If you attempt to set up an e-commerce jewelry website without a dedicated monthly budget you will set yourself up for disappointment. Not failure, but very slow progress and low sales.
That's a bit blunt, but e-commerce does need to be treated like a separate business entity with its own expenses and even employees, or at least an employee that spends a lot of time in front of the computer managing it.
The big players in our industry have established a strong foothold in e-commerce selling. Kay, BlueNile, JamesAllan, Zales, Tiffany, and a few others have the deepest of pockets of advertising dollars to beat out all the local retail jewelers.
If you want to have a jewelry e-commerce site you need to navigate your way through the variables of setup, monthly maintenance, and monthly marketing. Some of the variables you need to deal with include bank fees for online credit card processing, security, and making sure your website software keeps current.
We mention the software because during the past 6 months, many hosting companies phased out older versions of PHP which caused a few malfunctions in WordPress, Joomla, and a few other content management systems.
When you run an e-commerce site, you seriously need to keep abreast of software changes because one small newly discovered bug could mean the difference between your site having Fort Knox security or gaping holes that let all the animals out of the zoo.
Your marketing tactics will make or break your e-commerce website. Social is going to be a big part of your branding, but don't expect to make money from thousands of Likes on Facebook, or Followers on Twitter, or Circles friends on Google+.
Many experts claim you can become profitable from social media buzz. Our research just doesn't add up to these claims. We'll have more social media data available at the JCK Show in June.
In 2011 the Google AdWords team published a report showing that paid AdWords marketing could increase a website's traffic by nearly 890%. That percentage sounds really good, until you find out that, as a jewelry store, you would need to spend at least $2,000 per month to achieve that.
Unfortunately, when it comes to AdWords there are other factors stacked against you too, like the fact that Google has made it very easy for anyone to set up an account, pay money, and attempt that 890% traffic increase. Except boosting 144 daily visitors to 1282 visitors doesn't mean you will have sales.
You really need an AdWords expert to manage your campaign, which of course means spending more money.
By now you're probably thinking we're nuts to slap you with all this blunt information. Seriously though, when you hire a web programmer they will not tell you that jewelry e-commerce is a very tough business model for a brick and mortar store to attempt.
It's tough simply because it truly is a second business that needs just as much management, marketing, and all around TLC as your first business. We'll go further: not a second business... an equal business.
If you truly are committed, then do it... but please do it with the assumption that you may not break even the first year because there's a steep learning curve you need to get through.