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Online website sales


#1

I tried to post a similar question as this several days ago but
never saw it posted; if it was and I missed it (which would make this
a duplicate post) I apologize.

Obviously lots of people shop online for various things, but I’m
curious, have any of you had any significant success selling retail
online, either via your own personal website or via auction sites
like Ebay?

I have a silver jewelry store, and like (I assume) most retailers,
have a certain amount of “dead” inventory–designs which didn’t sell
as well as expected and which I replaced with better selling designs.
Personally I don’t like having “sales” and/or having showcases filled
with discounted items (I think it gives the wrong impression to
customers, cheapens the store, and trains customers that if they
wait, eventually the item they want will be placed on sale), but what
to do with my old inventory?

I’ve thought about sending setting up a booth at local street/music
festivals (which is how I got my start) but also want to look into
selling the stuff online. Any feedback or advice from any of you?

Thanks in advance,
Doug


#2

Hi Doug, absolutely, we have been online with our jewelry for 7 years
now and for the last several years it has accounted for virtually
all of our sales, making a modest but steady living for 2 of us. I
don’t have any sort of shopping cart outfit on my site - I suppose
that would help but since most of our work is custom it requires
some direct contact anyway - mostly email, occasionally phone. This
month I began a sale page to hopefully move the finished goods
inventory that remains from our days of doing shows and recently a
gallery we co-owned in Eugene, OR. It’s a bit of a rush job and the
pictures are not as most of what’s on my site but I figured better
to put it out less than perfect now than leave it until next year.
Too soon to say how that will work but it certainly can’t hurt to
have it out there instead of sitting quietly in a box somewhere.

Getting found is a big part of the success quotient of course. If
you’re not going to do an all out effort to promote yourself online
then perhaps finding a gallery type outlet online and becoming part
of their larger effort might be the way to go. Also - if you have a
digital camera and some basic computer skills it wouldn’t be much
expense to put your pieces up on a webpage and advertise that
wherever/whenever you advertise your shop - also putting a tag line
on your email. It can’t hurt to multiply the exposure of your work,
available to be seen 24hrs a day even by your current in store
customers. Anyway, just wanted to share my 2 cents as one of the
online jewelers making it online - I know I’m not the only one!
Michelle

www.sumiche.com
creating what you want in platinum, gold and silver


#3

If you have genuinely discounted items then you might try e-bay. It
is full of jewelry though, and to be successful you must pay the
extra for a photo, and then have both something that really stands
out and is priced at a perceived genuine discount. Otherwise it is a
complete waste of time.

There is a web site called Ruby Lane that offers “shops” (web sites)
to artists, antique dealers,etc. We have at least one Orchidian who
has a shop with them. That might be a more doable option than
maintaining your own web site.

Would love to hear how those of you who do have your own web sites
are doing with sales!

Beth in SC


#4

Online website sales - for Doug Dreyfus

My only attempt at online sales so far was with e-Bay last spring.
After viewing the other jewelry offered there I realized it came
from the category which has been discussed in depth here recently,
NOT hand made as listed, but maybe hand assembled from overseas
parts, really inexpensive. Way too much was listed as “handmade by
the artist” (implying the one selling it) and nothing could have
been farther from the truth. (Some overseas underpaid artist for
sure, being deprived of the income and recognition they deserve.)
It pissed me off terribly. MY things are designed and handmade, all
by me, all by myself, start to finish. I have struggled for years
(read that to mean made MANY mistakes and suffered the injuries you
all listed) to gain the knowledge and experience to do what I do,
yet I still tried e-Bay, maybe to educate people on real handmade
jewelry, and, I needed the money.

I chose a pair of my most popular production silver earrings, priced
at $52, running the auction for 10 days, offering to take credit
cards, money orders or personal checks to make it most convenient to
buy my work. I received no bids. I ended up paying e-Bay some fees
(can’t remember now how much, just enough to further insult me) for
my efforts. I would not do this again, it was a waste of my time and
cost me money. The e-Bay shoppers, in my opinion, are looking for
cheap prices, way too cheap for truly handmade jewelry. The major
discount retailers are their usual “jewelry” stores. Maybe others
here have had better luck?

