So you have decided that you want to start selling jewellery online but not sure where to start?
I created this blog from the perspective of someone who has been there and done it, rather than the generic How to Start a Business post with the word jewellery thrown in a few times. And I wrote it in a way that it covers all the things I wish I had been told before I started and I cover the following things:
If you already have a jewellery business and want to know how to get it online then check out the following post:
Ideally you want people to build your jewellery business as a brand, because you are more likely to build a repeat customer base if you are a brand rather than just a jeweller. That is why getting your brand identity right is an important step in building a successful jewellery business.
Your Business Name
The base of all your branding is your business name and you want it to be something people will remember so that they can easily find you when they are thinking of buying. You also want your business name to have longevity so generally avoid names that are on trend at the moment but could look quite silly in a few years.
Another thing I often see is names that are a unique way of spelling a word, while this might seem a bit edgy the likelihood is that most people will forget how to spell it and probably won't put the effort in to find you!
Instead keep your name short and easy to remember and you see this trend with nearly all of the big names in the industry. While it might seem a bit old fashioned, using your name is still one of the best choices.
Once you have decided on a brand name, you want to make sure that the matching domain name and social media accounts are available, my favourite tool for this is namecheckr.com. If they are available then it is best to get them as soon as you can and with domain names you really want to get the .com and your national one such as .co.uk or .com.au.
When it comes to choosing a domain name, there are a few best practices to try and stick to so that your domain name is easier to remember and they are:
- Ideally not longer than 20 characters
- Not more than 3 words, ideally 1 or 2
- Don't hyphenate - people always forget the hyphen!
- Avoid obscure suffixes such as .london, .business or .online - 99% of people will type .com or their national suffix
Effectively, point 3 and 4 just increase the chances of people visiting your site and not someone else's. If your desired domain name is not available, then try slight alternatives such as instead of paulhaywoodjewellery.com, I could try phjewellery or phaywoodjewellery.
You also want your domain name and social media accounts to all have the same name as it just aids brand continuity.
Creating a Logo
The next step is to create a logo for your business and as with your business name, you want to keep it simple and memorable.
For many jewellery businesses, it is often the case of choosing the right font and possibly a small symbol. Having a fancy logo is great but if it doesn't communicate your business name very well, then it is not really doing what you want it to.
The two tools I have found to be the best for creating a business logo are Adobe Photoshop and Canva.
The next thing to look at is your packaging and this is a really important point as your packaging the first thing your customer is going to see once they receive their item. There are two elements to your packaging and want both of them working for your business.
You want your gift packaging to reflect your brand because this is the first thing that the recipient of your jewellery is going to see. If you sell high end luxury jewellery, is a £1 cardboard gift box really the right choice? Or is a hinged wooden box in a nice gift bag the better way to go?
Fortunately there are plenty of jewellery packaging suppliers out there who can provide high quality gift boxes and bags to suit all price ranges. You can also customise your packaging to include your brands logo or you can opt for bespoke packaging that incorporates your brands colours and logo.
As an online business, you want to make sure your jewellery gets to the customer unscathed and for that you need to have good postal packaging. You can also add your brands logo to your packaging but something that is becoming more popular is environmentally friendly packaging.
It looks a lot better to your customer is you can say that all your packaging is recyclable. In many ways eco-friendly packaging also looks far nicer, for example compostable cornstarch pellets looks way better than bubble wrap. It is also not much more expensive and it goes down really well with customers!
2. Create a Jewellery Range
Having a jewellery range can help to give your business some identity and differentiate you from other jewellery businesses.
Choosing a Niche
But jewellery is a niche isn't it? Not really, jewellery encompasses a large amount of different niches under one banner and it is better if you focus your business on one specific niche when you are starting out. Some of the most successful new jewellery businesses I know are successful because they are specialists in one area and have captured that one particular market, rather than trying to attract everyone.
There are many different niches within the jewellery trade and here are a few examples:
- Fashion Jewellery
- Men's Jewellery
- Bridal and Wedding Jewellery
- Sterling Silver Jewellery
- Vintage Jewellery
- Gold Jewellery
- Diamond Jewellery
- Gem Set Jewellery
Honestly I could go on and on and even in these niches there are sub-niches that are more specialised.
