There's an element of mistrust that comes from not being able to directly see and hold the item, inherent in online buying no matter the industry. Many people have concerns about the return policies and the very fact that prices are so low can often work against it.
London (PRWEB) September 25, 2008
The percentage of jewellery consumers buying online has grown by a whopping 39 percent over the last 9 years, according to a recent study by JCK-Harrison Group. In 1999, just 3 percent of those questioned had bought online, a figure that has now risen to 42 percent.
However the study also revealed that buyers are still favouring the high street stores over online retailers by more than two to one, with 87 percent continuing to purchase this way. This reluctance to commit fully to shopping online for jewellery, despite huge savings of as much as 60 percent, is a result of several factors.
Gary Ingram, managing director of The Diamond Store, an online jewellery shop selling diamond eternity rings through to diamond earrings, said: "There's an element of mistrust that comes from not being able to directly see and hold the item, inherent in online buying no matter the industry. Many people have concerns about the return policies and the very fact that prices are so low can often work against it."
This is because the reduced prices are seen as tantamount to a lack of quality or authenticity, neither of which is accurate. Online jewellery stores are able to offer such discounts primarily because they do not have the overheads tied up with operating shops. They also work on lower profit margins because of the competitive nature of the Internet and assume profitability through sheer quantity of sales. This buying power gives them access to preferential rates from wholesalers which is why it is not uncommon to find literally thousands of pounds difference between a high street product and its' comparative online counterpart.
What should consumers be looking for though when it comes to buying online? Ingram said: "Check the jewellery is hallmarked (according to UK legislation). This guarantees the ring has been made from material passed by a UK government approved agency." In fact The Diamond Store goes one step further and backs this up with a 5 year guarantee against manufacturer defects and provides a certificate of authenticity with any product over 18 carat, all solitaire rings and platinum jewellery.
Ingram continues: "Make sure the site you are using is a member of a recognised governing body, such as the British Jewellers´Association which represents over 600 UK jewellery and silverware suppliers. Read customer testimonials; there´s no better proof of quality than the good word of other satisfied customers. Also take a look at their returns policy. Most reputable firms will give you 30 days to try the product on in the comfort of your home. If it is not suitable then providing it is returned within the time period in the same condition they will receive a full refund."
Of course for some shoppers the idea of not being able to try the jewellery on is an issue but considering the ease of return and the fact that online stores provide a much wider choice and variety than high street stores, this is becoming less of a reason. In fact for many people, men in particular, finding gifts in this way has become a godsend as it gives them the freedom to browse without feeling intimidated by sales staff. The Diamond Store also send out a free tool for measuring ring size to anyone who registers on their website, which can save any additional confusion.
"What we are noticing is that many consumers will start small and then once their confidence is up, come back for a bigger purchase. Our average sale totals £400," discusses Ingram. "Currently our most popular items are the eternity rings. While the huge variety and efficient, friendly service is a factor, this is predominantly because it is the area where the greatest savings can be made."