Gold ATM Machine

2 10 2011

The title sounds a bit weird, but now you can get physical gold bars from an ATM machine instead of cash money. The first gold vending machine that actually spits out gold was presented in (where else) Dubai. But this week I ran in to one in Europe. Now where else than in London, United Kingdom. This is a picture I took of the machine at Westfield London White City Shopping Mall:

GOLD TO GO ATM Machine at Westfield London White City

This surprised me a bit and made me curious if there is a serious business (plan) behind this, or it’s just a good marketing stunt?!

The company that created these gold vending machines is: Gold to Go. And, they seem very professional and serious…

This is what they write on their homepage:

“A simple and brilliant principle: put your money in and pick your gold!

The GOLD to go™ vending machine is an unmanned point of sale. It offers an extraordinary opportunity to purchase gold bars and coins of assured quality, backed by the security of a Swabian Fort Knox® and with the ease-of-use of a vending machine. Prices are updated in real-time. The GOLD to go™ gold vending machine is largely burglar-proof and tamper-resistant. It has an excellent user guidance, which makes it very easy to handle.

geschenkbox-krugerrandIn the standard version, our GOLD to go™ ATM’s are equipped with the following products (alternative product portfolio is possible, depending on the requirements of the respective location):

Gold Bars 1 gram, 5 gram, 10 gram and 1 ounce

Krugerrand 1/10 ounce, 1/4 ounce and 1 ounce

Kangaroo 1/10 ounce ($15) and 1 ounce ($100)

Maple Leaf 1/10 ounce ($5)

All these come in a precious gift box.”

Today, there are already 27 ATM machines installed: 15 in Germany, 8 in The UAE, 2 in Italy and one each in The USA and The UK.



World’s First Watch & Shoe Pop-Up Store

13 03 2011

As you know I love retail, I love watches and I love fashion. One of my favorite shoe manufacturers is the Italian firm: Santoni. This year IWC and Santoni teamed up and the new IWC Portofino watch collection will be supplied with handmade Santoni watch straps. Great synergy and two brands adding value.

Since 2003 Ace Jewelers has an annual IWC Novelty Show in one of ours stores. We are always the first retailer in The Netherlands to present the new IWC show collections, as soon as it has been released by the headquarters in Schaffhausen. So, this year  I came up with the idea  to do really something new and innovative. A new retail concept: we transformed our store, Ace & Dik Jewelers, in to the first watch & shoe pop-up store in the world. For two days Ace & Dik became: The IWC & Santoni Pop-Up Store. See the video for the result:

For pictures, please visit Ace Jewelers Facebook Fan Page: www.ace.am/facebook



Speaking at Emerce eRetail 2011

12 02 2011

Emerce eRetail 2011

As you might know I love what I do and my passions are luxury & eBusiness/Internet… So, you might imagine that I was proud to receive an invitation to speak to my industry peers about these two subjects 🙂

On March 22nd, 2011 I will share my thoughts on Luxury eRetail at the annual Emerce eRetail Summit 2011 in The Netherlands. My subject is: “Luxury & eRetail: Friends or Foes?”.

For additional information and tickets, please visit: www.emerce.nl/eretail.

Hope to see you there.



Ace Jewelers eCommerce Cross-Channel Strategy

26 09 2010

As you might know I am a great fan of everything related to Internet, eCommerce, mCommerce and social media. For our family business, Ace Jewelers, I had the honour to set up our fourth store in 2008: Ace eBoutique. This was the first website in The Netherlands of a luxury jeweler that started selling online. Every since we had a lot of media coverage. Just want to share the newest pic and articles (in Dutch) with you:

Photo shoot by Suzanne Dorrestein of me at Ace & Dik Jewelers for trade magazine Edelmetaal.

Photo shoot by Suzanne Dorrestein of me at Ace & Dik Jewelers for trade magazine Edelmetaal.

Europa Star (Interview about Augmented Reality – PDF in English)

Edelmetaal (Interview about eCommerce – PDF in Dutch)

00/24 Horloges Magazine (Interview about eCommerce – PDF in Dutch)



To eCommerce or not to eCommerce?

1 03 2010

This is my third blog posting on E.Factor about the subject luxury. In my previous blog posting on E.Factor I tried to start a discussion about the definition of ‘luxury’ and present my personal definition of this relative term.

 

In this blog posting I want to discuss eCommerce in relation to luxury, hence the title: “To eCommerce or not to eCommerce?”

