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No more online certs at James Allen

the_mother_thing

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
Messages
5,606
Well-said @yssie :clap::clap:

My company’s goal - when it comes to customer service - is to do whatever we can to make it easier for our customers to do business with us. As I am also a customer of my employer, it’s an easy philosophy to live & breathe, and it’s a philosophy I find myself looking for in the people & places I choose to do business.

This new approach by JA to remove lab reports and important information related to the very product they’re trying to sell ... does not make it easier to do business with JA; rather, the opposite.

It’s like looking at a restaurant menu and seeing a looooong list of unique entrees with no descriptions of what is actually in each entree. I don’t eat at those places because they withhold decision-making information from me as a consumer; and I won’t buy from nor recommend businesses that operate that way.
 

the_mother_thing

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
Messages
5,606
So, you're also doing this on colored diamonds? I think that may be an especially bad thing. When I was looking for a green yellow diamond, I looked at several sites, James Allen being one of them. Yellow diamonds often seen to have a green undertone in your photos, and I would click on the GIA report of one that looked green yellow only to find it was just yellow. And then there's the issue of fluorescence in colored diamonds. I was specifically looking for a fancy intense green-yellow diamond with strong or very strong green fluorescence. I wonder how long I would have been on the phone looking for that, particularly in a specified carat range?
Yep, there were two colored diamonds I was also eyeing on JA’s site in addition to my 5th stone contender. I checked both this morning and the reports are now gone; consequently, they’re off my list now as well. Combined, these three diamonds were around $14K.

But on the bright side, I traded messages today with a lovely sales assistant at BGD about 5th stone contender, and I contacted her after viewing the lab report, diamond specs, ASET, IS, and H/A images, all of which were readily available for me to view and decide if I wanted to inquire further about the diamond or not.
 

Demon

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
467
Yep, there were two colored diamonds I was also eyeing on JA’s site in addition to my 5th stone contender. I checked both this morning and the reports are now gone; consequently, they’re off my list now as well. Combined, these three diamonds were around $14K.

But on the bright side, I traded messages today with a lovely sales assistant at BGD about 5th stone contender, and I contacted her after viewing the lab report, diamond specs, ASET, IS, and H/A images, all of which were readily available for me to view and decide if I wanted to inquire further about the diamond or not.
And that's the way I'd prefer it, certainly. What I was looking for was not 'typical' for them I'm sure, but I really don't like talking on the phone at all, let alone to a salesperson for who knows how long it would have taken to find what I wanted. Let me have the info I need to narrow it down myself, and then if I need to email or call, fine. And while I like the video's, in a case like mine they just aren't even close to enough information.
 

i_want_sparkly

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 10, 2018
Messages
28
There is a large audience, however, that does not find PS - and often does their diamond selection based only on charts of proportions or other information they find on Google. By emphasizing the way a diamond looks (through our videos) and demphasizing proportions, our intent is to help those customers buy better cut diamonds. It's not so different than when PS advises people to request an IS or ASET. You're telling them to evaluate the diamonds visual performance - not the specs on paper.
Is James Allen going to provide videos of the diamond in all lighting conditions? The single video provided hardly seems sufficient to let an uneducated consumer decide if a diamond is going to sparkle!!

I suppose this entire plan will work beautifully for the consumer, if the sales associates are as educated as the lovely folks on PS and will tell the consumer if a diamond is a dog, but I doubt it considering my own experience with sales associates :).

Another thing that we know about our customers, however, is if they interact with our Customer Service staff, they are 10x more likely to make a purchase than someone who just browses the website unassisted.
Maybe the people who speak with Customer Service staff are the people who were already 10x likely to make a purchase? I obviously don't know anything about your data, but it seems highly possible the causal relationship is reversed.
I browsed the James Allen set all the time when I was searching for a diamond and I never talked to customer service because I was never ready to pull the trigger.
 
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Wewechew

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 8, 2017
Messages
1,765
James Allen and Signet have not gotten where they are without having some amazing business minds steer the company. Trust me, they took all these points into account before making this decision. They looked at the data, and after analyzing everything they decided to completely revamp their business model and target customer demographic. I am very curious to see how this works out for them.
 

