There are a number of variables that you have to consider to sell jewelry online safely and effectively. For starters, the online jewelry market is unlike other markets in the e-commerce sector.
The main reason for this is in the value of the commodities which carries a set of risks that aren’t as pronounced with other niches. Knowing your way around these risks can result in huge potential benefits for your company.
Some risks associated with selling jewelry online include:
- Higher level of trust across the entire selling process from payment to delivery.
- Increased threat of online fraud.
- Higher risk of parcel losses and thefts due to poor choices in carriers and packaging. It can be easy for carrier employees to determine if packages contain valuable jewelry if shippers are not careful in packaging.
Here are some ways to help you mitigate risks and sell jewelry online safely and efficiently.
Understanding the Online Jewelry Market
The online jewelry market has seen a significant boost in the last year, growing over 10.7%, with a total estimated value of $71.3 billion in the United States, and over $250 billion, globally. By 2019, this is expected to grow to the value of $407.5 billion.
The surge in online jewelry sales is fairly recent: for context, the global market value for online jewelry sales in 2002 was $2 billion. This was primarily because customers were - understandably - reluctant to invest in the risk of the transition from physical to online sales for such high-value commodities. However, today’s trends have flipped the scene on its head - making online jewelry one of the most competitive, yet profitable, niches for retailers.
Evaluating Jewelry Shipping Methods
The online jewelry retail business is based on very tenuous bonds of customer-brand trust, especially for newer brands. Customer expectations are generally higher and more discerning when it comes to jewelry - a no-brainer, considering the high value of the product.
Retailers have to be equally discerning in ensuring that their parcels reach their customers on time, intact and whole. To put it more accurately: they need to choose a carrier that will do right by them in terms of package handling, transport and delivery.
But, seeing as the actual packaging is in the hands of the retailer, the first line of responsibility falls on you to ensure that your jewelry is properly packed and labeled before dispatch:
- Properly pad and package your jewelry typically using two boxes with padded layers between them
- Be sure to place the return address and order tracking number on the inner box, as a precaution if the outer box is damaged or worse, stolen.
- Take care to not mention anything that pertains to what the box contains.
- Never opt for drop-boxing to ship jewelry. Drop-boxing is a self-serviced method of dropping off an envelope or parcel in a box-like container to be picked up without physically handing off the parcel to a person.
- Most importantly, request a signature upon delivery.
Once the parcel is out for dispatch, it’s up to the shipping company to ensure it all goes to plan, right? Nope. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, after all.
We’ve previously talked about the pitfalls within the shipping industry. When it comes to shipping, even the best known carriers can fail for any number of reasons: delayed deliveries, improper handling, stolen parcels, to name a few.
Opting for Shipping Insurance: 3rd Party Providers
If you sell jewelry online, we very highly recommend you insure the shipments. Now, most shipping carriers like the USPS, FedEx and UPS offer parcel insurance as a value-added service: usually free up to $100, and then require a purchase of additional insurance for values above that amount.
In the case of jewelry, these shipping carriers often have very specific instructions and restrictions, both in terms of delivery regions and product types. So, ensure that you always read the fine print if you’re opting for carrier insurance.
- USPS - Registered Mail
- This option is highly recommended, especially if you’re shipping jewelry. However, you’ll need to declare the full value of the shipment for insurance.
- You can purchase additional insurance up to $5,000, for standard shipping and therefore, it’s advisable to only declare the amount that can be covered by the post office. International shipping insurance has a lower limit of $2,499 of insurance coverage.
- UPS has a coverage limit up to $50,000 through special units of UPS with pre-approved negotiation.
- FedEx doesn’t insure uncut gemstones, only gemstones in finished settings. Spring settings or loose gemstones aren’t insurable, either.
- FedEx has a coverage limit up to $50,000 for those who ship jewelry regularly under the same conditions as per UPS outlined above.
- Third Party Shipping Insurance
- varies in insurance coverage, Cabrella, for example, insures up to $150,000.
Opting for third-party shipping insurance is often the best choice. Third-party insurance companies offer higher coverage limits, typically have less restrictions, and have a much simpler claims process. Paperless claims processing alone saves a huge amount of time.
Pricing is another important factor for shipping insurance. Using a third-party shipping insurance company will allow you to allocate more money towards other areas in your logistics process. Not to mention claims are handled with much better service and timeliness. Take into account third party insurance providers can even offer risk analysis and notifications of potential hazards shipping to certain regions, as offered by Cabrella.
Knowing International Shipping Regulations
Since jewelry is a highly-regulated commodity, international shipping regulations are very specific. Before you ship internationally, here are some things you should know:
- Some carriers may need further approval before sending jewelry overseas: always check the international clearance process carefully for the countries you’re shipping to.
- In some cases, failure to keep proper records pertaining to products - such as the record of origin - can land you in hot water with international authorities.
- If you can, have a local representative in all your target countries to which you can ship the orders to. That way, any returns can be treated locally, and can then be channeled back to you through the right process.
Optimizing jewelry eCommerce processes is a lucrative opportunity with a huge potential for high returns. However, the value of the product necessitates a lot of forethought and foresight:
- Choose the right line of products to sell and establish a niche
- While it seems easier to start with previously established platforms like Amazon and Etsy, having your own business website allows you to have more control over your brand exposure and promotion.
- Drop-shipping and wholesale sourcing have their pros and cons: but wholesale sourcing is more conducive to the jewelry ecommerce space, owing to the level of control on quality and security.
- Shipping insurance - especially for such a high value commodity - should be a given. It’s better to opt for third-party shipping insurance over carrier insurance.