It has been a decade since the Internet Bubble and still only a few luxury players fully operate eCommerce Sales Channels. This is beyond my grasp. Therefore I am one of the founders of ILEA – International Luxury Ecommerce Association (www.LuxuryEcommerce.org). I want to start with my own situation/case and explain what made me co-found this non-profit association.

 

I am active as an entrepreneur in the Luxury Industry since 1998 and since that year I have been trying to sell luxury goods via internet (who used the term eCommerce back then?). Without succes… Until last year. With our family company Ace Jewelers Group we had the honor to launch the first authorized luxury ecommerce website in the Netherlands that sells: watches, jewelry, diamonds, sunglasses and accessoires (www.AceJewelers.com). I hear you thinking: “Nothing special about that, even Amazon sells these items for year.” That is correct, but up until 2009 no luxury brand in our industry authorized online sales. All the items that seemed to be for sale online were either: fake, stolen, pre-owned, without warranty or from black markets. Most of the luxury brands (also fashion brands) were opposed eCommerce. Not many brands had a clear answer why, but Karl Lagerfeld – who is the artistic director of Chanel and also designs for Italian fashion house Fendi, a unit of LVMH – said that the Internet does not convey “the unique feel and sophistication of luxury materials, refined tailoring and extraordinary attention to detail found in luxury fashion.” He added that shopping for high fashion required a “multi-sensory environment”. For many luxury companies, the Internet is traditionally associated with cheap knock-offs sold on auction sites. The Internet can make it harder to know who the actual vendor of a product is. “This leads to fears of cheap copies and heavy discounting,” says Bernstein Research luxury goods analyst Luca Solca (Source: Wall Street Journal, 11-2-2009).

 

 

I understand where Lagerfeld is coming from, but if you look at the technological development in the last 10 years and how the society and consumer behaviour has changed, I do not agree. The consumer of today wants: convenience, quality, service and instant satisfaction (at a low price). This is definitely the case for luxury purchases. I agree with Lagerfeld that for high fashion and other physical products consumers will often (not always) will want to feel, touch, see, smell and/or try-on the product before purchasing it. Therefore I truly believe in multichannel retail/cross-channel strategies for luxury brands, the so-called Golden Triangle/combination of: Retail, Etail and Concierge Service (Back-Office/eFullfilment). For some industries I truly believe retail is over (think of travel agents, book stores, video rental stores, etc). But for Luxury Goods/Services (please read previous blog item what luxury is), I don’t believe stores will ever disappear. Never say never, but I do believe the role/task of a store will change. Stores will have to change their function of high speed sales outlet to brand experience centers. I find the Apple Stores one of the best examples.

Going back to our case, like Lagerfeld, most of the Swiss watch brands and international jewelry brands we represent in our stores, were and most of them are still opposed to eCommerce. Ace Jewelers have been online since 1998, but never received autorisation to sell the brands we officially represent online. In 2008 we decided to change our strategy of a pure retailer to a cross-channel (r)etailer. We founded Ace Online and we operated it as our fourth store within the Ace Jewelers Group. We have a dedicated Concierge Service that replies to all e-mails within 24 hours and they answer phone calls and incoming chats on the spot. We do not outsource any service and all staff members are trained within our industry and actually know what they are talking about. The Concierge Service is the bridge between our eBoutique and the physical stores. We truly moved to a cross-channel operation. Next month it is going to be a year that we operate full power… Maybe I will blog about the experiences in a future posting.

Today we can proudly say we are the first and only retailer in the world that can sell IWC watches and Baume & Mercier watches online. We are also the first company in the world to apply Augmented Reality in the jewelry industry (you can try on a diamond ring in front of your own computer). The luxury brands are slowly changing their strategies and experimenting with eCommerce. But, a lot of brands are still very much opposed. Breitling for example strictly forbids us to present even a picture of a watch on our website. This is one of the major reasons for us to participate in the foundation of a non-profit organisation like ILEA. The International Luxury Ecommerce Association was founded to create a Think Tank for everything that is linked to Luxury & Ecommerce. I always summurize it: “We want to turn all the non-believers of eCommerce into believers.” Hereby I want to invite all believer AND especially all non-believers to become a member and participate in this enduring discussion via: www.LuxuryEcommerce.org.

 

 

I want to conclude this blog posting by saying that I don’t believe we should even wonder IF we should progress with eCommerce… The question should be: “To eCommerce or to mCommerce”! Maybe a good title for a future blog posting 😉