Starting your jewelry eCommerce business requires specific knowledge, very different from what is needed for an offline jewelry business. You need to be familier with different sales channels, and have the ability to find the right representation for your online jewelry business. It’s one of the major keys to your online go-to-market strategy. So is there such a thing as the right marketplace for selling jewelry online?
The largest online marketplaces for selling jewelry in USA are eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Sears and Walmart. But does that mean that this list is closed, and every jewelry business should be present on all of these channels? Absolutely not!
In the offline jewelry retail world, selling jewelry in the local fair, a luxury brick-and-mortar store or at the mall has a different meaning for business. Similarly, each online marketplace has its own characteristics and matches different etailers (eCommerce retailers). To ensure your online success, it is critical to identify the marketplace that suits your jewelry business most.
So how can I know which marketplace is the right one for me? Make a profiling of your business. While choosing the channel(s) for selling your jewelry online, consider the following factors:
- If you are a more “mass-production” brand, or work with more classic designs – this will match a general audience and is good for the larger marketplaces, such as eBay and Amazon. Buyers on these channels know less about jewelry design and uniqueness and follow classic lines, but do care more about price and logistics.
- If you sell boutique / handmade / one-of-a-kind jewelry, smaller marketplaces are more relevant (such as Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Bonanza, Dawanda and others) as they provide a niche offering to their target audience.
- Check your products match to the target markets. Analyze best selling stores and use online tools such as Terapeak and Craftcount to know which specific market and marketplaces sells best. For example:
- US market is mainly oriented on 14k gold, while Europe clients usually buy also 18k. 9k gold demand can be mainly found in France.
- More than 60% of eBay jewelry holds treated diamonds, while Amazon doesn’t allow for clarity-enhanced (drilled, etc’) diamonds.
- Lately, Amazon and Etsy perform great with the cheaper alternatives to natural diamonds (such as moissanites) while eBay, Walmart and Sears buyers are less accustomed to these options.
- Overstock and Bonanza are more relevant for cheaper fashion jewelry since fine jewelry will hardly provide stable business on these channels.
- US buyers buy classic stone shapes ( a round cut takes up over 70% of the market) and princess cuts, so if your specialization is fancy shapes it is a better idea to check out specialized marketplaces and markets.
- Customizable and DIY jewelry are more relevant for smaller marketplaces since they probably cannot compare with more mass production items by quick logistics and massive demand.
- Design: large marketplaces ( eBay, Amazon, Sears etc) rarely provide higher prices for more exclusive items. The majority of buyers at these marketplaces are not ready to pay extra for the exclusive design. Chances are your jewelry will get lost in millions of the more simple items. Therefore, design-oriented jewelry businesses should focus on more niche channels (think Amazon Handmade, Etsy, Dawanda, CataWiki)
- Product line: Larger marketplaces require a larger product line (hundreds or thousands of SKUs). Smaller, boutique oriented marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon Handmade can perform well also with several dozens of products. The latter though is effective only in combination with an active social marketing strategy.
- Price range: Check your products’ relevancy to the marketplace from the price side. While eBay can also do well with jewelry priced above $5000, this will be less relevant for Amazon (up to $2000) or Bonanza (most of items up to $300). For Etsy, the relevant price range ends at $4000, Walmart – $3000, Sears – $4000.
- * Loose diamonds and gemstones . Not all marketplaces allow selling loose diamonds, and not all of them have enough sales potential. Rapnet, Idex and Polygon are the major trade centers for online B2B. eBay and Amazon are the most relevant choices for selling loose diamonds and gemstones in the retail market. Recently, Etsy studio started to show some good results, but the future of this channel is still not clear.
- Amazon does not allow selling clarity treated diamonds, and requires one of 4 most acknowledged gemology certificates for the stones above 0.75 points. This is an opportunity to showcase \ high quality diamonds in a relatively preserved marketplace.
- General marketplaces (eBay, Amazon, Sears) might know less about the uniqueness of your jewelry, but definitely do well in logistics, and they set very high standards. So if you’re trying to sell jewelry on eBay with a handling time thats longer than 5 days, the chances of creating a significant sales stream are close to 0.
- Buyers on more fashion focused marketplaces (Etsy, Dawanda, Amazon Handmade) usually come for a specific product. They understand that making good, custom-made jewelry takes time, and they are willing to wait. For example, Etsy buyers will be ok if you’ll send your jewelry in even 3 weeks. So, if you are strong in logistics and fulfillment, larger marketplaces will do fine. If not, niche marketplaces will do better for you .
- Clearly, it’s not easy to establish instant logistics for fine and diamond jewelry (especially for rings due to multiple size variations). But if you are in fashion jewelry – prepare yourself to work with fulfillment. If you’re in the US market – FBA, EFS or jewelry specialized ones like AIB Logistics (our favorite , they can even do resizing or some fixes to your jewelry).
