Every industry has felt the influence of the ever-growing digital world. It’s not just changing how we buy either — online platforms are offering up new ways to decide what to wear and increasing the selection on offer. So how have these changed caused the jewellery industry to evolve?
There are new manufacturing processes and marketing opportunities arising within the sector that are leaving their influence of consumer trends. This article will investigate how the digital upheaval has transformed the jewellery industry.
Jewellers often have to carry out transactions face-to-face rather than over the internet, due to the nature of the item they are selling. However, the growing authority of omni-channel strategies is opening opportunities for brands across the industry. For example, Hong-Kong-based jeweller, Chow Sang Sang, is currently gravitating towards an omni-channel process, while other brands across the globe have seen rises in sales by offering omni-channel services as simple as letting customers reserve jewellery online before viewing the item in-store.
According to Google, such omni-channel usage allows for “retailer marketing strategies [that] are geared toward enabling customers to convert on any channel”. Rather than simply selling jewellery in-store and promoting offers via print media, omni-channel is allowing jewellery brands to merge online and offline, offering more opportunity for advertising and conversions, as well as a less disjointed experience that consumers will enjoy.
Fashion and usage: SMART jewellery
SMART jewellery is another hot trend that blends jewellery and function. Rather than choosing jewellery solely for aesthetic reasons, consumers are now jumping on the trend for a unison of fashion and technology.
Self-monitoring analysis and reporting technology (SMART) products have come off rapidly in recent years, such as with smartwatches and sleep-tracker necklaces. According to research, sales for fitness bracelets and smart watches in the UK hit four million in 2017 — up 18% on the previous year. Advances in digitalisation are creating a new niche in the market. So, expect more attractive wearable technology that’s designed with an equal focus on style and usability.
Software such as CAD (computer-aided drawing) means that the manufacturing process of jewellery has changed entirely. It allows manufacturers and designers to slash the time it takes to get a new product from concept to store window. By allowing new jewellery designs to be mapped out via a computer, manufacturers can assess the aesthetic and technical aspects of a new piece before investing time, effort and money into drafting a physical product. Similarly, with 3D printing, building real objects from digital files is a revolution that has been capitalised on by the jewellery industry. When creating a piece of jewellery, a 3D printer takes a software blueprint and physically builds it layer by layer, allowing the manufacturer to create a final product with a smooth finish and cutting the production time significantly.
CAD is now used alongside the 3D printing process to help support the act of selling. By using CAD and 3D printing, customers who are looking for bespoke pieces of jewellery can view a virtual prototype or preliminary print-out of their personally-designed product. What’s more, the jeweller can interchange stones and metals using CAD with ease to show the customer variations on their design, potentially improving the customer experience and increasing the chances of a conversion.
Influencers and social media
It used to be that antique jewellery items were a luxury reserved for the few. However, the growth of social media has led to a rise in visibility among jewellery brands — especially on platforms like Instagram. Instead of engaging with customers in-store or promoting via print advertising, jewellery companies now capture a new, typically younger audience to offer a different experience via the digital world — making jewellery more interactive and accessible.
Jessica McCormack, a London-based jewellery designer, told the Financial Times: “Instagram allows you to be personal and it’s important because jewellery is personal. My clients use the app to connect with me to see who is designing the jewels and how I wear them. It creates a level of trust.”
With Instagram now topping 16.7 million users each month in the UK, it’s a platform all retailers should look into. Using Instagram’s popular shopping platform, jewellery brands have the chance to broaden their marketing reach and create more opportunity for conversions by selling directly to a new demographic without that consumer having to actually visit their online or offline stores.
Latest in laser technology
Laser technology is certainly having its day within the jewellery industry. Once used mainly for cutting and welding, the procedure is now commonly employed to decorate and engrave — throwing open the doors of opportunity for customised jewellery and a more personal consumer experience. By combining lasers with CAD and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) technologies, designers can create more intricate designs at a quicker rate and a greater standard, allowing more interesting designs to be mass produced and enabling bespoke jewellery design services to become more readily available.
With more and more technology offering a way to refine the jewellery creation and sales processes, only time will tell how the digital age will continue to evolve the sector.