Just the thought of adding an ecommerce channel can be a daunting task for some independent jewelry stores. But a seismic shift in consumer habits no longer make ecommerce a luxury option for jewelers, it makes it a necessity.
I can go through all the frightening numbers that you don’t want to hear: Like 87% of shoppers begin product searches on digital channels (Salesforce and Publicis.Sapient), 67% of millennials prefer to shop online rather than in the store (BigCommerce), or that eMarketer expects 2018 holiday ecommerce sales to jump 16.2% to $123.4 billion.
But as downright scary as those numbers can be to a Main Street merchant, they should also not be ignored.
I had coffee last month with a trusted friend who works for Google. He asked me how shop owners in Woodbury, Connecticut were receiving the opportunity to advertise in my online community newspaper.
I told him anecdote I’ve been told by several retailers: They tell me they don’t have money to advertise online, but they continue to advertise – for a lot more money – in the regional print newspaper.
My friend from Google told me he’s not surprised. His salespeople in our corner of the state received the same pushback. And he added that this reluctance is only natural for many businesses.
It all has to do with comfort, and it included all things digital. Online advertising – and ecommerce – is a great unknown, but it’s also something independent retailers know they need to embrace.
You see the UPS, FedEx, and USPS delivering more packages than usual to your neighbor’s doors – and even your own. You know that you need to adapt to the digital world that you’re living in, and you know that you need to do it now. The days of “well, maybe next year” are gone. As an independent jewelry store owner, you need to go with your gut and start your ecommerce plan.
Here are just a few reasons you need to add ecommerce to your Main Street shop:
Ecommerce will improve your local presence
How many of your potential customers are Googling “jewelry stores near me” or “jewelry stores in [town or city]?” I’ve often had merchants tell me that they don’t advertise or have an ecommerce presence because “everyone knows we are here.” But truth be told, newcomers don’t know who you are yet, and neither may people in surrounding towns. Having an ecommerce presence is a great way to build your local search marketing and help drive foot traffic to your store.
You can become the trustworthy local expert
Without an ecommerce presence, your voice can only be heard in your store. With an ecommerce presence, you can tell your story. And as you share your passion for the business, you can become the trusted local source for jewelry. This way, your local audience WILL know where you are when they are looking to make a purchase. It’s a great way to start a relationship with someone you do not know.
You may have what a customer somewhere else wants
Ecommerce helps you grow your customer base beyond your zip code, not just beyond your four walls. What you sell in Bellingham, Massachusetts may not be available to a customer in Bellingham, Washington. If your customer likes what she sees on your ecommerce site, you could make yourself a customer-for-life from 3,000 miles away.
Mobile commerce will help you attract on-the-go prospects
We all make jokes about how everyone seems to be on their phones. But the same people who are Facebooking, Instagramming, Snapchatting, texting, and emailing are also looking to make a purchase. Smartphones and mobile apps allow consumers to search for products and services, and you want to be part of that jewelry search. Targeting customers with offers, coupons, and deals while they are on the go can help your store win over your competitor.
Tim Parry is an ecommerce expert and consultant who lives Woodbury, Connecticut. He is a former managing editor of Multichannel Merchant and has advised ecommerce merchants and technology providers of all shapes and sizes.