Selling jewelry online is not only about the technology of online sales. It includes the whole spectrum of business ingredients. Three main parameters of a product’s preparation for e-commerce are:
- Customer service – being able to maintain the correct sales and service operation
- Technology – knowing how to sell jewelry online
- Logistics – handling the physical transport of your jewelry between you and your client
These ingredients create the foundation for online sales. To sell your beautiful jewelry online, you have to address all these. Let’s talk logistics.
Logistics and jewelry eCommerce
Let us go back to the economic theories for a second. An important concept in the theory of consumption is home bias. If I have the same product placed near my home, or the same product is somewhere far, I prefer to buy close to my home. Why does it happen? It’s simple. I feel safer with the product placed close to me.
Ideally, I would like to get my hands on it and check it with my eyes, and all my senses. With eCommerce, we don’t have this privilege. Our client has to buy the product without actually seeing it and feeling it, and this uncertainty becomes more critical and influences our online sales strongly.
Emotional aspects of consumption
An additional reason for the importance of logistics, especially in jewelry, is that the purchase is emotional. This means that once decided to buy a piece of jewelry, I want to have it immediately. This means, the faster our potential buyer gets a chance to receive the jewelry, the higher the chances they will purchase it. Logistics influences the success of your eCommerce business drastically. Your product and logistics are equally important.
For example, in the wedding and engagement jewelry, if the guy wants to propose to his girlfriend, he might need the item by tomorrow.
We see amazing cases, when only by improving the logistics, online sales go up hundreds of percent, without changing anything in the product and technology, and giving the same customer service. Very simple – it adds trust to the equation.
Improving the handling time
What are the actual To-Dos when we create the plan to improve logistics?
As said previously, the first idea is to ship your jewelry quickly. Fast handling is crucial. Firstly, our buyers want to get the product by tomorrow. Second, marketplaces need measurable performance indicators of your business, and handling time is one of them. It is very easy for any marketplace to count the number of days that took you to ship your jewelry. Whether you ship the item in three days or two weeks, it’ll make a huge difference.
Clearly, if you have 3,000 different items in your store, it is impossible to have all stock ready for shipment, especially in the case of fine jewelry where the prices can reach $5,000 or even $10,000. Even in fashion jewelry, with relatively low-ticket items, it is very hard to keep 3,000 different SKUs ready for shipment. Additionally, a high percentage of jewelry orders are customized, and the item is created after the order was made.
How can this issue be resolved? Lower the handling time, gradually. Identify the bestsellers of your jewelry, and do it as soon as possible. If you have specific 10 items that sell once a day / a week / a month – this is something that can be counted and estimated. Make those items ready in stock, covering the next 2 months, or according to your lead time, while remembering seasonality and growth.
Many additional benefits come up with having these items. The cost of production goes down, and your offering becomes better. If you are a jewelry e-tailer and don’t produce yourself, you get better prices from your sources. Make sure that best-selling items logistics is perfect, and that these items will be shipped flawlessly.
Be a jeweler, not a post officer
Pick-up. Another important aspect we often come by, especially for jewelry designers who create their jewelry at home: Almost every country has a service to pick up items from your location. Use it – you are not a post office, you are a jeweler. You should be doing more jewelry and fewer logistics. It is possible to save a lot of time and shorten the handling time simply by using the pick-up service by your post carrier. It might add a small cost to your post expenses, but it will free up valuable time for you to keep doing your job.
What is a fulfillment service? If I want to put my items near my clients, and I know where my target audience is placed geographically, I don’t have to create my own logistics company. There are many fulfillment centers today in the world like FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon), EFS, and AIB which are used in the e-commerce businesses for one simple thing. You can store items somewhere close to the client, and for a small fee ($4-$6 for delivery) they will be picked up, wrapped up, and sent to the client without your involvement. Why is this important?
- First, you are a jeweler. You should be working on your jewelry and not driving to the post office and back.
- Second, the goal is to provide the best customer service and experience. With the right technology, by integrating your sales channels with the fulfillment center, the moment you receive the ready order (on eBay, Etsy, Amazon, your website, or any other), your inventory system updates the fulfillment center (FBA for example) and in 24 hours your jewelry is sent to the client. Putting items in fulfillment centers allows you to provide 24-hour delivery, next-day delivery, and additional services to your client, which you won’t be able to offer yourself.
- It saves a lot of manpower. When you find yourself with 100 and sometimes 1,000 items being sent each month, you need a team of at least five people to deal with it.
- Handling holiday peaks. On Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s, or some local holiday, your sales peak. Sometimes up hundreds of percent. You have two options – either bring additional people into your office (meaning- hiring, training, firing, etc) or work with the fulfillment centers that have endless manpower capacity to handle your items.
Does all this matter? Yes, it can lead to a growth of dozens, and sometimes hundreds of percent, in sales. According to multiple studies, logistics is one of the two main parameters in eCommerce. Simple as that.
We advise our clients to estimate the orders for the next three months of operation and put the equal amount in the fulfillment center. If it is not possible, start with setting the available budget and calculate – see what stock you can put in fulfillment centers at this moment. The budget will quickly pay itself back.
Check out Valigara’s Logistics and Fulfillment module
Selecting the jewelry for fulfillment
The first type of jewelry to send into fulfillment is quick-sellers. These are items that are sold quickly, and that you can make a good estimate of for the next three months’ delivery and sending, and can be produced/sourced without limitation. The main goal of quick-sellers is to get your main items (not necessarily quick-sellers) to rank higher in the search result of the marketplace.
With unique items, I won’t enjoy the positive effect of fulfillment as much as with repeatable items. Why?
