New York, NY—Although jewelers list online competition as one of their top challenges, a nationwide study by Citi Retail Services showed jewelry consumers still overwhelmingly prefer to shop in a brick and mortar store (left: shoppers at Borsheims in Omaha, NE.) The Citi study found more than two thirds (68%) of respondents said they’d rather shop for jewelry in a brick-and-mortar store, compared to 12% who said they’d prefer to shop for jewelry online, a nearly four to one margin.
The Citi Retail Services survey also found that more than one-fourth of jewelry shoppers (28%) will make use of financing options when they’re available. Consumers indicated they would be most likely to finance a jewelry purchase for a major milestone event, such as an anniversary (43%), wedding (34%), engagement (34%), graduation (15%), and a new baby (12%).
Jewelry shoppers also are more inclined to spend when they’re in a store than browsing online, the survey found. The average dollar amount reported for the most expensive in-store purchase was $2,269, more than double the $1,099 average for online purchases.
And Citi’s findings underscored that the self-purchase trend is in full vigor: among respondents who purchased jewelry, 50% said they bought most of or all their jewelry themselves, vs. receiving it as a gift. For Millennials, that figure rose to 57%. But gifting still matters: more than half (58%) said their favorite piece of jewelry was a gift, either from a partner, family member, or close friend.
Fit, looks, and delivery. While online purchasing offers convenience, nearly half (44%) of shoppers surveyed by Citi prefer the physical experience of being able to inspect and try on their jewelry in-person before buying—especially if they’ve had bad experiences online in the past. More than one-fourth (27%) said a piece of jewelry they bought online looked much different once it arrived than they’d expected from the digital photos of it. 19% experienced issues with fit once the piece arrived, and 14% ordered jewelry that didn’t arrive in time for a special event.
“As jewelry is such a personal item, buying in-store largely provides consumers with the confidence that comes after physically viewing and handling a product,” said Leslie McNamara, chief marketing officer and head of workforce development at Citi Retail Services. “Also, consumers indicated the value they derive from interacting with employees while shopping, which is an ideal opportunity for retailers to discuss financing options, which over a quarter of consumers are likely to use.”
She also emphasized the need for retailers with an online presence to ensure their photos and descriptions are highly detailed, and that they offer an option for expedited shipping.
In addition to having a chance to discuss financing options, 28% of consumers indicated a strong preference for additional jewelry services in the store, including complimentary cleaning, or polishing and removing signs of wear (49% said they appreciate that!), styling assistance (16%), and leasing or rental programs (6%).