Last night, two of my favorite organizations collided in a beautiful partnership. The Metro NY Chapter of the Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA)* and Wix.com held a panel discussion about "Tips to Compete Online". The all-star panelists included jewelry designers Marla Aaron and Alex Woo, Greenwich Street Jeweler’s co-owner Jennifer Gandia, and Wix.com’s Adam Wozney. With questions ranging in topic from social media mastery to methods for improving SEO and brand consistency, the audience of jewelry professionals sat rapt, hungry for more information to improve their digital presence.
Wix was the perfect host for this much needed learning opportunity and the exposure of this easy-to-use website service opened the eyes of many industry members who are in dire need of more hours in the day to accomplish business objectives.
It is not uncommon to read debased accusations against user-friendly technology tools, like Wix, that have been developed to streamline the process of creating a business. An unfounded article bashing easy-to-use online services was included in the recent edition of The Retail Jeweler. What I find extremely problematic with this article in particular is the author's clear lack of background knowledge, experience with these platforms, or even the desire to contact the companies to find out more about their benefits and usability.
From this article and even the panel last night, it is common for those who established their businesses prior to the existence of these services to flagrantly favor the employment of more complicated website coding mechanisms that require most businesses to hire contractors or additional employees. This is the tactic they have been forced to use in the past and changing systems may be hard for them.
I have heard it suggested on numerous occasions that website template services are only beneficial to start-ups who intend to eventually move to “something better”. What is not understood with this theory is that the template service IS the “something better”. With intuitive user services listening to and incorporating user feedback, the platforms are being shaped into what the users need them to be. They provide the instant gratification of a new website and the flexibility to develop and grow your business. I understand (and may agree) that it would be difficult for an established business to adopt new systems after years of operation in a different way, but, by not adopting the latest technology and most manageable interface, I believe there will be much greater ramifications for business growth in the long run.
I am a Wix user and I have been developing my business while working in the Wix New York Headquarters co-working space (for free) for the past 4 months. They have embraced me as a part of their community, holding courses and seminars that improve my website, helping me use their tools and expand my social media outreach. On numerous occasions, they have solicited my feedback as a user. Teams of developers have flown to the United States from their headquarters in Israel in order to host feedback panels and share new developments. Each time Wix employees tell me that my “Wish List” has become their “To Do List”.
I have found that the most beneficial feature about this constantly developing platform is that everything in my business is integrated. My POS, CRM, Invoicing, Web Design, Branding and Marketing Plans all have the same aesthetic and voice thanks to the integration of Wix features, giving me an immediate head-start in creating a comprehensive brand image.
Even for those who do not have immediate access to the Wix Lounge, Wix has proven itself to be incredibly informative and user friendly through the ever-evolving Wix Blog that features tips for survival in an increasingly competitive market. These tips apply to any business owner, regardless of website platform.
The author of the recent Retail Jeweler includes a quote asking, “Are you a web designer or are you a jeweler?” in an effort to influence his reader to focus on his or her “core competency”. This suggests, recklessly, that a person who is a jeweler is only a jeweler. After last night’s panel, which focused on the many hats worn by any small business owner in today’s digital economy, I think the question should be: "Are you a jeweler or are you a business owner?" It is abundantly clear that online platforms and services like Wix offer tools and tricks for stepping into the future. By limiting your vision of yourself and restricting your functions within your own business to a “core competency”, you quickly miss out on the needs for a broad understanding within the luxury market. To enlist a web designer or coder to create your site, you are outsourcing control and speed, inevitably placing yourself at least one step (if not many) behind your competition.
As a CAD artist and opinionated lady, I have written numerous blog articles and I have been interviewed and spoken publicly about the radical effects and necessity to embrace technology . To not do so and lament progress is to pointlessly languish in nostalgia for something that is never going to exist again. Just as passionate as I am about embracing CAD as a medium for creative expression and improving the manufacturing process, so too am I passionate about the need to understand and create a vision for your entire brand as a small business owner.
Technology is changing how business is done. The switch to an easy to manage, integrated website platform is an inevitable evolution that the jewelry industry should quickly embrace. After last night's panel, I am sure the audience members have lengthy "Wish Lists" they would like someone to take on as "To Do Lists"...
*Side note: WJA is one of the best things to have happened to me in the past few years. I have met so many inspiring people through the organization. The group is filled with passionate professionals who are open to sharing ideas, successes, and failures from their own experiences. The jewelry industry is about relationships—not only those that we help our clients celebrate, but also those between us that allow us to better serve our clients. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found an industry family through WJA.
Last night, the Wix team reminded me how amazing WJA is by simply commenting that they were blown away that people walked into the space and hugged each other--competitors, peers, and sellers/buyers alike. My rule since joining this organization has been to talk to at least three new people at every event and I am happy to report that now I don't have enough arms for hugs.