How about guild.com? Anyone have experience with them? I have been
watching them for a couple of years now and see some of the same
jewelry all the time and some new things and artists. Just wondered
about their track record, sales and treatment of artists. Are there
any other on-line “galleries” that would be better?

Question: I have answered several questions here since I found this
group in August. Is it proper for me to introduce myself as I have
seen some people do? Or just jump in from time to time?

Kathy Anderson
Golden Ram Metalsmithing


#5

As Always, I will offer my services. Online sales, especially for
high ticket items like jewelry have climb in the recent years. I know
this is the king of the market but Blue Nile for example pulled in
125 million this year alone! And it’s not even over yet.

I think if you have the advertising and the budget, then you can
sell and make a reasonable profit from online sales.

I am a web designer and so far I haven’t too much ecommerce. I have
done one class registration site that has worked very well. This
site, www.cctcinc.org, allows class registration with credit card
processing too. It has worked out very nicely for their set up.

If you ever need help with webdesign/development/ecommerce let me
know! I would be glad to help! www.pharrout.com

Scott
@Scott_Pharr


#6

Hi,

australianopalcutters.com is going ok, we get around 7000
visits or 260000 hits a month. Usual sales amount to 1-2k AUD per
month done via the website, and about another 2-4k via email. Then we
also get some very good leads, that turn into sales of substantial
amounts every couple of months.

We do all credit card processing offline. We were getting a lot of
fake orders but now we have disclaimers etc saying we will chase them
up and report them, the dodgy orders have dropped off to under 5 a
month. About the most annoying problem is with people using hotmail
or other free webmail with full inboxes so we cant send them a
confirmation email.

The most expensive part of the site is the ongoing updates of stock
and other time consuming tasks.

Regards, Paul De Audney Australian Opal Cutters Pty Ltd
http://www.australianopalcutters.com Level 11, 250 Pitt Street
Sydney, Australia


#7

I tried selling two pendants on e-bay some time ago. I had good
pics to go with them although they could have been sized a little
better for the thumbnails. I didn’t have anything fancy set up for
when someone clicked on it for the details. This didn’t seem to
matter though because I only had six hits between the two pieces for
the whole ten days (and no bids.) At the time I was disappointed
but I can’t say I was surprised because doing a search under
"pendants" yielded something like 43,000 of them. The whole time I
was wondering how anyone would find my two pieces among the other
43,000.

I was also unsure of how to determine the most appropriate starting
bid price. Many of the other pieces I saw on e-bay had starting bid
prices that seemed so ridiculously low that they were either
meaningless or that the stuff must just be shlock (to use the
technical term.) I have not tried e-bay again since that
experience. I figured I either just don’t know enough to properly
utilize that outlet or it is not the right outlet for me.

Dale


#8

A few years ago I tried to sell a couple pieces of jewelry with no
success. Even at a price that I was barely breaking even on.
Occasionally I’ll sell cut turquoise cabs on ebay but by the time I
pay the ebay listing fee and PayPal takes it’s chunk there was not
much profit left.

In my opinion ebay buyers are looking for bargains, collectables, or
the odd part for an appliance or car that they can’t find locally. I
do much better selling my work locally on consignment and wholesale.
My 2004 goal is to have enough inventory to do a show or two myself.
And thanks to the Orchid community I’ve gained some valuable
on shows from the veterens. Thanks All!

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
http://home.covad.net/~rcopeland/


#9

Since I haven’t posted anything to Orchid before, a short
introduction: I am an interactive art director and get my living
from designing web sites and anything else related to new media.
Lately, I have fallen in love with jewelry design and specifically
with PMC. Some of my pieces start to look good and jewelry design
seems to take over my life exceedingly. Hopefully, I’ll get to
design my own jewelry site soon.

