When online shopping started taking off years ago, many predicted that it would spell the end for brick-and-mortar retailers. But then a new trend surfaced; the “bricks and clicks” model. Retailers quickly realized there are many benefits to offering customers both types of shopping experiences. Online retailers moved offline, and vice versa.
Here are our top 6 benefits for having both an online and offline diamond jewelry storefront and tapping in to the best of both worlds.
1. Offer Convenient Pick-Up and Return
Having both an online jewelry retail store and an offline one, allows shoppers to “click and collect,” that is – to shop online and pick up their item in-store, or select an item online and to finalize the purchase only after they’ve seen it in person. This approach takes a lot of the stress out of shopping for diamond jewelry, as it lets shoppers collect goods at their convenience and avoid the hassle of waiting for and having to be at home to receive their delivery. Especially with diamond jewelry, many shoppers will not feel comfortable having their purchase shipped, and will prefer picking it up in-store.
At the same time, shoppers who complete their purchase online will appreciate being able to return their items in-store if necessary. This takes away the mystery of knowing if and when their return shipment arrived back at the retailer’s. It also allows for instant refunds.
Offering online shoppers the opportunity to return items in-store has some benefits for you, too. First, shoppers who arrive in store to make a return may linger and end up purchasing something else. Allowing for in-store returns can lower the shipping costs you’d otherwise incur for returned items. Finally, as Mike Kercheval writes in a TechCrunch article about online retailers opening brick-and-mortar stores, “for online sales with direct delivery and only remote exchanges, retailers can expect a net sale of 77 percent, whereas online sales with in-store returns result in an expected net sale of 95 percent because of an 18 percent increase in additional sales.”
2. Engage with Customers on Their Terms
Offering customers both an online and offline diamond jewelry store will allow you to satisfy a number of consumer types. Some shoppers need to see and feel a piece of jewelry, and receive support and feedback from a sales representative before being ready to complete their purchase. Others prefer the convenience of being able to complete a purchase in a matter of clicks. Still others need to manage various limitations – like work schedules or taking care of the children – and require alternative shopping options. Lastly, you will always encounter the shopper who doesn’t have time to wait for an online order to be fulfilled, and needs to make a purchase and obtain it right away. For that customer, instant gratification is the name of the game.
By having both online and brick-and-mortar stores, you engage with current and future customers on their terms, and provide them the convenience to shop how they want to shop.
3. Test New Products Before Offering Them In-Store
One of the greatest conveniences of operating an online store is the ability to offer new items and product types with less hassle and expense than would be required to provide those items in-store. With an online store in addition to your brick-and-mortar diamond jewelry store, you can test how new products perform online and use your findings to determine whether it makes sense to offer them in-store.
4. Create a Community
A brick-and-mortar store allows you to go beyond selling and take advantage of creative opportunities for building your customer community. This means nurturing not only your customers’ relationships with you, but also their engagement with one another.
Perhaps some of your shoppers are diamond jewelry aficionados. Inviting a diamond expert to do a 1-hour presentation and Q&A is a fun event that could bring your customer community together and strengthen their relationship with you. Your brick-and-mortar store can also host special holiday events that you can advertise on your online store. The possibilities are endless!
5. Create Lasting Relationships
There’s a reason we’re seeing so many online retailers opening brick-and-mortar stores. The truth is, a physical presence is invaluable for truly connecting with your customers and creating long-lasting relationships. On-screen recommendations don’t match the comfort received by suggestions from a friendly and knowledgeable salesperson. The opportunity to consult and purchase diamond jewelry face-to-face with a knowledgeable associate will always outweigh emails and support calls.
Complementing your brick-and-mortar store with an online store, will add that additional level of convenience for your loyal customers who already know and respect you. It’ll also offer those customers more ways to spread the word about you to their friends – including those who don’t live locally, but would now be able to buy diamond jewelry online from your store.
6. Double Whammy Effect
Every interaction with your store and brand will influence a customer’s opinion about you and their purchasing decisions. Having both an online and brick-and-mortar store gives you better odds to satisfy and impress current and future customers. You can use each of these store types to complement one another; after all, more shoppers than ever are now doing research online before buying. Your online store will support in-store sales by providing up-to-date information on pricing, availability and more. At the same time, a shopper’s positive in-store experience will inspire future visits to your website and increase the likelihood of that shopper turning into a repeat customer.
Your brick-and-mortar store allows customers to get to know your brand on a personal level, and feel safer and more confident in making their diamond jewelry purchases from you. Having your physical store hand-in-hand with an online store can offer current and future customers an invaluable, multichannel opportunity to engage with you in whichever ways suit them best. Online stores have been around long enough for us to know that they will never overcome brick-and-mortar stores, and to learn that the best approach to meeting customers’ demands today, is to offer both.
To learn more about setting up an online store, read our Beginner's Guide: How to Set Up Your Online Jewelry Store.