “The Watch Show.” Or they can click to watch a live show if one happens to be on.
“The site was put up to cater to the aficionado,” Thome says. “We felt the mothership didn’t have the functionality or flexibility we wanted on the watch category. When you get to the product level, you see the forefront of user interface design.”
Thome is particularly proud of the site photography. “Our images are world-class,” he says. “I’d put them up against any retailer out there.”
Chicago-based retail consultant Keven Wilder compliments the site’s usability. “It’s easy to navigate, and the terrific zoom features give customers the ability to really see the watches up close from several views,” she says. “There’s also a nice synergy with the TV program. It would be nice, though, to see some lifestyle shots of watches on models, rather than having just product shots.”
JTVWatches has served its purpose as a testbed for new ideas and the watch category will be integrated into JTV.com as the main site moves to a new e-commerce platform next summer, Thome says. The retailer will incorporate many of the clever features of JTVWatches across all its product lines. Back to top
Serving a retail niche based on social consciousness is a natural challenge on the Internet, where Organic Bouquet Inc. is building on the web’s role as a merchandising and communications platform to reach fans of its organic and fair-trade products.
“The Internet enables us to develop and execute an in-depth content strategy that informs and educates our customers about social and environmental issues, and helps them understand the story behind our products,” says president Claudio Miranda. “Green businesses can engage in active and prolonged dialogue with audiences and can leverage their web site and social media to serve rich and engaging content.”
A visitor to OrganicBouquet.com is likely to be drawn in at first by the site’s attractive images that display flowers and other gifts like fruit and wine developed organically without unnatural materials like chemical pesticides.
“OrganicBouquet.com is a great gift site,” says Danielle Savin, former head of e-commerce at Frederick’s of Hollywood and now a vice president and retail specialist at online retailing consultants FitForCommerce. “The imagery is excellent, and the item content is rich and doesn’t leave the customer guessing as to what she is purchasing. And OrganicBouquet gives the customer the ability to order now and deliver later, a great feature for a gift site.”