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In-Depth

Omni-channeling the future

Retailers are harnessing artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain to lift their marketing campaigns and improve the customer experience.

By Adina-Laura Achim

Image: Shutterstock

Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and blockchain ledgers are helping diamond retailers create marketing campaigns and tools that delight audiences and increase online sales.

Among the retailers leveraging these headline-grabbing innovations is Lugaro Jewellers in Canada, which has installed 3DM holographic machines in select stores. These devices let customers try on an extensive selection of the company’s conflict-free diamonds and verify each stone’s provenance. Buyers can also view the diamond report, which includes information about the 4Cs and a 3D image of the gem. Lugaro has managed to merge the digital and physical to create a more meaningful and personalized retail experience that emotionally connects the brand to the customer.

Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook, meanwhile, has harnessed AI and blockchain to make the shopping experience seamless. So far, the jeweler’s digital D-One jewelry-customization platform allows customers to design pieces via their mobile devices. They can also enjoy the convenience of the D-One WeChat mini program, where they can select their diamonds and jewelry settings.

In addition, the retailer employs radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking in its stores. Using RFID tags, Chow Tai Fook’s Smart Trays help the jeweler capture shopping-behavior data and then provide tailored recommendations based on consumers’ preferences.

Engaging platforms

In 2010, Tiffany & Co. launched the Engagement Ring Finder mobile app, which let shoppers virtually try on a wide range of rings. Though the jeweler no longer supports this platform, it marked the company’s first foray into the app world. Helzberg Diamonds, James Allen, Diamond Hedge, Brilliant Earth, Blue Nile and others have since introduced similar AR-powered try-on features.

Fast forward to 2018, when Tiffany used another experiential marketing tactic to advertise its Tiffany Paper Flowers collection in China.

“Tiffany & Co.’s Tmall consumers were given exclusive first access to their Paper Flower collection weeks before it was available in their physical store,” says Andrew Tran, principal Southeast Asia marketing and sales strategist for AT Digital. “The experience through augmented reality enabled users to virtually try on the collection.”

Tiffany mastered omni-channel “by simultaneously creating a mini-game experience for shoppers and rewarding buyers with exclusive invites to their release party,” Tran adds.

The virtues of virtual

Then there’s Inova Diamonds, an Israeli-based developer specializing in AI- and AR-based tech solutions for jewelry and diamond retailers. The company has offered bespoke services to brands like Michael Hill, Rare Carat, Reeds Jewelers, and Diamonds Direct.

“We provide [the] AI proportion-based AR Virtual Tryon experience both in 2D and 3D,” says company CEO Artem Soundelzon, who stresses the importance of AR in marketing. “Using AR in social campaigns drives more brand recognition and new highly engaged traffic. Since AR for e-commerce is a tool that the end consumers seek when shopping online today, we see it’s vital to associate the brand with AR technology and point it out to customers in marketing campaigns.”

Other companies have developed AI-powered tools as well. For instance, the Engage app uses AI technology to assist customers in designing their own rings, while the Ringo tool from online educational resource The Diamond Pro helps shoppers identify eye-clean diamonds.

With disruptive technologies bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds, leading diamond retailers and marketers are using them to build omni-channel experiences, create powerful campaigns, tailor content, enhance customer retention and maximize brand awareness. As time goes on, even more companies will be turning to tech to gain market share.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - April 2022. To subscribe click here.

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