In the olden days of the Internet (early 1990's), that books, movies and music would sell well online, but crafts, jewelry and clothing, would not. In recent reports, retail jewelry sales have jumped as much as 250% in the first quarter of 2007. This jump is not necessarily in the area of one-of-a-kind or limited edition artisan jewelry, but it does indicate a movement toward a buying attitude by the public.
Your potential online artisan jewelry customer is a savvy individual who can easily access a wide range of jewelry artisans’ work and compare them. She will understand that artisan jewelry is designed and made by an artisan and will be unique. This customer expects the best in craftsmanship, quality materials and service for her money.
Jewelry can be a very personal and emotional purchase. It can be particularly difficult to sell online as it can be difficult for your customer to get an idea of the actual color, craftsmanship, weight and size of a piece without seeing it. Since the character of artisan jewelry is that it is unique and frequently one-of-a-kind, it may be hard for your potential customer to relate it to a known item like production jewelry and get an idea of what the piece is really like.
Here are some other difficulties for those of us who sell our artisan jewelry online.
1. Of course, getting traffic to your site is the first hurdle for the online jewelry artisan.
2. The site should offer something of value to the visitor beyond just an advertisement.
3. It is difficult to present an accurate impression of color, size and detail when buying a piece of jewelry online.
4. The site visitor needs to trust your credibility to buy from you.
5. Payment security is a big issue for online buyers.
6. The buyer will want to see your guarantee, returns and privacy policies.
Your website and your online interactions with the customer can alleviate any uncertainty the customer holds and guide her in a decision as to which piece can best fit in her jewelry collection or match a particular outfit.
Building and maintaining your site will take about half of your time and marketing the site will take the other half. You are looking for potential buyers, not just other jewelry artisans who are looking for inspiration, so you need to know your customers and how to access them online. Online marketing is a huge subject that ranges from search engine optimization of the site itself to networking online and even to writing for other websites to gain those all-important incoming links. It is an area that is changing rapidly and we will explore some of these avenues in subsequent articles.
Content is the currency that visitors expect and will help keep them as repeat visitors to your site. Your site needs load quickly, be easy to navigate and present your jewelry accurately. Along with the jewelry, provide articles on jewelry, gemstone or fashion-related subjects. This will build your credibility as well as helping you establish your expertise in your subject.
Show the piece from various angles and tell the story of each piece - the inspiration, materials, techniques and measurements. Explain the differences between artisan made and production jewelry and how this benefits the customer. Colors are not necessarily the same on each monitor, and this should be noted. Offer a mailto so your site visitor can ask any questions. If you do get a question about a piece, answer the email immediately and consider adding the answer to the description of the piece.
Check your site for grammar and spelling errors, as this greatly affects your credibility. If a person sees a shoddy site, she may expect to see shoddy jewelry. Be sure your links work properly and that the site is up-to-date. If you have a show calendar, keep it current. Orphaned or neglected websites destroy your image as a credible merchant and artisan.
Your returns, guarantee and privacy policies must be readily accessible on your site. Payment should flow flawlessly. If there is a glitch in the payment process or it is not secure, your carefully cultivated buyer will just drop the purchase and leave.
Contact your customer soon after the date you expected the piece to arrive to see that it arrived safely. This always seems to surprise buyers, but leaves them knowing that you are standing behind your piece and want to continue the relationship.
Spectrum Jewelry Resources
Louise Coulson has combined her experience (webmaster to 25 domains at once) with changes in Internet marketing. Her focus is now Internet marketing for artisans. Her eBook, Website ShowCase is an artisan's guide to website development and marketing. She is webmaster for http://www.jewelryspectrum.com and http://www.wireweavers.com