Maybe you’ve been making your own jewelry for some time, and after years of people telling you that you should sell your creations on the internet for fun and profit, you’re ready to take the plunge.
Internet retailing is more accessible than ever before, but that doesn’t necessarily make the process of getting started with an online jewelry store any less overwhelming. On the other hand, it’s probably a lot easier to do than you think. Read on for our tips on what to look for when launching your new business.
The consultants at Bain & Company estimate that the global jewelry retail industry pulls in $15 billion per year. Data from financial services firm Morgan Stanley indicates that 36% of all jewelry sales are made online, so there’s a sizeable industry to tap into.
When it comes to the many types of eCommerce products out there, jewelry requires less workshop and inventory space, and shipping rates are comparatively inexpensive.
And with jewelry, the possibilities for continuously adding to your product line are virtually endless. There’s jewelry specifically designed to decorate nearly every part of the body. There are scores of precious metals and gemstones used in this craft – add to that unconventional materials like plush fabrics, wooden beads and synthetic feathers, and you should have generations’ worth of creative inspiration to go on. And that’s before we get into the design variation possibilities!
In the heady days of the early internet retail boom, a do-it-yourself craftsperson could gain a customer base and make a living simply by posting products on Ebay. As a sales platform, though, Ebay quickly outgrew its potential usefulness to rookie merchants – today it’s so saturated with business sharks that true independent artists are unlikely to sell very much on Ebay unless they undertake some major and potentially costly marketing efforts.
In 2005, Etsy launched to provide an eCommerce platform for niche craftspeople, but now that site too has become challengingly competitive. Etsy projects that they’ll have a million sellers on board by the end of 2013. As a result, many independent jewelry makers have moved on to newer marketplaces like Luulla and Artfire, but these sites have their own problems for sellers, and one never knows what will happen to them in the future. Smarter merchants make their own jewelry websites.
When you sell your jewelry on your own site, you remain the sole brand marketed there, and you retain full control over design and user experience. Even more importantly, any marketing efforts you put into promoting your own site (more on these below) will benefit your platform and no one else’s. There’s no place like home.
There are loads of eCommerce platforms out there that you can use to build your own online jewelry store. (We’re a bit biased, but we think our own solution is particularly awesome.) Regardless of what you use, though, make sure it’s got the basics covered.
Your new online jewelry store is going to be so much more than just a retail engine, though. As a product, jewelry is all about beauty, elegant decoration and luxurious lifestyle, and this should be reflected in the website’s design. You want prospective customers to load your homepage and feel like they’ve entered a world of beauty.
Make sure that when you design your site, you use a template that’s optimized for showcasing jewelry.
Your product photos should be professional quality, with a consistent style throughout the site. It’s a good idea to keep photo backgrounds simple and flat, so that the jewelry pieces themselves pop out at your site’s visitors. Use product galleries to show pieces from different angles and in different contexts – showing models wearing jewelry can help convey a sense of scale.
When it comes to online shopping, it’s crucial to publish product specifications and store terms clearly and prominently. Return and shipping policies should be spelled out in black and white, with links pointing eyes to them on all pages. Remind the user everywhere you can that you’re available for customer support questions, listing hours and ways to get in touch. And make sure to list product details, materials, weights and measurements right on the product pages, so that visitors can shop with confidence that they know what they’re getting.
Two optional customer experience elements to consider are support chat and product customization selections. When people shop for jewelry, they like to feel like they’re getting something personalized and one-of-a-kind, and they may enjoy the “guided shopping” experience that you can offer as a store proprietor using onsite chat tools.
As with all small business upstarts, new online jewelry stores face uphill battles when it comes to crowded competition. The solution is to distinguish yourself from everyone else by emphasizing what you do that no one else does. This is true for the site’s product line, page design, text content – everything. Find your brand’s distinctive flavor, and make sure it can be felt strongly.
When it comes to optimizing your site for the search engines, you’re unlikely to outrank multinational companies that have been investing millions of dollars in appearing at the top of all the major jewelry-related Google searches for decades. So you might never come near page one for “silver necklace,” but you could have a decent chance to rank nicely for lengthier, more specific niche keywords like “hand carved teakwood earrings from Toledo,” for example. Keep this approach, known as “long tail keywords,” in mind when preparing your content.
Your customers will want to come back for more if you constantly add products and promoting them with new, large photos on your homepage. When it comes to fashion accessories, fads come and go, so keeping your site fresh is important.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to use Wix’s eCommerce solution for your jewelry site, check out our Learning Center resources on the topic here.
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