Diamonds and Internet Customerization, marketing, e-business - EN

Rudolphe Hell died at the honourable age of 100 years. Newspapers hardly mentioned it, only on page 10 as a trivial fact.

But it was him who altered our commercial life completely.   He was the inventor of the fax machine, internationally known as “fax” and of the electronic photocopier or scanner.  It swept the market end of the seventies, but nowadays the fax is already out of date and will be rapidly outstripped  in the course of the next decennium.  It is doomed to disappear just as the good old telex.  Our sector is confronted, just as the economy in general, with this evolution.  A new language penetrates us daily.  For some it seems barbarian, but as the Belgian say, we have to live with it.

Internet users are actually (according to IDC) grouped as follow :
Europe 29,8 % before the United States with 29,2 %, the Far East with 19,9 % and than Japan with only 9,6 %.  The rest of the world represents 12,5 %.  With regard to the e-commerce the United States are on top with 43,7 % against Europe with 25,7 % followed by Japan with 15,8 % and remarkable, the Far East with only 6,1 %.

Prospects are that the European internet business now good for 154 billion US $ will grow to 1.500 billion in 2005, on an international level 5.000 billion US $ is expected.  The reason is that the speed of the communication reduces the circular course, transactions are executed per week, per day and per hour.  The entire world becomes accessible.  The efficiency increases so costs decrease.  Transactions become less expensive.  Internet became an opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises.  Terms as “customerization”, customer relation, one-to-one marketing are names that penetrate in international business.   The term customerization was invented by two professors of the university of Wharton in the United States, prof. Jerry Wind and Dr. Arvind Rangaswamy.  It’s a new stage in sales evolution.  In this technique, the client is the central element, now more than ever the old slogan “?????” is very actual now compared to the previous technique that was mass-sale, blind production.  As the Americans said “Sky is the limit”.  The e-commerce has known adversity but now a new wind blows.  In other words, marketing or selling techniques are no longer imposed by the seller (manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer) but by the client.  It are no longer the 4 P’s that are the marketing basis; product, price, promotion, place (distribution), that control the marketing future, a very distinguished evolution develops.

Large companies such as Procter & Gamble, Nike, Samsonite, as well as large distribution companies followed this direction.  The buyer’s name engraved on the girdle of a diamond is an example.  The availability of your collection on the Internet is unavoidable for those who want to survive, adding the new selling technique : the client sees on your website what he already bought thanks to a password.   The client has to be focused on.  Thanks to new techniques the client can be “taken” individually, without important investments for the supplier.  It’s only an adaptation of your software.
The “privacy” element, the protection and confidence of the transactions with every client are
of vital importance.  The client must have a total confidence in the supplier in this field.  The supplier is also obliged to guarantee it.

An other example is the client’s possibility to create his/her own jewel by means of the different elements available on your website.  He chooses a setting, white or yellow gold, he replaces the precious stones according to his taste, being rubies, sapphires or diamonds.  Different models are offered to him.  The models are mobile and he can see them from beside, from above and beneath. 

Message from the jeweller to his client : Sir, last year you bought this marvellous emerald ring (with a picture in JPG), in view that your wife celebrates her anniversary in three weeks we can offer you marvellous earrings in the same quality as the emeralds (with a picture in JPG) or the necklace … 
This technique is already used by large distribution companies.  They send you a catalogue with office material with following message : 6 months ago you bought with us cartridges x for your printer y, today we can offer them to you by the dozen for the price of € z. 

In a one-to-one technique, the supplier has a direct relation with his individual client (always by e-mail), he knows the client’s taste and the purchases he wants to do.  The principle is that you have to be your competitor one step ahead.   Awaken the buying propensity of your client before he even considers it.  In other terms, give him a personal service.  For a jewellery manufacturer it is the jeweller or wholesaler that, in this system, decides on the production line.  The jeweller, knowing his clients, orders before the production.   The period that the client remained passive until the sales moment is over.  In the new selling technique the client participates in the production.   Therefore the slogan of the Antwerp diamond company A.M.C. goes “partner”.  Seeking for the clients needs, helping the client in its choice can by done thanks to e-mail.  

Communication is one of the most important elements in the new marketing techniques.  Every client-jeweller can be followed in its marketing program.  He has the possibility to communicate daily or even more with his supplier.  He also receives the information that he desires; catalogue, price list, models and hot news of the sector.
Distribution is an important factor for the jeweller.  An order has to be delivered as soon as possible.  A client waits months in deciding but once the decision is made he wants to have the jewel immediately, even yesterday if possible.

The problem is partially resolved thanks to shipping-agents that forward valuable transports such as Brinks, Ferrari, Monstrey, Batistoli, Malca.  But other shipping-agents appear on the market and they even are often more competitive on the field of speed and price but the only handicap is the amount that is often limited.  Also the post office and Fedex came into play.  Let’s hope that other shipping-agents as TNT and DHL will follow.  Their weak spot is the security and the control during transport. This leaves much to be desired and that’s the raison that they are not recognised by the insurers.  The jeweller can, ordering by e-mail, decide on the way of transport, choosing the fastest and cheapest company. 

Paying methods, actually strongly simplified for European transactions thanks to the Euro, can go very quickly thanks to Swift.  In spite of the excuses or ravings of bankers, payments can be done in a few hours.  An other efficient system is Western Union where you can, with a password, withdraw cash 24 hours later in whatever country.   A credit card is the ideal method for selling to consumers. 
The supplier’s website is of vital importance.  A survey stated that surfers looking for a product have to find it immediately.  When not found immediately on a supplier’s website because of too much bla-bla or useless pictures they will never visit this site again.  I think that everyone reacts this way.  It is a pity for the supplier who invested a lot a money.  The same goes for publicity letters where the clients has to read half a page of literature before he knows what the letter is about.  80 % of this kind of letters ends in the dustbin.   The best publicity is as a joke, the shorter the better, “straight to the point”.  By turning over the leaves of a magazine announcements that appeal most are those where the image reflects the action, the product or the service.  The text has to be in a telegraphic style, the message has to be short.

You have to know that the eye only registers certain parts of the message.  The website has to be attractive, stopping at an interesting subject for the client and giving him a quick choice in the direction that he wants to go, information, models, prices, stock, etc. 
We are living in a quick world, more than ever the old slogan “time is money” is actual, being before the competitor, the client becomes more and more demanding because he has a large choice.  It is the result of globalisation with pro’s and contra’s.  We are not confronted with a new economy but we have new technologies at our disposal.  Basic business principles are still actual but we have more opportunities now. 
The supplier, the manufacturer, the wholesaler and the retailer, those who do not follow this evolution are condemned to a slow death.  On the other hand, it is a new challenge, a commercial provocation that stimulates us. Our sector is confronted with competitors that use all these techniques.  There are plenty of examples; travel agencies, luxury products (cars, perfumes,…), electronic devices (cameras, videos, digitals, …).  For far to long, our sector remained traditional and conservative.
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