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The Future of Buying is Multichannel

According to Bain & Company’s annual diamond industry report, 70% of consumers research online and decide on a purchase before they make an in-store jewelry purchase.

Even among diamond buyers, who show a strong preference for buying in-store, online research is a vital step in the decision-making process. Jewelry buyers have been slow to embrace online shopping, but online sales of luxury jewelry are increasing. While 90% of jewelry shoppers prefer to buy in person, 66% will also shop online, with online sales accounting for 22% of total jewelry sales and 13% of luxury jewelry sales. It’s not just the pandemic driving these numbers: while lockdowns and isolation have intensified these trends, sales were moving in this direction before the pandemic. With online sales increasing and younger consumers showing a preference for online shopping, understanding the multichannel buying cycle has become more important than ever.

Most online jewelry sales occur in the fashion sector, but this doesn’t mean that luxury jewelry retailers can afford to ignore the multichannel buying cycle. “Multichannel” refers to a sales cycle that occurs across multiple channels. Your website, online marketplaces, social media, and physical stores and salespeople are all channels through which customers can buy your merchandise.

In the traditional buying cycle, potential customers first have a need and learn about products that can fulfill their need. They then consider where to buy that product, and they come to your store, interact with your staff, and, ideally, make a purchase and come back for their next purchase. It looks something like this:

  • Awareness: Consumer realizes they have a need, and they set out to find a solution
  • Consideration: Consumer researches different companies and products, reads reviews, listens to salespeople in order to make a decision
  • Intent: Consumer decides which product they want based on their needs, budget, and feelings about the product or company
  • Purchase: Consumer comes to a final decision and makes the purchase
  • Retention: Satisfied with their previous purchase, the consumer returns to make another purchase

While the multichannel buying cycle comprises the same steps, consumers now have so much more information to consider and so many more ways to buy that the process becomes nonlinear. They might hear about a product from a friend’s post on social media, or from a social media influencer. They’ll click on a link and browse a shop, or they might seek additional opinions on social media or from friends and family, or read reviews on a site like Yelp. They might buy directly through Instagram or Facebook. They might come to the store in person to evaluate a product, and then buy online. As they gain new information, they might move back and forth between the first three steps a few times before making a decision.

When it comes to making a decision, a consumer might ultimately choose the easiest path: the purchase that is just a couple of clicks or taps away. Instead of going from store to store and interacting with salespeople, consumers can browse a website, scroll through Instagram, read customers reviews, and easily move between all three. Retailers with a multichannel strategy will have an advantage in reaching these customers, as they aren’t reliant on just their brick-and-mortar presence or even their store plus their ecommerce website.

Some retailers might argue that a luxury purchase such as a diamond is best made in person. The majority of consumers would agree, but as online shopping becomes more prevalent and the internet and social media become more intertwined with our offline lives, more consumers are becoming comfortable with the idea of buying just about anything online, no matter the price tag. By embracing a multichannel approach, you can reach customers where they are: in their homes, on their phones, browsing social media platforms and online marketplaces.