Blue Nile CEO Diane Irvine says she wants to be "a disruptive force" in the jewelry industry, and she just may have the killer app to do it.
A sneak peek at a new app that Blue Nile will debut at the Applestore in about a week shows the online jeweler really knows its customer.
The app has elements designed to appeal to both women and men, and gives the tech savvy a powerful tool when they go shopping for a diamond.
Blue Nile's pitch has always been that they can offer customers an average savings of between 20 and 40 percent because they don't have to support the cost of physical stores, spend little on marketing, and aim to sell a high volume of jewelry at a lower mark-up than many brick-and-mortar jewelry stores.
The model appears to be working well for it. While other jewelry stores have been closing down or filing for bankruptcy, Blue Nile reported a 9.7 percent increase in its second quarter.
The average Blue Nile customer spends about $6,000 on a diamond ring, but the company has sold a diamond worth as much as $500,000 this year. No doubt when you're spending that much, you do your research.
The Blue Nile app offers a quick way to set your specifications for a diamond—things like cost or the cut of the stone—and see what price Blue Nile is asking. There is also an education component that teaches customers what to look for in a ring.
Irvine imagines men sitting a jewelry store, and scanning their iPhones or iPads to compare prices right there at the store, and she thinks she'll win the business.
"It's a smart way to shop," Irvine says.
She's hoping price will make the difference. "What the stores need to sell is the romance, that you really need to see the ring," she says.
But she claims you don't.
As for the women, the app has a "dream box" button that allows users to view the latest rings Blue Nile is producing and see what ring settings customers are selecting and the price of the diamond in the rings shown. After viewing a ring, users can shake to see another ring, share the ring with their friends on Facebook, or send a picture of it by email. (Subject line: "Nudge, nudge, I want this one.")
The pages also have a call button, which provides a direct link to Blue Nile's call center.
Irvine says the apps are essential because traffic on its mobile site, while still a small part of its overall Web traffic, is growing very rapidly.
Irvine is hoping the company can release another app in time for Christmas that will provide the same type of detail for its other jewelry products. But for now, this app is available for its diamonds only, but it's a wise choice, as engagement rings make up about 70 percent of Blue Nile's revenue.
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