Guest author Nikolay Piriankov is Founder and CEO of Taylor & Hart (Erstwhile RarePink.com) a custom jewellery e-tailer based out of London.
Starting an online jewellery business is not easy and to build a successful e-tailer may take years. We started working on Taylor & Hart in 2012 and it took us five years to get to where we are now - having delivered over 2,000 customized engagement rings to over 20 countries since we started. So what are some of the challenges founders will face on this journey? Let’s start off by diving into some of the main challenges:
- The website. Before even launching your online business, you need to find a trusted partner to develop your website. How do you choose and find the right person or team to do this? You may not have unlimited funds too, so you will want to do this with a partner who is both affordable and reliable.
- Product photography and renders. Your customers are used to purchasing jewellery in a store or boutique. How will you convince them to purchase online without being able to touch-and-feel the products. Your product photography, videos and/or renders need to be compelling.
- How your first customers will find you? You have hundreds of competitors and some of them are the largest companies in the world (Amazon and Ebay). So how will you attract visitors to your website?
- Trust on day zero. You have an unknown brand, no reviews and on mentions in the media. Who would trust your website and buy from you?
- Is your supply chain ready? So you got your first order, are you ready to fulfill on your commitment to your customer?
Let’s dive into the first challenge - the website. I would suggest considering working with a specialist who understands your sector. We worked with Transpacific Software to develop our first website and they were professional and affordable.
Here is what I would look for in a website partner
- Customer testimonials from websites you think are well designed and developed
- Tell the potential partner your vision, and then have them tell it back to you, to ensure alignment and that what you want to achieve is understood
- Don’t focus on a complete website, instead on a single beautiful landing page at first. This will allow you to capture new enquiries - then build from there
- Choose a payment gateway that is easy to use - we recommend Stripe
- Make sure your website is fast and responsive
Next, what products are you going to show and how will you present them.
We first tried to use product photography, taking photos of sample rings. The problem is, photographing jewellery is really not easy and requires extensive sample ranges to be produced. Instead, I suggest looking online for “Matrix Designers” that do jewellery rendering. Design your collection with a designer and then have them render these designs in a variety of shapes, metals and sizes.
So now you’re ready, with a website and products to sell… but how do you get your first visitor?
The easy way is Google Adwords - but this is expensive and unsustainable. My suggestion is to find a keyword that people search for, that is not too competitive. We chose, “custom engagement rings”. We then created a lot of high quality content about custom designed rings and Google acknowledged our hard work with a ranking in the top results. To this day, this remains one of our most important sources of traffic. While you wait for the keyword to rank, do a bit of Adwords, but my suggestion is just not to rely on it alone. Rather focus on great content as this will help convert customers and help bring in organic Google traffic.
So now you’ve got a visitor, and even better, they’ve made an enquiry. But you have no trust signals on your site - what do you do?
Be transparent - mention that they are one of your first customers, and as such you, the owner of the company will personally assist them (make them feel special) and guarantee that as one of your first customers, they will receive the most exceptional product and service, at the best price online.
Customers will appreciate your honesty, transparency and some of them will put their trust in you - so make sure you have all your personal accounts up to date on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
So you’ve received your first order! After a brief celebration and sigh of relief, you have to deliver this order. You may be a third generation jeweller of this may be the first piece you’ve ever made, regardless, some simple tips will make a world of difference.
- Be transparent about the supply chain if your customers ask. I find customers ask out of curiosity, but also for their peace of mind. They want quality and to know their jewellery piece comes from ethical gems, diamonds and gold
- Keep your customers updates as their order goes through the process of being made
- Make sure if there are any delays you let them know early
- Packaging makes a difference - make sure it is beautifully packaged
- Be mindful of their delivery expectations. They may have taken a day off to receive the package or it may be a surprise and they are nervous their loved one will find the package - so ensure you understand their situation and arrange for delivery accordingly.
Starting and growing an eCommerce business is not easy, but it can be a great adventure and very rewarding if done well. I wish you all the best of luck