We’re often asked the same set of questions, often at RJO shows, so it’s time for a reasonably detailed page for jewelers to understand the current market offerings. We write this as our opinion and it reflects our experience in this market (since 1999). We encourage you to ask questions of your potential (or current) provider to verify any of this for yourself. If nothing else, it’ll give you some questions to ask.
VRB Internet Solutions is a custom website designer, as opposed to a website as a service provider. Let me explain the difference.
Jewelry Website as a Service (WaaS).
There are several providers for jewelry websites who offer a “website as a service”. This means that you sign-up with them and use their platform to “build/provide” a site. This is not unlike building a Facebook page, a WIX site etc. Their system is usually finite, in that it has elements you can “plug in”, but rarely provides custom development for only one client/process (or it is expensive).
Think of this as “retail jewelry”. It’ a product on offer that you can buy right now. Like a piece of jewelry in your showcase, you can change out certain elements (think of changing a stone, baguettes, engraving etc.), but essentially, it’s the same thing sold to multiple people.
This is the offering from many jewelry-specific web providers. There’s nothing wrong with this. Indeed, we have a WaaS service – called “JewelConnect PRO”, which we launched in 2009 (before many current providers were even in the game). This is exclusive to RJO, ready to go, and (usually) several times less expensive than the vast majority of other offerings.
- It’s ready to go – quick to set up and usually looks good
- It’s well-tested and is unlikely to have (many) bugs
- It’ll upgrade over time (although this may have a cost – check with the provider)
Waas Disadvantages / things to think about
- Apart from some elements, sites tend to be quite similar – which means you and your competition could be showing the same branding or look.
- You don’t own the site. You’re using a service, not buying a product. If you change providers, you will (possibly) lose your data/URL structure, SEO rankings, etc. (there are ways around this last part, but it’s worth a mention)
- There’s often a (fairly high) monthly cost to continue simply using the system – even after you’ve paid up-front for it. This cost can run into several $-thousands over, say, a 5-year period. If you want services on top, expect to pay more.
Custom Web Design for Jewelers
This is our service. Custom web design is exactly that – custom. We start with a blank sheet of paper and build the site to a specific project brief. If you provide custom jewelry design and manufacture in your store, you’ll understand this concept right away.
We find out about you and your business, the area, demographics, marketing opportunities, sector growth, competition etc. etc. – then build a site to specifically address those opportunities or threats. You can find out more here: Full Service Web Design For Jewelers
- It is designed to a specific brief that is all about you, your store, and your business. There’s no limit to what you can do or your creativity like “plug-ins” or “app functions” are limited (we’ve programmed all sorts of interesting features and systems).
- You own the site. You can host it wherever you like (we can supply if you wish). You are 100% in control of your asset and you can even work on it yourself if you like – it is yours.
- There is zero cost monthly (other than hosting – which every site needs). If you want something done, we tell you how long/much it is and get your approval – or you can do it yourself/get someone to do it. You don’t pay us to do nothing for you (maintenance fees without maintenance)! Up-front costs can be comparable to up-front WaaS service costs and investment is usually less comparatively after 1-2 years.
Custom Disadvantages / things to think about
- It’ll take some time to happen. We take 2-3 months to properly build your site with your input.
- It’s been built just for you so it needs to be well tested. We do this but we ask that you do too (semi-regularly) – it’s a custom site.
- If you don’t want to manage the site yourself (which 95% of stores do not), you’ll need to decide when or if to do maintenance and contact us. We can set reminders to talk to you if you like.
- We don’t do e-commerce. Sorry, we absolutely believe that e-commerce is a strategic error for physical retail stores. Teaching your customers that it’s OK to shop jewelry online is a disaster for client retention and future store growth. E-comm is a totally different business model so forcing/talking you into it with a website model is not what we do. We have (far better) ways around the buying process. If e-comm is your thing – we’re unfortunately not, sorry.
Find out more about why we think jewelry sore e-commerce is a bad idea.
VRB is a smaller, independent, family-owned business and we concentrate on service – you’ll always deal with the same people. Sure, some prefer the larger, well-funded systems with a lot of people etc., but we’ve been doing this for decades and we like our business model – our clients seem to as well 🙂
You can find out more about VRB here