I’ve been fascinated by the luxury space for a while now, and have been looking to invest in a luxury startup. Obviously, there have been a few notable successes in luxury ecommerce, including Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi and Yoox, to name a few. But overall, the luxury space has been slower to adopt technology and create compelling online experiences that meet or exceed their offline store experiences.
My personal take is that it’s still early days for luxury, and we’re just now seeing luxury brands starting to maximize ecommerce, mobile and social buying. Luxury apparel and accessories brands have built their own ecommerce experiences, but participating with full price aggregators (Net-a-Porter, Neiman Marcus, Moda Operandi, as well as newer players like Orchard Mile) has been critical to brand building.
I found it interesting that fine jewelry hasn’t gotten the same attention from luxury online aggregators. Why? Because it turns out that fine jewelry is a hard business and very different from luxury fashion. It is a huge industry ($264b annually) made up of a few brands that have huge marketing budgets (Tiffany, Cartier, etc.) but only make up 12% of the total. And the rest are independent local boutiques and sites. Not to mention that about 60% of fine jewelry purchases are gifts (think bridal, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, birthdays and more). Online sites that currently sell fine jewelry like Net-a-Porter rarely appeal to the man buying a gift for a significant other. And buying an expensive jewelry gift is a very different purchase process than self-purchase of a handbag or a jacket.
Which was why I was so intrigued when I met Jean Poh, founder of Swoonery, last fall. Jean told me about how she was building an online fine jewelry aggregator that uses a guided shopping experience based on machine learning to help shoppers buy a gift or self-purchase. And since Swoonery doesn’t hold any inventory (which can be the kiss of death for high price point items like fine jewelry), the business model made a lot of sense to me. When she told me about her vision, I was hooked and made an investment pre-launch. Swoonery launched on Sunday and I can’t wait to see how it shakes up the fine jewelry market. Check out the site at www.swoonery.com and let me know what you think. And btw, Jean was kind enough to share a discount code, in case you’re tempted – check it out below.