Fred Meyer Jewelers Searches Nearby For Local Shoppers

Nearby Now JewelryJewelry might seem like a tough sell in a down economy, but instead of throwing good money after bad, Fred Meyer Jewelers is focusing on consumers who are actively looking at jewelry products online.

A partnership with NearbyNow, an online marketing services company, is helping the nation's third-largest jewelry retailer to connect with those customers and seal the deal.

"It's clear the retail world has changed -- and the recession is only part of the reason," said David Kohel, director of E-Commerce at Portland-based Fred Meyer Jewelers. "What's key for us is to continually look for ways to leverage trends -- such as the fact that more and more online shoppers want to ultimately purchase in-store. By adding a local search capability, NearbyNow allows us to keep both our online and our retail outlet channels strong."

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Fred Meyer Jewelers, which is part of grocery giant Kroger Co., was looking for ways to get more people who were searching online for jewelry to find Fred Meyer Jewelers products, and then go into the store and purchase. Currently the fastest-growing segment of online shoppers is those who research/search online and then go to a store to purchase, according to a 2008 Forrester Research report.

The jeweler is completely overhauling its online site -- a three- to four-year process -- but in the meantime needs a way to temporarily jazz up the site. Enter NearbyNow, which has helped online jewelry shoppers discover that what they want is at their favorite local mall and they can go get it immediately rather than wait for it to be shipped.

Since NearbyNow powers search in a number of ways -- for shopping malls, Google, Yahoo and other local search and via NearbyNow.com, searchers are likely to find Fred Meyer Jewelers products through one of those channels.

The pickup rate -- the percentage of customers who pick up an item and complete a purchase after reserving products online -- during the first three months increased to a whopping 83%. The in-stock percentage, meaning the likelihood that the local Fred Meyer Jewelers store had the item in stock, rose to 65%.

After this initial success, Fred Meyer Jewelers decided to add NearbyNow's "Find it Local" button on its site, to call out to online shoppers that they can search online and pick up in-store. NearbyNow has its own concierge team that calls stores to verify that an item is in stock, and then emails the customer within 10 minutes to verify. When customers reserve items, NearbyNow is able to collect this information (email address, location, etc.) and provide that to Fred Meyer Jewelers; they can use this info to more effectively geo-target customers.

"While it's difficult to beat the pure-play online jewelers on price, we can cast a wider net by bringing our stores online to compete on service and availability," Kohel said. "If anyone is going to cannibalize our online sales, we want it to be our own stores -- not the online competition. We'll win by bringing the brick-and-mortar play into the fold, and by offering services and localized integration."

The main way users find out about the "Find it Local" button is through search engine optimization. All of the products Fred Meyer offers are indexed strongly in the major search engines.

NearbyNow.com just launched in December 2008 (although NearbyNow was powering search for shopping malls before that) and has been partnering with retailers in this way since then. Fred Meyer Jewelers is leading edge in that it's one of the first to deploy this "Find it Local" solution.

"The 'Find It Local' concept is for the 60% of online shoppers who prefer to see or try out an item before purchasing," said Scott Dunlap, founder and CEO of Los Altos, Calif.-based NearbyNow. "By confirming an item is in stock in their size near them and available for immediate purchase, NearbyNow can set up a sale for a retailer in a way that fully measures the multichannel effect of any campaign."

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