Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: The other side of the Internet

The Retailer’s Perspective: The other side of the Internet

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Last January I made the decision that 2012 was gonna be the year that I got on the internet bandwagon and stayed there.  Well, I got on the bandwagon, and I stayed there, but was it worth it?  Yes.  But, it’s still a tangled web to unweave.

In this day and age, the internet is just a necessary evil that all business owners have to live with on a day to day basis - whether we want to or not.  Over the course of the last year, I’ve become quite the website snob.  I see so many companies with websites that are horrible.  Either the writing is bad, the photos are crap, or they are so hard to navigate that I just move on to a competitor, swearing I’ll never let my websites get like that.

It’s become quite a challenge for me because I have a bunch of websites to maintain.  I’ve divided my websites into two categories.  One side of the equation is the ‘information’ side.  And the other is the ‘selling’ side.  I’ve pretty much got the information sites looking good and doing their job.  It’s the selling sites that I’m struggling with.

One reality we all must face today is the fact that any new potential customer is going to check out your website before they come into your brick and mortar store.  If your website sucks, then your company sucks.  Period. 

On the information side for my retail store I have www.AnthonyJewelersNashville.com.  This is the website that gives my company info and the basics.  Who we are, where we are, and how to contact us.  This website doesn’t change that often, but it probably should.  I mostly use it to provide links to my other sites.

Then, there’s my ever changing website www.ConsignmentJewelryNashville.com that is always featuring new merchandise and is updated several times a week.  A year into it, I’ve got the updating process down to a science.  I can take a piece of jewelry, photograph it, videotape it, upload it, and post it on this website in less than 10 minutes.  This is the website I want my customers to keep checking to see what’s new.  But, I need to figure out how to reach out to them when something new gets posted.  Like I said, it’s a tangled web to unweave.

Then I have www.CMKCompany.com, my website that’s used for my wholesale trade accounts across the country.  This website is an information only website that has my wholesale price list and how to get in touch with me.  This website only changes when my price list changes.  I like this one the best because it never changes and requires the least amount of work.  Usually, it’s just a place to put my phone number so all of my readers can call me with an oddball problem.

Then there’s www.ChuckKoehler.com.  I only have this one in case someone googles my name - and I got it before that other Chuck Koehler!  This one is a breeze to maintain as well since it’s just a one page website with links to my other websites.

And, don’t get me started on Facebook!  Every time one of my websites gets updated, we also update our matching Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.  But, in all honesty, it’s a standardized, routine set of procedures that keep the information current. 

Up to this point, a year later, I’m doing pretty well with all of my internet impressions… which brings up my shortfall:  Selling on the internet.  That is something I just haven’t figured out yet.  And, the clock is now ticking because I’ve just launched a new company that was designed to be an ‘internet only’ adventure.  Yikes!  I’m screwed and I need everyone’s help.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Touched Impressions, or more appropriately known as www.TouchedImpressions.com. 

For starters, let me tell you about the name of the company.  For anyone considering launching a new company or a new product, before you get too invested in the name, check to see if the domain name is available.  Touched Impressions was not my first choice of names.  The first choice, Eternal Touch, had a cyber-squatter sitting on the domain name and they wanted almost $5,000 for it.  Thank heavens I realized this before I’d invested a lot of money in that name.

A few of us sat around one Saturday afternoon and started playing with different names before we found one that sounded cool and the domain was available for $8.99.  And, since I was paying for it, that was waaay better than $5,000. 

Next, we built the website using Weebly.com which was free and easy.  I recommend it highly for anyone building their own website.  Then, we set up the paypal/payment option, took a bunch of photos and videos, built a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, and now… I’m stuck.

I spent almost a year and a half developing the product, and spent all of my time and energy on the technical side.  Now I wish I would have been thinking marketing all along the way.  Oops, my bad.  But, the time has come and I need lots of opinions from all the readers out there about how to pull off this internet business plan?  Here’s what Touched Impressions is all about:

The product is taking a person’s fingerprint or a baby’s footprint from the birth certificate, and incorporating it into cool pieces of jewelry and wedding bands.  The plan is two-fold:

On the retail/public side, I want customers to find me (how?) on the internet and order the product.  I’ll send them a fingerprinting kit, they’ll e-mail me the prints, and I’ll make the jewelry and send them the finished product - all without ever seeing or talking to each other.  I just want to check my paypal account every morning and smile ear to ear.  How the heck do I reach these customers?

On the wholesale side (which is every one of you out there reading this), I want any retailer, jewelry store, boutique, wedding shop, or hardware store… I don’t care, to be able to virtually carry my product.  I’ve built a separate website, www.FingerprintJewelry.biz that is a collection of the pieces I’ve made over the last year and a half.  It doesn’t have any connection to my retail website so retailers across the country can show this to their customers or link it to your website to virtually carry the product in their store.  I’ve also set up a separate pricing structure for my wholesale clients.  Now what?  Is that even a good idea?

Now comes the part I’m not very good at.  Making it make money via the internet without spending a lot of money.  Hmmmm.

I’ve got a lot invested in this product, and every person that has received a piece of jewelry with their loved ones ‘touch’ on it, cries - every single time!  But it’s tears of joy.  Now I need help from all my peeps out there.  Without spending a huge amount of money (which I don’t have) on an advertising campaign, how would you get the word out?  I’m fortunately in a position to ease into it since it’s just an add-on product to everything else I’m doing and not desperate to make it happen NOW.  I’m just kind of stumped on what to do next and any help is going to be greatly appreciated. 

Thoughts?

If anyone has an idea or knows what I’m missing, please write to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and we’ll publish your response so other jewelers out there can benefit as well.  Now find me on Facebook and ‘like’ me!

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide.

If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
 
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