Online jeweller Ocappi is offering a service which enables potential customers to try onreplicas of its engagement rings at home. The idea is to remove some of the anxiety andcreate a more satisfying shopping experience for those who would prefer not to visit abricks-and-mortar jewellery store.
How do you encourage online purchasing of luxury items? By offering a free-of-chargehome inspection service, reckons bridal jewellery specialist Ocappi. By allowing customersto try on replicas of its rings at home, the jewellery e-tailer is seeking to make the onlinebuying experience more intimate and personal. The idea came about as a result of a studycommissioned by the firm and carried out by New York University sociologist Dr. Anna Akbari.Results revealed that over two thirds of US Americans polled felt dissatisfied with the usualshopping experience for luxury items of this kind.
The ‘One&Only’ home try-on service
Customers can choose up to six rings on Ocappi’s site, and will then be sent replicas ofthese rings. The service is free of charge, including postage to and return from the customer.Customers can keep the rings for several days before making a decision. The service isintended to overcome some of the psychological barriers to making luxury purchases of thiskind, among them a widespread anxiety about stepping into a major jewellery store. The idea is that in the relaxed atmosphere of their own homes, would-be customers will be able to express their feelings more freely and make up their minds more calmly than when face-to-face with a store sales assistant. Eugénie Briot, Co-Head of the Masters programme in Innovation-Design and Luxury at the University of East Paris, believes that “this is a service that’s very much in keeping with the times.”
Adjusting the jewellery business to consumer needs
However, this approach may well subtly alter the value people tend to put on a piece ofjewellery. A jeweller feels and knows how to convey to his customer a certain respect forprecious stones, which the replicas sent for inspection are unlikely to reproduce. So, might theOcappi service suit only a specific consumer segment – i.e. those who have not been broughtup with a ‘precious stone culture’ but nevertheless have total confidence in the brand?Eugénie Briot takes a different view of things, pointing out that: “These days there are moreconsumers in the segment identified by Ocappi than real connoisseurs of precious stones andjewellery”. She argues nevertheless that “selling first on design and price, with the quality ofthe gemstone as a secondary factor, makes no sense; the gemstone quality is the basis for theitem’s high price-tag.” This is why, according to Marcia Pointon, Senior Research Professor atNorwich University of the Arts and Research Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London,who has authored an authoritative work on the history of gems and jewellery, it is the diamondwhich has since the 1920s, inter alia through effective marketing on the part of diamond dealers, become the most sought-after gemstone for engagement rings.