So, here’s some advice about web sites:

  1. Treat your web site like you would treat your store. It has to be
    well designed, inviting and organized. You want people to come in,
    stay there, find what they are looking for and ultimately walk out
    with a piece or two. If some of your jewelry didn’t sell in a retail
    venue, it most likely won’t sell in the web.

  2. You want people to find your store, so make sure to advertise.
    You need to stand out from the thousands of web sites out there.
    Disappointing experience with E-bay doesn’t mean your jewelry isn’t
    appreciated, it just means right people didn’t happen to click on
    the page. Also, consider what E-Bay’s target audience is looking
    for… mostly cheap bargains.

  3. Unless you are absolutely sure, you can (and want to) manage
    design, coding, e-commerce issues etc. on your own, use a
    professional. Your jewelry deserves it. In the long run, you’ll save
    a lot of time and money when the architecture and coding
    are done correctly from the beginning. You may be a great jewelry
    designer, but interactive design is a different craft.

  4. At the best, your web site can be a wonderful new showcase for
    your jewelry. Unlike with printed materials, it is easy and
    inexpensive to change pictures, modify a description or add a new
    line of jewelry.

Annamari Mikkola
http://www.mikkola.net


#10

Hi, Dale, I suspect that it would be very helpful to use eBay for
buying a few things before trying to sell on it. That way, you would
get the hang of how it works. A couple of things I’ve learned as a
buyer: Things with a really low starting price often have a
"reserve", a hidden minimum price below which the item will not be
sold. This gives the illusion that a bargain may be available when
it may not be. But it would also give the seller about
how much people were willing to bid, without committing to a
low-priced sale. Also, many bidders realize that there is not much
point in bidding before the last few minutes of a listing, because
serious bidders will just wait til the last instant and “snipe”, as
it’s called. I suspect, from being repeatedly outbid at literally
the last second, that there is a program that will do this for you.
Lastly, and this is mostly conjecture, you need to list the pieces
the way people would look for them. People may look for “gold” or
"turquoise" or “artist-made” or “contemporary” or who-knows-what to
narrow the field, rather than be confronted with 43,000 options. But,
bottom line, I can’t imagine that anyone looking for hand-made
one-off or even unusual jewelry would look for it on eBay. But, hey,
what do I know? I do know I’ve gotten some great deals on eBay and
Ubid, and also wasted some money.

–No�l


#11

Hi Kathy,

How about guild.com?  Anyone have experience with them? 

Since no one has jumped in on this, I guess I will. I’ve been with
Guild.com since shortly after their inception and overall I’ve been
pleased with the relationship. It’s certainly preferable to
maintaining my own website (which I don’t have the time or desire to
do at this point).

Since my work is all one-of-a-kind and pretty high end, it tends to
sell relatively slowly (and, in fact, Guild no longer accepts my
higher end work). The Guild.com jewelers who do best are those with
at least limited production lines whose work is suited to catalog
sales and retails for under $500. You may not be aware of it, but in
addition to the website, Guild.com issues 2-3 high quality, mail
order catalogs every year. That’s where the most consistent sales
come from.

Guild.com has been around several years now and weathered a lot of
storms and changes. The result is a pretty efficient organization.
They’re easy to work with, provide various printed materials
(stickers, shipping forms, etc.) and they pay on a regular schedule
(it’s a 50/50 split, by the way). They’re also heavily into
marketing/advertising, which is essential.

You have to be juried into Guild.com and jury schedules are set for
specific dates. Jurying for 2003 is now over because of the
holidays, so if you’re interested you’ll have to wait till next year.

The down side for me is that I have to keep the juried-in pieces out
of circulation or at least consigned to local galleries where I can
get my hands on them fast in case they sell through Guild.com. The
jury process is also lengthy. It can be as long as two months from
the time you submit slides to the time they get posted on the site.
It’s especially slow pre-holidays.

