The digital world is influencing almost every aspect of industry across the world. From how we buy to what we wear, advances in the digital world have transformed the consumer market — but how have they affected the jewellery industry specifically?
There are many emerging manufacturing products and marketing opportunities in the sector that are impacting both business operations and consumer trends. Here, we’ll explore the most prevalent and look into how digitalisation is transforming the traditions of the jewellery industry.
Real-time analytics and Internet of Things (IoT)
The surge of e-commerce in the jewellery industry has meant that more companies are now able to exploit the benefits of analytics to learn previously unknown details about their target consumers. In the first quarter of 2018, digital revenues of UK retailers grew by 10%, and jewellery brands are taking notice of the benefit that the online shopping world offers.
But having an online store is just part of utilising the power of digital. Advances in real-time analytics have helped jewellery brands discover key information about their audience as soon as they occur, rather than waiting for the data until it’s too late. Real-time data delivers instant information, such as: when the company has been mentioned online (by a blogger or publication, for instance), the route taken by a user to reach a brand’s site (which can suggest alternative advertising platforms) and which pages and PPC campaigns are performing well or poorly (allowing brands to react more efficiently to underperforming marketing strategies and content).
With real-time analytics, jewellery companies — like German company, Beeline — can react immediately to emerging trends, offering in-style pieces to its target consumers and maximising its profit potential.
Many jewellers have physical stores and carry out a lot of business transactions in person, rather than over the internet. 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.
Google states that omni-channel processes ensure that “retailer marketing strategies 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.
Digitalisation in the industry has also given rise to SMART jewellery. Rather than choosing jewellery solely for aesthetic reasons, consumers are now jumping on the trend for a unison of fashion and technology.
SMART (self-monitoring analysis and reporting technology) products have advanced to such an extent in recent years, that consumers can now buy anything from watches that you can use for phone calls, to necklace pendants that monitor your sleep and stress levels.
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.
CAD 3D printing
CAD (computer-aided drawing) has revolutionised the entire jewellery manufacturing process, as 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.
Although 3D printing and CAD technology have been around to manufacture jewellery for a while, the difference today is that many jewellers are also using CAD alongside 3D-printed products to support the selling process.
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.
Once, fine and antique jewellery were luxury items strictly for only a certain type of consumer. 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.
Speaking to the Financial Times, London-based jewellery designer, Jessica McCormack said: “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.”
According to studies, Instagram has 16.7 million monthly users in the UK. 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.
The use of lasers is growing in use throughout the jewellery manufacturing process. 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.
Jewellery manufacturing has been enhanced and supported by various technology advances and digital platforms over recent years — but what will the future hold for the industry?