- In many cases, the solution for good logistics is to have at least partial fulfillment for your jewelry catalog. Send your “fast movers” geographically closer to your target audience. You can’t send all of the ring sizes, with all center stone combinations to the fulfillment center; But having 10-20 SKUs with the most selling combinations close to your buyers makes a big difference. For example, first fulfill only 5-9 round and half sizes for rings, 14k white gold for engagement jewelry, 14k yellow gold for jewelry w/o gemstones. Slowly grow your fulfilled range with the market feedback, by adding quarter sizes, gold variations etc’.
- Utilize your advantage of being close to clients. If you are in the US, you have the privilege of selling on Sears and Walmart, which accept only US companies. This lowers the competition significantly and makes them more profitable. If you are in UK – go to Amazon.co.uk, eBay.co.uk. Readiness to buy from the local seller increases the sales conversion up to 5 times!
- Besides the regional division of global marketplaces, check the local marketplaces. They can be a promile of the global jewelry eCommerce industry but a major sales channel specifically for you. For example, if you are in India, alongside Amazon.in there is Flipcart.com, and for China – TMall, in Germany – Dawanda.de, Argentina and other South American countries – MercadoLibre, Israel – Marmelada etc.
- Languages. If you can sell your jewelry and provide service for it in more “exotic” languages besides English – utilize this ability. Chinese, Spanish, German, French, Japanese – each language opens you to new markets that are naturally protected.
- The local community can be especially effective if you have a physical presence (brick-and-mortar store, showroom, booth, appearance on local markets, even home office) – any place you can invite potential buyers to.
- Are you a one-man show, or a multi-million company with hundreds of people in staff? Larger, more general marketplaces are interesting for large businesses and jewelry brands, concentrating very large audience in one place. Therefore they get more attention from players with large budgets. This means higher competition, higher acquisition costs and most importantly – higher setup costs. For smaller businesses with lower budgets – more niche, “long tail” marketplaces are better, at least to start.
- Do you plan to sell your jewelry internationally? Already have branches in few countries? If you do, start with more global marketplaces with regional branches worldwide. Looking to stay close to home? Look for localized channels.
- Jewelry-oriented, specializing marketplaces (Etsy, DaWanda, Amazon Handmade etc’) can start with $200-$500 fees budgets monthly; larger marketplaces (eBay, Amazon, TMall, Flipcart) require investments of $1000-$3000 to develop quickly
Having said all the above , selling jewelry online is not only about marketplaces.
Social presenceGood business means returning clients. Social channels are the SuperGlue between you and your buyers. While marketplaces allow you to get your jewelry into the eCommerce world, a long term business means branded eCommerce. And social networks are one of the core parts of it.
- Get social to create awareness over your brand. If you have a story to tell – tell it not only to your buyers but to all their friends. This is less for pure e-tailing , but is a must in the long-term strategy for brands and designers.
- Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Flickr are most relevant, because they are visual networks. In addition, Google + is important because it’s indexed by Google and helps promoting your website and products in their search engine.
- Social network stores are rarely good to work in the stand-alone mode. People don’t come to Facebook to buy things. Combine such stores with the links to more known sales channels – online marketplaces, company website or clear references to the physical store.
- Your branded eCommerce website is the ultimate tool for your jewelry eCommerce business. Why? Simple: no commissions, no competitors, no 3rd party rules, perfect for branding, best control on the sales flow for your jewelry – perfect to make the sale! On the downside – your website requires large budgets, and much more work to set up.
- Once established – your jewelry website is your main asset which will become the core of your jewelry eCommerce. Simply said, first you work hard for your brand, but then it works back for you.
- Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento (from easy to most powerful) are the most common technological choices for the jewelry eCommerce website.
- For a more established business, there are specialized jewelry eCommerce solutions like Valigara. They combine the general eCommerce practices with the jewelry industry knowledge. This includes jewelry and diamonds adjusted inventory management, products search, shopping cart solutions and more; integrate with additional jewelry tools online (such as jewelry ERP systems, gemology institutes, jewelry logistics etc). These solutions provide a complete base for effective jewelry eCommerce.
- An established jewelry eCommerce is a matter of strategy and execution
- To choose the right marketplace, do the profiling of your jewelry business. This should include the products line, logistics, service offer, existing business structure and budgets.
- Multi-channel marketing lowers risks of being in the wrong place. Start with 2-3 channels and grow slowly, as you become more experienced.
- For a long-term eCommerce, combine 1) the marketplaces’ for a quick start, 2) social marketing for keeping in touch, and 3) branded eCommerce for the long term business growth.