How do you decide on a niche? A lot of that comes down to you, is there any area you have worked with before or know a lot about? When I started out, I focused on gold jewellery as I had previously worked as a gold buyer so I knew a lot about what I was selling. Being knowledgeable about your products will be a huge benefit to your business, you will be able to write far better content for your website in terms of product descriptions and blog posts as well as being able to provide informative answers to any customer enquiries.
Even though it can work, focusing too heavily on a very specialised niche can cause you problems. For example just focusing on Sterling Silver Wolf rings has a very small target audience, who you might struggle to reach and the potential for future growth is quite limited. Instead doing Sterling Silver animal themed rings gives you are far wider audience while still being in a niche.
Marketing a niche business is also easier as you are targeting a smaller audience, this means you can refine your marketing strategy, SEO and website content so that it is aimed at your target audience.
Finding Manufacturers and Suppliers
It doesn't matter whether you are a designer and/or maker or a re-seller, you need to develop a good network of suppliers, manufacturers and tradespeople. Obviously it depends on your products as to what kind of suppliers you need but the two best ways to find them are using search engines such as google and Facebook groups. I like Facebook groups as you can get recommendations from people within the trade as to who to use, a good one for any UK based businesses is The Society of British Jewellers Facebook Page.
If you are just starting out then you want to develop good relationships with your suppliers as they can pay dividends in the future. Never mess a supplier about as it is a pretty small world within the trade and you don't want your name getting tarnished!
Test the Market
Before spending all your start up money of stock, you need to establish if there are buyers for your jewellery. In my experience, the best thing to do is buy small quantities but aim for a large variety. This way you can really gauge what will sell and you can then start refining your product selection.
You can also use social media to test the market as well, even though it is not as good as getting actual sales. But by posting different types of jewellery on sites such as Instagram and Facebook, you soon start to see which styles get the most reactions, which is a good indicator that they will sell.
You want to be continuously doing this process so that you are always stocking jewellery that will sell and you might be surprised as to what does sell well.
3. How to Price your Jewellery
I see so many new businesses fail with this one and in 7+ years selling jewellery online, I have seen many come and go as they didn't understand how to price their jewellery. The reason why I was still around was because I understood my profit margins and what I needed to get out of each sale to pay the bills every month. There is a lot of information in this section but it is worth reading as understanding how to price your jewellery properly will really help you set the foundations of a successful business!
You also need to work out your pricing and profit margins before committing to a big order. I have walked away from many product lines as the margin just wasn't there. Selling at a loss or just breaking even is not a good way to run a business unless you want to run it out of business!
You know how much the piece has cost you but how much should you sell it for? You will often hear lots of jewellers talking about multipliers when the price their jewellery. But what is a multiplier? A multiplier is a number by which the cost price is multiplied in order to get the sale price. Common multipliers in the jewellery trade are 2.3 and 2.5 but realistically can range from 2 to 4 depending on your business, where you are located, your clientele etc.
Let me show you how this works:
Your piece total cost is £100 x 2.5 multiplier = £250 sale price
It really is as simple as that. If you are VAT registered then you can either choose to include the VAT in your multiplier or add the VAT after the multiplier so the example about would be:
£100 x 2.5 Multiplier = £250 + VAT @ 20% = £300 Sale Price
This is the step that a lot of businesses overlook until it is too late. One of THE MOST IMPORTANT things when figuring out your pricing is to ensure that your profit margin is going to cover all of your businesses costs. Because if they don't then you will be loosing money and potentially be going out of business.
But how do you figure out your profit margin? Well it is another formula! Accountants love formulas.
Fees are any fee that you have to pay when you sell an item also known as transaction fees. Common transaction fees come from marketplaces, ecommerce platforms and/or payment processors.
P&P (Postage and Packing) are any costs related to posting a out your jewellery but make sure you factor in any associated costs such as:
- Cost of postage
- Gift packaging
- Postal Packaging
- Any paper work you include such as packing slips, invoices etc
You then want to convert the Gross Profit figure into a percentage of the sale price and this will be your profit margin. Then you can figure out if your profit margin on your sales are going to cover your business costs.