Hope this helps. Beth


#12

Dale, According to a friend of mine who sold gems on ebay for
several years, you’ve got to be prepared to take a loss some of the
time. The really low starting bids are designed to entice bidders to
begin with. Human nature being what it is, competitiveness takes
over, causing bidders to bid higher than they would have for a more
reasonable starting bid. This strategy is commonly used by
auctioneers in live auctions as well. What the seller can always do
to protect himself is set an undisclosed reserve below which he will
not sell the item, and a low starting bid.

Jerry in Kodiak


#13

HI -I also tried selling some jewelry on E-Bay–I think I sold one
piece, but ended up paying more in listing fees. Aside from the
incredible amount of jewelry that is listed, many sellers list their
things in the wrong places (to get more exposure or something), For
example, there is (or was) a category for “Artisan Made Jewelry” and
much of the stuff was imported from wherever, or simply mass
produced commercial jewelry. Secondly, the low starting prices are
really discouraging, and except for some Gold pieces, a decent price
looks completely out of place. I’ve been hoping they would have a
hand-crafted-one of a kind category, but that hasn’t happened.

Sandra
elegant insects.com


#14

Kathy: I too have had dismal results on Ebay. I’ve had only 1 good
sale on a ring to Japan which later resulted in repeat business.
(about $500.00 worth) Since then, I’ve tried several times with no
results, which tells me that the initial sucess was a fluke.

I don’t know about others, but I put up my website mostly for
advertising, not expecting to do many sales online. (although at
first, I will admit I was hoping… but since I don’t have the
funds to advertise it heavily…well, that dream faded rather
quickly… grin) All transactions are handled by Paypal , which I
like for it’s ease of use and flexible configuration options (you
can specify ring size, etc, etc) And I do all the work on the site
myself (which keeps the cost down tremendously) I congratulate Paul
in Australia for the high volume he receives from his site…

Most of the people that I’ve talked to in shows, although they admit
to buying jewelry online, most of the time will tell me that the
deciding factor for them is still to see the piece, handle it, try
it on… ask the boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife etc if they like
it… and so on.

Regards to all…
Bryan Steagall
www.bryansteagall.com


#15

As a seller’s tool, Ebay regularily lists “Hot products.” " ‘Hot
Products’ are those where recent bidding growth has significantly
outpaced new listings growth and where the bid-to-item ratios are
significantly higher than other products in the same parent
category." Updated weekly. Admittedly this is VERY general
This week the list is as follows:

Designer, Artisan Jewelry
Gold, Signed
Other Items
Silver, Signed
Beaded, Lampwork

Remove Ebay Dynamic URL

For a more detailed explanation of their methodology see
http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/holiday/eBay2003HolidayHotlist.pdf

On page 17 in the Adobe PDF file holiday Jewelry hot items and
general trends are listed.

For what it’s worth… If you’re selling artisan jewelry, sign it.
Connie


#16

Hi Beth:

I have seen your work on guild.com and it is very nice. Thank you
for your thoughts on using them.

I make limited production and one-of-a-kind multi metal earrings,
pendants, pins, and rings in the price range you suggested,
$150-$400. Their website looks and runs top notch and the catalogs
I have seen are top of the line as well. They do seem to be
efficient and organized as you said. I had supposed, once juried
in, those pieces would just be put in a box on a shelf until they
sold. My luck would be to put them in a local consignment gallery
then have them sell on the same day guild.com wanted them!

Their next deadlines for jury times are January 15th (jury date
January 27th) and March 15th (jury date March 31st), I just checked,
and they don’t specify the type of artwork they are jurying this
time as they sometimes have. By then I should have completed the
daunting task of getting some decent slides taken.

Do they ask you to rotate work if it doesn’t sell after a certain
time period? As I said in my previous posting, I have noticed some
of the same work each time I have cruised through their many pages
of jewelry.

I do plan on submitting my work to one of the 2004 juries and I will
let you know what comes of it. Thank you again.

