The jewellery sector as we know and love it has changed beyond recognition. Part of the beauty of shopping for jewellery is being able to touch and try on items before you purchase. The COVID-19 pandemic however has meant this is no longer a possibility, forcing the jewellery sectors hand into joining the retail evolution.
Since the lockdown begun three months ago, people have had no choice but to transform the way they shop for non-essential goods, shifting completely to online channels. While the convenience of online shopping was already moving people towards digital channels, this has been accelerated by the pandemic. However, even as the world slowly unlocks and non-essential stores reopen, the sudden move to digital shopping methods won’t be reversed any time soon.
Moving to the digital world
We are still in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s fair to assume that consumers won’t suddenly stop fearing the virus and venturing out to shops anytime soon. In fact, according to research by YouGov, almost half (46%) of shoppers would feel uncomfortable returning to stores. Although non-essential stores have now started to re-open, footfall is still significantly lower when compared to the same period last year.
Shoppers just simply aren’t heading to the high street and retail centres in the numbers that they were pre-pandemic, and retailers realise that while some shoppers will head back to the stores, it will take a long time to get footfall back to the levels that it previously was. Customers understand that online shopping can offer an alternative way to shop that doesn’t require leaving their homes.
Shopping online will continue to thrive beyond this pandemic crisis. During the first week that stores re-opened, online sales surged by 41.3% year-on-year and 1.8% week-on-week. This suggests that online shopping continues to go from strength to strength despite a belief that the opportunity to spend in re-opened stores would decrease the reliance on online shopping. As such, jewellery brands should find ways to reinvent their online offering to accommodate evolving customer needs and expectations to ensure their customers continue to return to their site.
Humanising the online customer experience
Although an increasing number of shoppers are now benefiting from online channels, the convenience and safety of online shopping cannot replace the human element of an in-store retail experience. In particular, when we look at making considered purchases such as jewellery pieces, customers often seek expert insight to offer advice on the best option available.
When making purchases that require research and consideration, the best and most important part of the sales process is engaging with a human expert who is able to understand your requirements in detail, and very quickly, guide you to the right product. That human interaction is one of the best aspects of shopping and what you can’t get in the online traditional world is that human experience.
This is where live-video shopping can make a huge difference, especially for luxury brands and jewellers. Consumers can benefit from connecting with a highly trained, human, product expert who understands their unique and specific requirements and can guide them to the best product. Live-video solutions offer an online alternative to in-store shopping where consumers often require that expert guidance when purchasing expensive jewellery pieces.
More and more we are seeing brands who understand that by replicating the in-store experience that customers enjoy when in a physical store via the online channel, retailers have the ability to deliver a far superior customer experience which will also allow them to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Focus on the customer
In today’s challenging and highly competitive retail landscape, research suggests that customer experience is expected to overtake both price and product as a brand differentiator. As such, if jewellers are able to offer a fantastic experience to customers, they are far more likely to increase their spending with a particular brand, return and spend again and be an advocate for the retailer to friends, families, and colleagues.
Consumer confidence is at its lowest in history, so jewellers need to ensure they are finding new ways to deliver the top-quality customer experience that has become so synonymous with the jewellery shopping experience. In doing so they will be able to increase trust and customer loyalty and ensure shoppers continue to return to their brand time and time again.
The sudden closure of physical shops has meant that consumers are demanding more from brands online experience than ever before. For jewellers to thrive in this new world it is vital that they join in the retail evolution and focus on investing in innovative technologies that will enable them to deliver their top-quality in-store experience, online.
By André Hordagoda, CEO and co-founder, Go Instore