‘Web-only diamond jewelry e-retailer JamesAllen.com is in a unique position in the online retail world, as its prime target customers—men and women in their late 20s and early 30s—are in some ways falling into its lap.
The so-called millennial generation, or those commonly defined as ages 35 and under, are now approaching the age range common for marriage in the United States. And this segment of consumers has grown up with shopping on the internet—a boon for JamesAllen.com. Millennials are much more accustomed to making big purchases like jewelry online than are older consumers, who often need more convincing by web merchants that shopping online has advantages over shopping in stores.
JamesAllen.com, No. 248 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, credits much of its recent success—it has tripled its online sales in the last two years—with its ability to appeal to this younger generation in ways its competitors haven’t yet mastered. It’s also well-positioned to sustain this growth in the future, says chief marketing officer Johanna Tzur, because James Allen’s customer, once he buys an engagement ring, tends to come back for wedding bands and anniversary gifts once he’s a pleasant experience on JamesAllen.com.
“We have some confidence that we’ll continue to grow,” she says, “[Our target customer group] is a whole generation of consumers that will not have ever really spent time buying in the traditional ways that other generations have.”
Where the merchant really shines with millennials is in engagement rings and creating trust, Tzur says. Part of that trust comes from how JamesAllen.com displays its 120,000 plus diamonds on its website. It uses its own trademarked 360-degree high-definition imaging technology where all stones are photographed with 15 times or greater magnification. This allows consumers to see all aspects of each diamond—the shape, color, clarity and cut–as well as any flaws. According to JamesAllen.com’s research, one of the biggest barriers for consumers in buying diamonds online is their inability to see the stones in person. This imaging technology helps to overcome this hurdle, Tzur says, as in many ways they can see the diamonds better online than they can in person with a jeweler’s magnifying glass.
On its mobile site and mobile app, JamesAllen.com also has a virtual try-on feature that allows consumers to photograph their hand and place the ring of their choice on their finger to see how it looks.
This feature, as well as its imaging technology, and its live-chat customer service agents, all of whom are certified diamond experts, help to keep customers engaged on its site.
JamesAllen.com also spends a lot of time focused on creating unique and personalized content for consumers for consumption outside of JamesAllen.com, such as on social networks or other web outlets where millennials spend a lot of their time.
In August, for example, it worked with the popular internet media company Buzzfeed to create a marketing video promoting its “design your own engagement ring” feature. The video was a hit on YouTube and drove a 270% increase in web traffic for JamesAllen.com.
It also segments the emails it sends by gender and personalizes messages based on what the consumer has viewed or purchased in the past, or what he may have clicked on in previous emails. “We never send a blast email to our entire list. Ever,” Tzur says. “Men and women get totally different messages.”
Men, for example, might get an email educating them on the various factors in diamond selection, such as cut and clarity. Women might get a message touting the virtual try-on feature.
JamesAllen.com does not disclose its revenue figures publicly, but Internet Retailer estimates the merchant accumulated $288.0 million in online sales last year—up 50% from $192 million in 2015.Favorite