Proposal for Online Business Expansion
A1. Viability of Product
Glace De La Mode is a jewelry boutique located in the heart of Short Hills, NJ owned by three sisters Jenna (jeweler), Stacy (jeweler and designer) and Vicky (handles all business related tasks). Glace De La Mode was established to provide premium looking jewelry at a low cost. The company has been around for more than fifty years and has a great customer base and revenue increases year after year. Glace De La Mode began as a fashion jewelry boutique specializing in what is known as costume jewelry made from non-precious metals. Over the years the company has expanded to include fine jewelry, clutches and small handbags and customized electronic accessories. All the products are manufactured locally by Grace De La Mode. For their shoe collection they have partnered with a shoe designer and manufacture located in the New York City. The company currently has a Facebook page with the company’s demographics and pictures of items in the store and special promotions.
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The boutique has many customers in the tri-state area of Philadelphia, New York and Connecticut. The sisters have experienced great success and are constantly receiving requests on their Facebook page about online ordering, which they do not currently have. Their success however does not warrant a new location currently an online business expansion is a better alternative.
There are advantages and disadvantages with launching an online store for Glace De La Mode for example advantages include:
- Reaching more customers - the company has a large client base with many returning and loyal consumers and have begun to reach customers out of state. The website would generate new clients without the cost of a new boutique.
- Online buying - both new and current customers can benefit from the ability to make purchases online at any time.
The disadvantages include:
- Over exposure - all the productions are locally manufactured by a small staff. Large orders may be difficult to fulfill at a speedy rate.
- Shipping cost - the cost of shipping will be an added expense. Until the company has a great online presence and success they will have to take the responsibility shipping their items.
- Extra expenses - new employees may need to be hired to properly manage the online website, create policies that protect the interest of the company and provide customer support
A2. Current Online Competition
The mission of Glace De La Mode is to create jewelry that compare to Lorraine Schwartz and Neil Lane in style but not in price. Current trends in jewelry usually come from the fashion runways during fashion week as popular red carpets such as the Academy Awards and the Grammy’s; and are featured in fashion magazines such as Glamour, Elle and Vogue. “Gold jewelry demand in 2013 saw the largest volume increase since 1997 as consumers across the globe reacted to lower gold prices…” (Demarco, 2014) The current trends in jewelry are gold and statement necklaces. The price of gold had declined making and many designers are using them in their jewelry. “Rarer than diamonds yet cheaper, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are gaining favor just as sales for diamonds are beginning to show weakness.” (Biesheuvel, 2012) Diamonds are will always be valued however colored gems are becoming more popular and preferred over diamonds as evident of the success of Glace De La Mode and its competitors Claire’s, Icing and Juliette’s Jewels. Like Glace De La Mode all three competitors specialized in fashion jewelry and expanded their collections to include other accessories.
Claire’s is the largest of the three competitors; it is an international company with over two thousand stores. Clair’s target group is teenage girls and offers jewelry, accessories and beauty products. Claire’s has integrated several social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest into their website. Icons for the sites are located on the bottom of the website page, making them visible only if you scroll down the page. Social media is used to promote sales and company products as well as receive customer feedback and on several customer posts you can see Claire’s responses to questions and comments. Customers are featured in many pictures modeling company products. Claire’s use social media to keep their clients up to date with fashion trends. It is clear is who is the targeted group of consumers for Claire’s. Creating an account is optional and is made simple by signing in through Facebook or signing up using personal email. Claire’s offers a variety of payment options when ordering online including PayPal, Virtual Piggy, credit card (Visa, Master Card, Amex and Discover) and Claire’s gift card. Claire’s offer 24 hour customer service support via phone or email. (Information about Claire’s taken from www.clairestores.com )
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2. Juliette’s Jewels
Juliette’s Jewels can be closely compared to Glace De La Mode for many reasons. Juliette’s Jewels is located in Glassboro, New Jersey and started as an online store and later opening a storefront. Like Claire’s and Glace De La Mode Juliette’s Jewels offer fashion jewelry as well as clothes and giftware. Juliette’s Jewels has integrated several social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest into their website. Icons for the sites are located at the top website and are very visible unlike the placement of Claire’s Icons at the bottom. The company started as a jewelry company and expanded. The focus of many of their social media sites appears to be clothes and the target consumer group is women. Social media is used to promote sales and company products as well as receive customer feedback. Juliette’s Jewels appears to have close positive relationships with its consumers as evident of many questions and comments being answered publicly on their Facebook page and many “likes”. To reach their customer service you can call or submit and form. Creating an account is optional and is made simple by signing up using personal email. Juliette’s Jewels offers a variety of payment options when ordering online including PayPal, credit card (Visa, Master Card, and Discover) and money order (must be received before shipment). Juliette’s Jewels currently do not ship internationally, according to their payment and shipping information page they plan to shop internationally in the future. Expanding within the country physically successfully would be a next venture before going international. (Information about Juliette’s Jewels taken from www.juliettesjewels.com )
3. Lia Sophia
Lia Sophia is a unique jewelry company that does not have an online store. Its website and varies social media pages are used to connect consumers to the products and advisors who sell the jewelry and process orders. Lia Sophia features its catalog on mobile platforms iOS and Android; purchases cannot be made online however information is provided on how purchases can be made. Lia Sophia can be coined as the Avon of jewelry. Lia Sophia has integrated several social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest into their website. Icons for the sites are located on the bottom of the website page, making them visible only if you scroll down the page. (Information about Lia Sophia taken from http://www.liasophia.com/regional/home )
A3. Online Marketing Suggestions and Strategies
Glace De La Mode designs fashions jewelry, fine jewelry, electronic accessories as well as small handbags. All the jewelry is customizable. Glace De La Mode has a variety of collections both vintage and trendy. Glace De La Mode provides everyday pieces as well as pieces for special occasions such as proms, weddings and formal events. Glace De La Mode’s current customer base consists of women between the ages of 15-35 in the middle class. The target market is women between the ages of 17-45. A great advantage that Glace De La Mode has over its competitors is offering custom made jewelry. They are known for creating special items for bridal parties and birthdays. Glace De La Mode was featured in a top fashion magazine for creating custom jewel encrusted handbags for a bride’s bridal party. Offering a better online experience would improve customer experience. Customers would be able to create and/or buy jewelry online without needing to visit the physical store. Three online strategies that Glace De La Mode can use to let customers and potential customers know about the changes in Glace De La Mode is e-mail marketing, display ads and google search top hit.
