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L2 Scores Digital IQ of Specialty Jewelers

Zales Outscores Kay, Tiffany & Co. and Cartier

Nov 10, 2014 12:50 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... L2 ThinkTank tested the digital competence of 82 specialty retailers, including some jewelers, to diagnose the brands' strengths and weaknesses online.  The group developed a proprietary brand scoring system and categorized each retailer on five levels:  "genius," meaning a retailer competitively differentiated itself and reached consumers on a variety of devices; "gifted" assured that the digital presence was consistent with the brand's image and marketing efforts; "average" translated into just functional and predictable efforts;  "challenged" lacked consistent adoption of mobile and multi-channel platforms, and "feeble" defined retailers whose investment online is missing great opportunities.

Of all the brands reviewed, L2 defined only one "genius"  -- Sephora, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

In reviewing brands that sell jewelry and/or watches in any capacity, Ralph Lauren, Coach and Forever 21 scored solidly in the "gifted" category, while Michael Kors, Zales, Steve Madden, Tory Burch and Kate Spade were a few points behind, but still positioned well.

Those retailers that scored "average," and have room to improve their digital presence, included Ann Taylor, White House | Black Market, Loft, Kay Jewelers, Tiffany & Co., Allen Edmonds, Swatch Group, Fossil, Alex and Ani, Swarovski and BCBGMaxazria.

Meanwhile,  "challenged" retailers on the list  included Club Monaco, Tourneau, Cartier, Desigual, C wonder and French Connection. Finally, L2 named only two "feeble" brands, suggesting they both have much work to do -- Waterford and Baccarat.

Connecting with shoppers online is extremely important, according to L2, as Christmas season store traffic -- on average -- has fallen by 50 percent since 2010.  In addition, sluggish U.S. consumer spending continues, so "perpetual optimism" for a happy holiday season is overshadowed by the reality of weak  spending,  coupled with a retail environment that treats ecommerce as an "overlooked middle child," L2 stated. Online traffic to retailers continues to erode, which is attributed to the wave of digital browsers as opposed to actual buyers, as more conversions (actual purchases) happen offline. 

L2 cited research showing that 43 percent of retail web traffic will be from mobile devices this Christmas season, but only account for 20 percent of sales, which is a missed opportunity. Only 33 percent of specialty retailers allow visitors to check inventory from  a desktop/laptop or tablet, while 14 percent extend that option to mobile users. In addition, hidden costs -- especially charges related to shipping -- translate  into lower conversions. L2 stated that 58 percent of consumers said a   retailer's shipping charge blew their budget, so they abandoned the shopping cart; while half of the shoppers left their purchase order unfilled because it did not qualify for free shipping. Thirty-seven percent of consumers stated that a retailer simply listed shipping costs too late in the checkout process and they, too, abandoned  their purchase.

Shipping strategies are evolving and vary by brand and category; however, L2 found that 24 percent of jewelry and watch firms  always offered free shipping,  66 percent offered free shipping with a set minimum purchase and 66 percent offered standard shipping rates. Tory Burch offered the lowest average shipping fee of $4, while Baccarat, Tiffany & Co. and Tumi were the highest supplemental cost per order at $15.


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Tags: brands, digital index, ecommerce, Jeff Miller, jewelers, L2, marketing, retail
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