Purchasing an engagement ring could be a hassle, especially for those who know little about diamonds. Current studies indicate that there are 1.7 million engagement rings purchased per year in the United States (74% of brides, from 2.3 million weddings), with an average expenditure of approximately $2,000 per diamond engagement ring.
With the revolution in connectivity and interactivity through the Internet, potential buyers can learn more about the characteristics of diamonds they intend to buy before going to jewelers. In this case, we solve that very problem of "knowing so little" about the characteristics of the merchandise. People can now learn and gather information before they actually going to their family/neighborhood jewelers to purchase diamonds.
Learning and gathering information on the Internet is not what the online retailers want. They want the learning and gathering process to translate into sales. However, selling diamonds online is not the same as selling books online. People want to see the actual merchandise before buying. "What happens if the brilliance of the diamond shown on the Web is actually lower than in the one I purchased?"
It is the question of how to leverage "high-touch" among the high-end dot-com retailers. While others engaging in low-end jewelry items have been primarily pushing the quantity sold, we struggle to find the right formula to bring these high-end loose diamonds to consumers.
Rocks by Request (RBR) is the answer to this. RBR was established in the Bay Area three years ago, by a third-generation jeweler, Rock Stone. After its three-year operation, RBR is planning to expand its operations outside the state of California. The RBR concept is quite simple, leveraging local jewelers as its "front-end." Through this strategy, RBR answers both "credibility" and "high touch" issues in selling its high-end merchandise via the Internet.
RBR is positioning itself differently in the aftermath of the dot-com bust. While maintaining connectivity, interactivity, and speed, RBR will also "humanize" e-commerce by combining both technology and tradition in diamond retail industry.
In this strategic plan, we describe how to further optimize the connectivity, interactivity, and speed in developing recommendations for RBR's new business strategy.
Our mission is to expand our current 2% market share to a greater portion in online diamond retail. When we look at the diamond retailing industry itself, the current 2% is rather low compared to the number of diamonds sold yearly in the United States. In order to meet the growth criteria, RBR must extend its network of jewelers and strengthen alliances with media and Internet vendors, as well as increase its R&D effort to deliver the latest technology in e-commerce.
Some of the key factors that will help RBR expand its operations include: