Tanya Nisguretsky, CEO and Founder of New York City’s Virtual Diamond Boutique, says VDB is first and foremost a trading platform that provides jewelry retailers and designers the ability to source and connect with vendors worldwide for diamonds and colored gemstones. Beyond that, the app is sexy.
“The platform is not new, but we’ve created a more innovative platform,” says Tanya, who worked in her family retail jewelry business in New York for over two decades. “We concentrate on making it a platform for retailers, because we are retailers. It’s actually a training and selling tool all in one - and on top of that, it’s visually appealing. It’s sexy, attractive, user friendly. And we should be visual - we’re not selling paper; we’re selling diamonds! Retailers get to show and pre-sell an item to their customers before it gets into the store.
“We are honestly one of the biggest gifts to retailers. When they start with us, the retailers are like ‘Wow!’ They’re thrilled that we’re available to them, because times are changing - foot traffic is down, which makes it important to connect with customers anywhere and everywhere. Retailers can connect with people in their office or outside, at a bar or in a restaurant. Retailers have got to think outside the box, and VDB allows them to do that.”
The app, completely free to retailers, is indeed user friendly and attractive, with vibrant colors and sleek graphics. The user navigates through buttons on a dial to choose shape, carat weight, color, clarity, fluorescence, depth/table, lab, polish and symmetry, cut grade and enhancement. Retailers may search by vendor location and supplier. With all the criteria selected, the user pushes the “Search” button, and a selection of diamonds or colored stones appears, side by side for easy comparison and education. A tap on the image reveals details of the particular stone, along with up-to-date availability. A 360-degree interactive video makes viewers feel like they are actually holding the stone. Vendor information is provided, and the retailer can communicate in real time to that vendor, put an item on hold, make a memo request or make an offer directly through the app.
“It allows better buying and smarter shopping,” Tanya says. “Retailers don’t have to pull out 10 items from a showcase to demonstrate differences. They can have a tablet on the counter and upload the images, using it however they want. It can be an educational tool. They’re engaging how millennials engage - on their phones, etc. It gives them an opportunity to source with the salesperson and to connect on another level, assisting with the process.”
VDB’s matched-pair feature adds a unique benefit for retailers. “If you have a master stone you like, you press a button and it gives matches enabling you to compare two diamonds simultaneously,” Tanya says. “You can see the difference in two stones and why one is more expensive than the other. The retailer has the ability to show the difference in SI1 and SI2, side by side, as well as the prices. It allows customers to make better buying decisions much more efficiently and quickly.”
By pre-programming their own markups, retailers can upload the prices a particular customer will see. They can create collections, putting together as many images as they want for comparisons. They can customize the app with their own logo, change the colors, and use their favorite vendor’s inventory only, then move outside that if they need to. For a nominal fee, they can share their own inventory with other stores.
The VDB app is accessible on Android, Apple and PCs. Making it even more attractive is the fact that it doesn’t cost the retailer a cent. After downloading the app and registering for a username and password, “retailers get access to all of our vendors for free,” Tanya says. “The vendor actually sponsors the retailers. They pay a listing fee while we bring in the buyers. We are in essence providing tools for retailers to keep up with the changing times.”
Young & Aggressive
Although VDB, a member of American Gem Society and Jewelers of America, has been around for only 2½ years, it’s aggressive in the market and subsequently has seen rapid growth as an international platform with 40 employees all over the world. “I was in retail over 25 years, so I understand the business inside and out,” says Tanya, who developed the idea for VDB with two partners. “A decrease in foot traffic led to store closings, and we saw that problem and felt the industry needed something for the retailer. That’s where my heart lies because I understand their problems, their struggles.
“My father is a partner, and we have one other partner from the industry as well. We’re young, but we’ve done a lot. We have 500,000 diamonds on the platform now, which is a big accomplishment in a short time. We’re launching jewelry on the platform. We’re always evolving; a lot of projects are in the works.” Those include VDB Studio - an imaging system for interactive product videos “that eliminates the need for expensive photography equipment” - and also a full-service, cloud-based Virtual Inventory Management System.
“We’re listening to customers and always modifying,” Tanya says. “We work hand in hand with our users to come up with and develop features that would benefit everyone in the trade. We are looking to increase sales for everyone and make the process more efficient and cost-effective.”