4. Creating a Website
Once you have your branding, jewellery range and pricing sorted, you then need somewhere to sell your jewellery. One of the quickest and easiest ways to start selling online is to use a marketplace such as Ebay or Etsy but for this post I am going to focus on building your own website.
When it comes to building an online store, I highly recommend using a Hosted Ecommerce Platform such as EKM, ShopWired or Shopify because they make it much easier to launch an online store than a self-hosted solution such as WordPress + Woocommerce and Opencart.
The reason why I recommend using these types of platforms are:
- You don't have to worry about any of the technical aspects of running a website. All your hosting, performance and security is taken care of by the platform.
- This means that you can focus on the more important parts such as sales and marketing.
- They are usually loaded with all the features that you need to run a successful online store.
- The initial costs are much cheaper than having a custom website built as you pay a monthly fee that start from £25 a month + vat.
- They are much quicker to set up, even a complete novice can get an ecommerce store up and running in a few days.
As there are quite a few different ecommerce platforms out there so I am not going to cover them in this post. Instead I have written a separate post where I list the what I think are the Best Hosted Ecommerce Platforms for UK Businesses.
Once you have got your online store set up, you need a way to get paid and it is always advisable to have more than one payment method. There are two main reasons for this:
- The more payments options you have, the more likely you are to convert your websites visitors into buyers. This is because some visitors will have preferred payment methods such as PayPal or credit card.
- If you run into issues with one of your payment processors, then you still have a way of getting paid.
If you are just starting out then going with a payment processor such as WorldPay or SagePay is probably not the best idea as they have long contracts with monthly fees attached. Instead it is better to go with pay as you go solutions and in my opinion the best combination is PayPal and Stripe as you are covering the two most popular payment methods.
Even though the fees with PayPal are quite high, starting at 3.4% + 20p transaction fee. It is a very popular payment method and as you only pay when you use it. Stripe offers a similar pay as you go option but just for credit and debit cards and the fees are lower than PayPal, starting at 1.4% + 20p transaction fee.
5. Marketing your Website
Once you have your online store up and running, you now need to to develop a marketing strategy in order to get potential customers to your website. There are a few different marketing routes that you can take, some of these are free but takes time to see results or paid adverts that will get you traffic quicker but could end up costing you a lot of money if you don't do it right.
I personally have no experience of paid advertising so I will discuss two free methods that I have used on my own websites.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The aim of search engine optimisation is to get good quality organic traffic by getting your website to appear on the first page of search results. But what does SEO comprise of?
- Keyword research to find search terms that you want your website to rank for
- The use of chosen keywords on your website
- Internal linking on your website
- Back links from external websites to yours
The reason why you want to have good SEO on your site is that your conversion rates will be higher from organic traffic than any other traffic source. The downside with SEO is that it takes time for your site to rise up the search rankings and any changes to your sites SEO also takes time to see the results.
Social Media Marketing
Social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategy as it is one of the best ways to get traffic to your website. What is good about social media marketing is that once you have built up a following, you can market directly to them and they are more likely to be receptive as they are already interested in your business.
You will need to invest some time in your marketing strategy so that you know which social media sites to focus your effort on.
As every business is different, it is hard to say what will be best for your business. From my own personal experience, jewellery businesses generally do quite well on visual social medias such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
I cover social media marketing in more detail in another post I have wrote and I also give you a strategy so that you can figure out which social media sites to focus your energy on.
6. Most Importantly...... GET STARTED!
Meticulous planning is NOT going to generate sales, getting started is. I have heard many people say that they don't feel ready or that it is not the right time to start but there never will be a right time. The majority of business owners, me included didn't feel ready but we just went for it.
Most people say this as the scared, scared of making that jump and chasing their dreams, they are also scared of making mistakes and being a failure. Well I am not going to sugar coat it, you will make mistakes, some of these will cost you time, money or both but these are opportunities to learn and grow. When you are faced with an obstacle you soon realise that you have the ability to adapt and overcome these problems.
Running a business is some of the best on the job training you can get, so take a breath and make the decision to go for it!