In a recent episode of Total Retail Talks, Sean Kell, Chief Executive Officer at Blue Nile, shares future growth plans for the company and how they plan to integrate a seamless physical and digital retail experience.
Blue Nile, the largest online retailer of fine jewelry, has developed a five-year expansion plan to expand their brick-and-mortar footprint and connect with consumers across multiple touchpoints. The Seattle-based company started out as a sole e-commerce site, but then opened five showrooms across the US several years ago.
Now, Blue Nile’s growth plans include strategic initiatives to open physical spaces across the US. They recently opened three stores in Denver, Chicago and Newport Beach, with hopes to open 5-10 additional stores next year. Their five-year plan, however, is to open locations in the top 50 markets across the US. Blue Nile used their data-based metrics from their e-commerce platform and brick-and-mortar stores to pick top markets to expand into. These new spaces will include both mall and standalone stores, depending on the availability of the market.
The jewelry retailer has seen growing performance numbers from their showrooms and physical stores and wants to continue to expand their footprint to offer more in-store experiences and assortments for consumers.
“There is a future for Blue Nile showrooms across the US, and consumers really want to see, feel and touch diamonds and jewelry in order to have access to our great assortment and prices,” Kell said.
The shift to an omnichannel approach has become a prominent trend in retail today – in order to appeal to individual needs. The jewelry industry has been a part of this trend, but in a slightly different approach, Kell noted. The fine jewelry and engagement ring sector has experienced a slower shift from brick-and-mortar to online channels.
Because of this, Blue Nile’s focus has been to provide a seamless integration from offline to online and vice versa – to ultimately provide the best experience between channels, and let the consumer choose their preference.
“(We want to) bring consumers the best of the online world to meet their expectations that they would be getting in an offline world,” Kell said.
A key factor in purchasing decisions is the price tag. Fine jewelry is often a high-end ticket item that consumers put a lot of thought into before purchasing. On average, Blue Nile consumers contact them via store/website/phone 20 times before they make an actual purchase. The experience can be different for each consumer, whether they visit in-store or online first and last, however it has become crucial to create a personalized experience for both channels.
New jewelry shoppers often don’t know where to start when it comes to purchasing diamonds. To help ease this stress, Blue Nile is striving to provide a seamless and integrated jewelry buying interaction that erases all intimidations for the consumer.
Along with a store expansion in 2021, the retailer plans to add to their jewelry assortment offered in stores and online. They will also continue their focus on omnichannel efforts to create meaningful connections with all consumers who shop from their stores.
“The trick is the multi-channel touchpoint – we can be available anywhere they want us,” added Kell.
About Blue Nile, Inc.
Blue Nile, Inc. is the largest online retailer of certified diamonds and fine jewelry. The company offers a superior experience for purchasing engagement rings, wedding rings, and fine jewelry by providing expert guidance, in-depth educational materials, and unique online tools that place consumers in control of the jewelry shopping process. Blue Nile has some of the highest quality standards in the industry and offers thousands of independently-certified diamonds and fine jewelry at prices significantly below traditional retail. Blue Nile can be found online at www.bluenile.com and in its physical Showrooms in Salem, New Hampshire; Long Island, New York; Portland, Oregon; Fairfax County, Virginia; Bellevue, Washington and Lone Tree, Colorado; and new locations opening in Irvine, California and Oakbrook, Illinois.