To understand this better, let’s go back to the marketplace technology for a moment. To help our online jewelry store grow we need to receive a better ranking in the marketplace. There are two ways to achieve this. The first is per item and the second is per store.
- First, if there is an item that was sold many times, this item will appear higher in search results.
- Second, when eBay, Amazon, or Etsy evaluate items from 2 stores – one with 10 successful sales and the other with 1000 sales – the marketplace prefers the item from the more experienced store. So, with multiple orders, quick-sellers will take up all the results in the store.
How does it happen that on every marketplace, some items get “stuck” on the first lines of the search results? The answer is simple. If I have an item that was sold 20 times (or maybe 500 times), it creates a history of successful deals on this product. This sends a positive signal to the ranking engine.
To boost my store performance, I select items that can create this history. This history cannot be created within a unique item, or even with multiple quantity jewelry which I will not be able to continuously re-order.
In contrast, if I have an item always available to reproduce or re-source, and restock my fulfillment center, these are the best items. They can reach this desired history of 5, 50, and even 100s of sales.
The items that are sent to the fulfillment center should require less customization. That’s why we don’t suggest sending rings to fulfillment centers, for example. If I have to send 10 different sizes to the fulfillment center (or even more with 1/4 sizes), I will require a huge budget to create a significant stock of each variation of the ring. White gold, yellow gold, and red gold, multiplied by 10 different sizes, for example, is already 30 variations of the ring that you have to physically manufacture in multiple quantities, and send.
The budget for this operation will be much higher compared to one of the earrings or a bracelet, or a necklace. For these types of jewelry, the only variation will be red/yellow/white gold, or maybe a gemstone.
From our experience, an additional reason for not sending rings to fulfillment centers is that the chance of receiving 100% positive feedback from buyers in rings is a bit lower. Simply because people sometimes do not know their ring size, there is a chance that the item will be returned.
Make sure that the item you are selling has some variations to increase the chance of selling it. On the other hand, there shouldn’t be too many variations of the item and preferably not rings.
Start gradually. Start with only a few SKUs and learn to work with the selected fulfillment service provider. Check their communication and service, the sending requirements, precision in fulfillment. Send at least 5-10 shipments to the center and work with them for a few months. Learn which jewelry reacts better to the change. If it goes well and brings results – gradually increase the inventory. With time, analyze your market and use more than one inventory, according to the audience you want to strengthen.
The ability to handle returns can’t be underestimated. Jewelry is a wearable, emotional, non-catalog product. Therefore, even if your jewelry is perfect, returns are normal in the jewelry eCommerce.
Clear return policies play a very important role in your sales. Because it increases your jewelry store’s trustworthiness. The potential buyer, who cannot touch the ring or the necklace, and yet has to decide about purchasing, wants to be sure that even if it didn’t work out well, he will have the ability to return the item.
If you are sure that everything goes well with your products, simply increasing the return period (f.i. from 30 days to 60 days) does wonder to your online store performance.
Selling jewelry internationally? The bad news is that buyers don’t like to return their items overseas. They just don’t know how to do it. Therefore, using the fulfillment center for localized returns service is an additional step to a better customer experience, which means higher sales for your jewelry.
Jewelry Logistics Best Practices
- In jewelry eCommerce, you have a very important partner – is your shipping carrier. He will do all the sending, so make sure you choose the right one. It’s amazing how logistics can improve sales by reducing the cost of sending jewelry. For example, from $60 to $30. These are very important numbers. Saving $30 on a $500 purchase can significantly change your price proposition to the client. Stay proactively in contact with your carrier. Bargain to get better prices.
- Do not get stuck with your provider. At least once a year research and choose the best logistics operator for your business. There is no shame in switching carriers from time to time. Work with more than one carrier, and optimize what they offer to your jewelry. It can save you and your buyers a lot of money, or you can provide more than one option. In addition to standard economy shipping, you can offer quick shipping with next-day delivery by FedEx, or other providers.
- Consolidation is another effective technique, especially useful in international jewelry sales. This means you get a local partner placed close to your target audience, who will receive a consolidated shipment of 5/10/100 items together, and then re-distribute it from the local address. This technique can save you big costs on shipment.
In addition, the virtual location for your jewelry changes from abroad to local (remember the home bias?), and your buyers will consider the purchase as safer. This approach can be used both in delivery to the clients and back for the returns, making your logistics more effective.
- Automate your logistics and fulfillment processes. While logistics is critical and stays in your business focus forever, it quickly becomes a well-defined structured process. This means you can apply technology for managing your logistics operation, save time and costs, and avoid mistakes.
Respect the rules
And the last two things to remember:
- Play by the rules. Check the legal aspects. Make sure that you send your items legally because you are building a long-term business and do not want to waste time explaining to local authorities why your item was sold to a country that you are not allowed to sell jewelry to. Or why when your client has returned the item, it was considered by the authorities an illegal import of the jewelry.
To avoid these situations, make sure that you are playing by the rules. Post carriers such as FedEx and DHL often become a good source of information for such questions. Simply visit them and ask questions – nothing beats years of experience.
- Use good insurance. A good bargain can make insurance very affordable, especially by lowering the minimum payment to the insurance company. If you can lower it from $50 to $20, in fine jewelry or diamond jewelry, it saves you $30 on each delivery. Of course, switching to the monthly calculated fee (f.i. 0.3% of the delivery or even 0.1% if you are strong enough) will also significantly improve the offering to buyers.
Check out Valigara’s Logistics and Fulfillment module
When selling jewelry online, it’s important to understand what exactly you offer to your buyers. This includes not only the product but the whole experience. Always keep in mind the 3 ingredients of a successful jewelry business, with logistics being one of them. Get local, get quick, use fulfillment centers, and learn the legal part. These will be a real game-changer.