Online Ring Designing Boosts Store Visits

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A large jewelry store's new "Design Your Ring" interactive feature on its Web site boosted traffic to its store during the holiday shopping season.


Borsheim's, a single-store jewelry retailer in Omaha, NE, owned by Berkshire Hathaway Corp., has more than 62,000 square feet of selling space. The multichannel retailer also mails an annual catalog and operates an e-commerce site, Borsheims.com, from its store.


Design Your Ring, enabled through New York-based RichFX's Rich Design technology, was added to the front page of the site when it relaunched in mid-November.


Borsheim's redesigned the site after research showed that its average customer skewed older and spent more. Executives realized that the site "did not cater to that audience," said Adri Geppert, Borsheim's director of marketing and advertising.


While the average U.S. customer shopping for a wedding ring is in his or her late teens or early twenties and spends $3,000 or less, Borsheim's customers are typically 25-35 with an average purchase around $5,000.


"They are interactive and are using the Web site to gather information," Geppert said. "They needed access to all of our products, anytime they wanted it."


And Geppert wanted the site to be nearly as interactive as the store.


"We have a strong selection of loose diamonds, but were not replicating that experience online," she said. "We did not have a mechanism to place the diamond in the ring."


The new feature lets users design their ring in thousands of combinations from numerous settings, stone sizes, cuts and colors. Linked to its e-commerce platform, shoppers can buy their rings once they complete the three-step design process.


The site also added a service to mail free ring-sizing charts to those who request it.


"When buying rings online, a guy doesn't think through what size of ring [to buy his fiancée]," Geppert said.


Borsheim's has been unable to track in-store sales directly linked to the Design Your Ring feature and site revamp because they are not segmented from the retailer's regular sales. But Geppert said the online features have pushed more traffic into the store.


"The response to the Design Your Ring functionality has been great," she said. "The response to the ring sizer has been overwhelming."


The increased store traffic and popularity of the ring-sizing offer surprised Geppert because the retailer had not yet publicized the new features. Customers learned about them when they visited the site.


Borsheim's executives wanted to focus on handling the holiday rush and will ramp up promotion of Design Your Ring during the company's annual Engagement campaign, which is heaviest from January through March. Though Borsheim's has not finalized the Engagement campaign, it will include a mix of offline advertising such as newspaper, billboards, event marketing and in-store promotion as well as online advertising and e-mail.


E-mails are sent only during promotions and holidays rather than regular weekly or monthly mailings.


"We are really sensitive about spamming and do not want to over-communicate to these customers unless we have something meaningful to say or offer," Geppert said.


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