LONDON — Net-a-porter wants to become the ultimate online destination for fine jewelry and watches.After scoring a series of exclusive online partnerships with heritage jewelers who have been traditionally e-commerce shy, including Piaget, Cartier, Pomellato, Tiffany & Co. and Buccellati, the retailer is now set to unveil the Fine Jewelry and Watch Destination, a dedicated part of its web site that will highlight its fine jewelry curation and the company's big ambitions for its hard luxury business."We wanted to have a home for our fine jewelry, just like when you have a brick-and-mortar store and you have a destination for your jewelry curation," said Net's global buying director Elizabeth von der Goltz. "We've had jewelry on the site since 2011, but it was very trend-based. In the past two years, we've been more concentrated on the real jewelry business and we started bringing in hard luxury watch brands. There is no one playing in the space. Customers trust us with high-ticket items and they love how we put them in a fashion context so they appear more wearable, like a true accessory."The company said a focus on growing the hard luxury category was part of the five-year strategy laid out by the Yoox Net-a-porter Group in 2016 and aims to grow the department by more than 300 percent by 2020. As the group's main shareholder Compagnie Financière Richemont — whose biggest strength lies in hard luxury — has launched a tender offer to buy all of YNAP's ordinary shares, it seems even more pertinent for the retailer to invest in the category and forge closer ties with Richemont-owned jewelry brands.Net is also one of the few retailers that does not work with hard luxury brands on concession: "Hard luxury watches really aren’t online if it's not a concession, but we want to be that destination where we have ownership of the business. We choose everything ourselves, we curate everything, it's not owned by the brand," von der Goltz added.The hub will feature new ways of presenting product on the site, such as moving image and video, as well as incorporate content and more styling advice on the shopping page.For von der Goltz, using content to educate customers about high-priced jewelry items is what will make the hub stand out from competitor sites. "Everyone has a navigation where you click and you get to the jewelry and watches section. What we are adding is a whole editorial element, which is what we are best known for. There will be interesting information about the brands to enable discovery, if they're doing a certain launch we will talk about the inspiration of the collection, brands can do a takeover and also there will be educational elements, if you want to learn about diamond clarity or about colored stones, for instance."By launching this new curated space, the retailer aims to attract a broader customer base by establishing itself as a go-to jewelry destination. "Anyone going on the site, not just a VIP customer being reached out by a personal shopper, can now see that we are in that world and discover tips on how to wear those high jewelry pieces. I think jewelry can be intimidating sometimes and a space like this really makes it fun. It’s an accessory now, even in the case of luxury watches, women are wearing different watches with different outfits. Shopping through us makes it easier to do that versus always having to walk into an intimidating store."It will also offer an opportunity to further service its VIP customer base — dubbed EIPs, or extremely important people — with one-of-a-kind items."Our EIP customer, which is our most engaged customer, is definitely buying these high pieces, we were just not offering them in the past," von der Goltz said. "We now want to show that we're really seriously in this business and we can find things for her. Because there are customers in the world who really are just looking for things that are very unique, special, one of a kind, whether it's from a design standpoint or from a stone standpoint."The retailer also plans to introduce additional features later in the year, to enable more off-line sales of very high-priced, unique pieces to EIP customers, who are said to generate up to 40 percent of the company's revenues. The hub will be used as a discovery platform, where a customer can look at imagery and read information about a piece, before making a private appointment to view it."What makes us stand out is that we're willing to bring the piece to you and have you try it on and wait for you," said von der Goltz, referring to the retailer's enhanced personal shopping services introduced last year, where EIPs can receive orders at home and have personal shoppers wait for them to try them on and pick up any unwanted items. "With those higher pieces that personal touch and trust are still needed. You can have a lot of online players, but in this world because of the need for quality control, we want to be that destination that when we deliver a purchase it is in perfect condition and customers know that they can send it back, we can get it fixed for them, get a new strap, offer all those services."As the hub grows, more launches are also in the works, with the retailer aiming to engage both "big name brands that everybody knows and loves" and smaller independent labels.
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