January 9, 2017, 8:39 PM

A luxury jeweler’s app is a key part of its e-commerce strategy

Govberg Jewelers, which specializes in pre-owned luxury watches, uses its app to inform consumers about the value of their watches.

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Selling luxury goods online can be difficult, says Danny Govberg, owner and president of Govberg Jewelers.

And when the CEO talks about luxury, he means goods that cost $3,000 or more. Govberg Jewelers sells used luxury wristwatches and buys used watches from consumers to resell them. Between online, telephone call-in orders and store purchases, the average order value is $9,000 for the retailer. “People are just scared to hit that $9,000 button without talking to us,” Govberg says.

That high price tag is why Govberg isn’t disappointed that e-commerce sales are less than 10%, or about $10 million, of his total annual business. Research on the internet plays a valuable role at Govberg Watches (90% of all sales involved some type of research on its website), and if the purchase isn’t completed online, that’s OK, he says.

Consumers use GovbergWatches.com to learn more about the high-end products, which is why consumer education is a large part of the retailer’s e-commerce strategy. For example, the retailer published roughly 2,500 informational videos on its site last year. Most recently, the retailer launched an app, called Govberg OnTime, to help educate consumers about the worth of their wristwatches.

“The goal behind the app is to engage the customer so we could educate them about the product and become transparent about the price of premium watches,” Govberg says.

The app allows a consumer to see how much his watch is worth and store a digital collection of the watches he has bought—two features that are not yet available on GovbergWatches.com.

For the value tool in the app, the merchant has created a formula to display the amount a particular used watch is currently worth. It calculates the value based on what that watch is trading and selling for internationally across e-commerce sites, auction house data, online marketplace eBay Inc. prices and wristwatch forums. The formula continually updates the price as the value of the watch changes. A consumer can track the value of his watch in the app with a graph feature, much like a trader would watch the value of stock. Most consumers don’t know the value of their used wristwatches, so this is a valuable tool, Govberg says.

Then, if a consumer wants to sell his watch to Govberg Jewelry, he can know if he is getting a fair price, Govberg says. For example, the app may show that the market price for the watch is $6,200. If the consumer wants to sell it to the retailer, Govbderg will probably buy it for about $5,000. “We do have to make money,” Govberg says. “Being transparent will bring us more customers.”

Because the retailer knows that most consumers don’t buy a watch directly off its website, many of Govberg Watch’s digital search ads and site messaging encourage consumers to call the retailer. “Once someone calls us, it’s not a hard process to get experts immediately that know watches,” Govberg says. “When people see the expertise that we have, people are much more comfortable to do business with us.”

In fact, 50-60% of the retailer’s sales are repeat purchases. Even repeat customers, however, usually call to talk to an expert about the watch when the dollar amount is high enough, say $30,000, Govberg says.

However, consumers can shop buy in the app, and about 2,000 have done so since the app’s launch about a year ago. The app also drives many phone calls to the retailer, Govberg says. Many consumers will call in and say the saw a watch in the app, or the submit questions in the app and request a phone call, he says. 

For consumers who input all of their watches into the app using the digital collections box feature, the app will display the current value of the collection. Watch collectors who have taken the time to store their collection in the app are the most active app users, often checking in daily, Govberg says.

In total, the app—only available on iPhones—has about 140,000 downloads. Of that, about 70,000 consumers receive push notifications.

It took about two years for the retailer to build the app, which was longer than Govberg expected. Gathering data points for the price formula took long time to program, as did getting the search functionally to work properly, he says. Because the retailer wanted the search function to be just right, the app allows a consumer to type in a watch model number with hyphens, dashes or just straight numbers and the search results will return the exact match. Govberg spent more than $1 million on the app, he says.

The retailer plans to launch an Android version of the app by February. 

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