E-mail marketing is cost effective, can be distributed on a large scale and information is passed to quickly to clients. Clients are able to receive the information quickly, change email preferences to avoid preference to their satisfaction and receive special promotions. “The “Q1 2013 North America Email Trends and Benchmarks” report shows that the email nonbounce rate remains strong, at 96.4 percent, meaning that almost all marketing email is reaching its intended targets.” (Minsker, 2013) E-mail marketing has been proved to be successful and increase the company’s client base as well as revenue.
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It is rare that individuals are without their phone for this reason display ads would be beneficial to the company. Glace De La Mode’s brand would reach large amounts of potential clients and increase the company’s branding power as the premier fashion and custom jewelry company. “Branding and direct sales are the reasons why a company pays for online advertising. Branding tries to increase the perceived value of a product/company to the customer; a direct sale advert tries to persuade the consumer to act immediately…” (Brajnik and Gabrielli, 2010) Glace De La Mode currently has a positive reputation and its products are valued, online advertising such as display ads would permeate that image to current and potential clients.
Exposure is very important to creating an online presence along with display or banner ads being the top hit on google search engine would generate traffic to Glace De La Mode’s website. “A brand online can even be "created" by Google itself, through the association created by results in the top three positions on Google's paid and organic results.” (Simmons, 2013) Simple terms like fashion jewelry would bring potential clients to Glace De La Mode’s website. Creating “traffic” to the website would bring exposure by bringing more customers to the company and confidence to the consumer due to branding.
A4. Social Media Integration
Social media has become popular in the past ten years. “Social media carries more weight than ever. It’s clearly not a fad, or a phase. It continues to grow as a habit, and new platforms continue to appear and develop.” (Cooper, 2013) Creating a business page on social media websites is free and similar to personal pages. Glace De La Mode currently has a Facebook Page and owes a lot of its increased popularity to Facebook. The company uses the website to share new products and promote sales. The company Facebook page can be optimized and can also be used as Q&A platform; people can ask questions on the page and receive feedback almost immediately. The company can also use Facebook to connect with people nationally, run special contest, update clients on trends and Glace De La Mode’s take on those trends. Instagram is in another popular social media platform that Glace De La Mode can use to promote and market their company. Instagram can be used to share real life photos of the products taken by the company and those taken by actual clients. The target demographic is women between the ages of 17-45 years of age. 74% of women use social media (http://mashable.com/2013/04/12/social-media-demographic-breakdown/). Seven out of ten women use social media; both platforms, Facebook and Instagram, have no cost to create and/or update, provide free marketing and can expand the reach to those clients and may more.
Biesheuvel, T. (2012, November 15). Maybe Diamonds Aren't Forever. Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-11-15/maybe-diamonds-arent-forever
Brajnik, G., & Gabrielli, S. (2010). A Review of Online Advertising Effects on the User Experience. International Journal Of Human-Computer Interaction, 26(10), 971-997. doi:10.1080/10447318.2010.502100
Cooper, B. B. (2014, July 16). The Buffer blog: productivity, life hacks, writing, user experience, customer happiness and business. The Buffer blog productivity life hacks writing user experience customer happiness and business. Retrieved March 13, 2014, from http://blog.bufferapp.com/10-surprising-social-media-statistics-that-will-make-you-rethink-your-strategy
DeMarco, A. (2014, February 18). Gold Jewelry Is Back In Demand. Forbes. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydemarco/2014/02/18/gold-jewelry-is-back-in-demand/
Lewandowski, D., & Sünkler, S. (2013). Designing search engine retrieval effectiveness tests with RAT. Information Services & Use, 33(1), 53-59. doi:10.3233/ISU-130691
Minsker, M. (2013). Marketing Email Open Rates Jump. CRM Magazine, 17(10), 17.
Simmons, G. (2013, August 27). Ten Tips to the Top of Google. Search Engine Watch. Retrieved March 11, 2014, from http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2066301/Ten-Tips-to-the-Top-of-Google