If at first you don’t succeed…

So apparently online jewelry business is one of the hardest businesses to get up and running unless you find a nice niche. After running at loss for a while and struggling to make any sales we decided that the lessons have been learned and it’s time to close the business.

It was definitely fun! I’ve tried to collect some useful experiences from this round:

  • Know your market. So obviously low-end jewelry market has heavy competition, and the race for the bottom price is tough. Buying cheap trinkets from China by the shipping container and selling them at bulk rates makes for a good volume business, but that’s not something we wanted to do. So we put price point higher and ordered hand-picked jewelry from Thailand. Unfortunately…

  •  In the internet, no-one knows you. We had no brand, no references, no credibility and thus no trust. No-one wants to buy a $50 silver earring from a fly-by-night website when dozen other similar websites are selling similar-if-not-quite-as-good earrings for $5. People can buy the $5 earring at risk, but not the $50 one.
  • It’s not enough to be prettyWe invested a lot of time into making our website look professional and polished. Compared to our small competitors, I can easily say that we were in the top 20% if not better. In usability, attractiveness, ease-of-use and just plain prettiness. Unfortunately the point about trust still holds, and because of our price point we were competing with Kay, Zale etc. and besides having better trust factor, they were even more professional, usable and pretty.
  • Find your niche. “Silver jewelry” is no niche. It’s a category, and a big one at that. “Organic spider repellent” is a niche.
  • Sell just one or two items. Or sell at least hundred. Either specialize (“organic spider repellent”?) or go for wide selection. Offering five types of jewelry with 3-4 different items from each category is annoying to maintain, but looks anemic compared to the big competitors. It looks like you tried, but didn’t quite make it.
  • Be pretty. It might not be enough, but it’s still important. Good photos, professional writing, clear graphics, harmonic colors make the store look like a reputable business.
  • Outsource. I cannot draw for the life of me, so I used Elance to get graphic designers for cheap. Just don’t go for the cheapest one, and know what you want in advance. Same goes for writing good copy. I’m not native English speaker, and while I can write, it shows.

… and many more, but I felt those were the most important ones. RIP Silverfire Jewelry.





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