Kathy


#17

Hi All, I’ve been Ebaying for about 3 years now, and when it comes to
jewelry, my success has been abysmal, at best. I’ve done fine with
used unclaimed repair jobs from my store, where I’m only hoping to
reclaim my cost of parts and materials, but sales of ‘new’ jewelry
has not been anything I could ever hope to live off of. I have tried
low-end mass produced goods in SS , and 1 carat diamonds , and all
things in between, with no chance of making a profit. If you want
’hits’ to your ad listing, just add the words ‘NO RESERVE’ or’NR’ to
your ad’s title, because thats one of the main phrases used to search
any and all product categories. I’ve charted my counters ,on whether
my ad title says NR or Noreserve vs. a title without those phrases,
and the difference in ‘hits’ or ‘views’ of the ad listing is
incredible! Why? Because Ebay is America’s largest rummage sale, with
shoppers mostly looking to find a bargain and nothing but a bargain!
If you want to place deceptive advertising on ebay, such as ‘genuine
C diamonds’(actually cubic zirconia but not explained fully in the
ad) you’ll do well, but thats not my cup of tea. But there are so
many people looking to ‘get a steal of a deal’ on that venue, that
their greed rules over their brains and they fall for this crap en
masse. When you place ads for true quality items , you will find
yourself overran with bidders and questions from places like
Indonesia, Malaysia, Belgium, etc… which are the most likely
countries to be ‘scammed’ from, if you are foolish enough to ship to
them. I have found that the best items to sell on Ebay are things
that I acquire for free or very cheap, items I might otherwise throw
away,or quality antiques, but other than those items, Ebay is
definitly not the place. Ed


#18

Regarding Kidd’s (of KashmirBlue) recent posting:

Dear Kidd:

Thanks for your recent comments! I especially appreciated your
comment that read “Stand in the shoes of your client. Sending a few
thousand dollars to a ‘virtual’ jeweler is scary.” Very good point!

You mentioned that you “made a killing” selling items at an average
sale of $30 triple key. I’m curious, in your opinion / experience how
has online sales changed in the last one or two years? You wrote that
you “made” a killing (past tense)–are you still making the sales you
once did, or have sales slowed down? If they have slowed down, what
do you attribute it to–simply a general slowdown in the economy, or
simply due to increased competition. I hope I’m not asking too
personal questions, but I’d just be interested to hear more about
your (and others) online experiences.

Doug in sunny south Florida, where sales were finally good in the
mall today and Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown stopped by, but didn’t
B-U-Y :frowning:


#19

Hi Kathy,

Do they ask you to rotate work if it doesn't sell after a certain
time period? 

In all my time with Guild.com, they never asked me to rotate work so
I have taken it upon myself to do so. When I think things are
getting stale and I have new slides of pieces that are suitable for
Guild, I go through the jury process again (and I make a point of
refreshing things before the holidays). Once they post the pieces
that have been accepted AD which can take a while, as I said before
AD then I ask them to remove the “stale” work. This usually happens
twice a year.

I have no idea how Guild works with other people. It may be
different. If there are production pieces that sell well, I imagine
they’re happy to keep the same images around forever. I also suspect
that if you’re not selling anything at all for a long enough period,
they would eventually get around to removing your work or asking for
new submissions. This is pretty much conjecture on my part.

I hope this helps and good luck next year when you submit your work!
It sounds like it’s well suited to their site. Be sure to note (if
they don’t ask) which pieces are production and would work for
catalog sales.

Beth


#20

Web sales is a blessing for us , I do 99.99% of my sales on the Web,
have been for the past 7 years . As the pioneer in Web Sales from Sri
Lanka , it has been an enjoyable experience, My unique selling points
are PRICE , Quality and my English ( he he heee ).

I have a web site mainly for calibrated stone sales and I also run a
weekly promotion to Remind my Customers about me.

Ebay is another success , I do sales for around US $ 1000 per week
on Ebay alone and I have had End customers buy from My gem auctions
on Ebay and order custom made jewelry from them …

All in all I am very thank full for the Internet , it opened doors
for suppliers like us from far off lands to supply direct to the end
consumer.

Ahmed shareek

P.S - Hope to meet you all at the Orchid dinner in Tucson

Crescent gems
http://www.ahmeds.com/shop