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Bridging the Offline-to-Online Gap

Creating an eCommerce website that allows customers to shop with transparency and confidence

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Johanna Breman Tzur
Johanna Breman Tzur
CMO at JamesAllen.com

Johanna Breman Tzur is the Chief Marketing Officer at JamesAllen.com, a leading online jewellery brand that has experienced double-digit growth for the last 10 years straight. James Allen pioneered the technology that allows consumers to purchase diamonds and gemstones online with confidence.

Making Purchase Easier Online

Even with the growing click-to-brick trend, many direct-to-consumer businesses are still making their first moves online or are working to optimize their website. To create the ideal digital shopping experience, these brands need to design user journeys that captivate customers and build confidence.

We’ve learned that when most of your customers are Millennials, they don’t really have as much of a mental barrier to buying big-ticket items — even diamonds — online. It’s just a matter of getting the experience right, and using the most effective tools to make purchasing on your site easier and more accessible than other options.

Lay the Groundwork for Discovery

Physical retail brands sometimes build their online presence with the legacy mentality that somebody walks into a store and you sell to them. But visitors come to your site to buy, not to be sold to.

You need to switch mentalities to support the buyer through discovery and conversion with the best possible user interface, user experience, and on-site customer service, rather than chase them down with product and discounts.

direct-to-consumer ecommerce marketing

For example, visitors to our site immediately have the option to design their own rings or to browse recent customer designs. This gets them into exploring and discovery mode right off the bat, while adding social proof to the mix.

We also made 24/7 customer service a priority, by chat, phone, and email. Our customer service team includes gemologists who can answer super specific questions with expert knowledge. This way, shoppers can move through common barriers to purchase at their own pace and convenience, getting the information they need when they need it.

To get the most out of this discovery-first set up, the holy grail for brands is really about finding a non-intrusive, customer-serving way to capture quality leads. You don’t want to offer some giveaway that gets you a million email addresses of people who have no interest in ever purchasing from your site.

Instead, it’s important to offer something that uniquely appeals to your target purchaser. For us, one method of doing this has been gating access to our SuperZoom tool that lets visitors view diamonds at an extreme close-up. If someone is that interested in a particular stone, they’re worth more than hundreds of people aiming to win free product.

Use Sequenced Touchpoints to Build Trust

In the jewellery industry, the purchasing period tends to be several months long, so we’ve created a journey of back-and-forth conversations and touchpoints. There’s a photo gallery of engagement moments, we have customer reviews, an education center, where visitors can learn about gemstones and diamonds, and even a ring sizing tool.

Shoppers are sent to particular resources based on their gender, how long they’ve been in our cycle, if they’ve bought before or haven’t, and then obviously behaviors on the site.

Depending on your vertical, you’ll have different interactive tools and resources to use, like fit quizzes, blog posts, customer photo galleries, product customization modules, etc. These also help you collect more information about shoppers so you can further personalize their journey.

direct-to-consumer ecommerce marketing

By post-purchase, you want to have as much information as you can about your customers. Prospective customers can gain confidence in the brand from seeing thousands of couples and their happy stories, either through pictures in our engagement moments gallery or in reviews both on and offsite. Reviews are an increasingly important conversion tool.

Promote transparency with on-site tools

Our whole approach to our site was built on transparency and our customers’ need to be able to see the product in enough detail to convince them to buy it.
For us, visualization tools — 360º HD videos at up to 40x magnification — have been essential. When you’re holding up a jeweler’s loupe, many people take a while just to learn how to look through it. You’ll get a closeup view, but nothing like the 360º videos at 40X super zoom that we offer on site.

Look around at what your competition is doing to create transparency on site and take it a step further. So it’s not necessarily always doing something new, but doing it better. For example, there were product videos in the jewelry space before, but not with super zoom.

Conclusion

  • Make discovery easy – Create a site that’s simple to navigate with plenty of opportunities for visitors to get more information or to access customer service hassle-free. Give shoppers the tools to buy rather than selling aggressively.
  • Create behavior-based shopper experiences – Guide your visitors to different on-site resources based on their level of engagement and user profile.
  • Collect customer reviews – Reviews are a low-cost conversion tool. Be sure to engage customers post-purchase and request feedback.
  • Use technology for transparency – Create tools that allow your customers to see and evaluate every aspect of your product.

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