Laila619

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 28, 2008
Messages
11,523
James Allen and Signet have not gotten where they are without having some amazing business minds steer the company. Trust me, they took all these points into account before making this decision. They looked at the data, and after analyzing everything they decided to completely revamp their business model and target customer demographic. I am very curious to see how this works out for them.
Agree. It's a little presumptuous of us to tell @YoungPapa how he should be running his company. We may not agree with these new changes, but they were implemented with a lot of research, studying the demographics of the average JA shopper, habits, buying and return patterns, etc.

JA is no longer going to appeal to many PSers, but that's okay. There are still the usual favorites who, luckily, provide a wealth of information.
 

yssie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 14, 2009
Messages
19,813
James Allen and Signet have not gotten where they are without having some amazing business minds steer the company. Trust me, they took all these points into account before making this decision. They looked at the data, and after analyzing everything they decided to completely revamp their business model and target customer demographic. I am very curious to see how this works out for them.
All industries have tales of large, successful entities failing to adapt to new demographics, or choosing to revamp in (foreseeably) unsuccessful ways.

It doesn’t sound like too much thought went into this shift, to be honest, judging just by @YoungPapa’s air of “we’re trying something radical to see what happens”.

I certainly agree that it will be interesting to see what the intended market makes of this!
 

srke

Shiny_Rock
Joined
May 10, 2017
Messages
110
I can understand removing gia numbers, if JA were seeing people using their site for the imaging and then going somewhere else with a better price for the purchase. That might be saying something about the competitiveness of your price, but I can understand being annoyed at having invested in the infrastructure people appreciate without getting the sale from that service.

I think I would have no problem had you removed access to the certificate itself but provided that data to the consumer on your website instead. I would be happy to see a diamond's proportions and other characteristics listed on your website instead of viewing the actual gia certificate. But to make that data completely unavailable to a consumer unless them jumped through hoops just feels like you're trying to hide something. It basically feels like you're going towards the experience someone would get in a mall store, where the moment you make any sort of enquiry, the hard sell gloveswill come out.
 

whitewave

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
8,228
@srke that is something I have been thinking of. I have bought my open bezel band from James Allen, but not a diamond. I have looked at diamonds. I have helped people find diamonds on JA.

Here are my thoughts fwiw:

JA has excellent images. Their prices are ok. Their upgrade policy is the pits. Their customer service is on the bad side in terms of knowledge and actual help, imo. The box I received my $400 ring in was completely over the top, unnecessary and went into the trash.

Maybe put engagement rings in the giant box and lesser items in a much smaller, more cost effective box and cut prices on loose diamonds.

895C500C-4782-4C0C-8C8B-B5F5629CFD6A.jpeg
This is the band I bought. The box was crazy over the top ridiculous for this band.
 

the_mother_thing

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
Messages
5,606
@whitewave My open style stacker/spacer band (~$575) came in one of those big fancy boxes as well; very unnecessary IMO and more appropriate for an ER or >.75ct loose diamond purchase perhaps.
 

hmr_mama

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Dec 15, 2009
Messages
431
James Allen....where "clueless dudes" of the world unite. Not a bad business model, actually. Although there is some shift, engagement rings are predominantly purchased by men. In my experience, men are more inclined to make a phone call and/or wait in line. Women are not. We are busy...running a business, running the children to and from different activities, running...always running. My husband and I run a business that is patronized primarily by men. I have literally seen men wait in line 30 minutes to get work done at our business. My husband sees nothing wrong with this...and neither do his customers! It boggles my mind. I would never wait in line that long for ANYTHING. And I won't wait on hold to buy a diamond either.
 

kmoro

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
1,076
Actually, to have a price match policy and then conceal the report numbers does less than impress me.

So what if a few consumers are savvy enough to find the same diamond for less on another site. I bet this doesn’t happen in the majority of cases.

If they don’t want people to price match because of their investment in the good images, they should remove the price match policy and just post the reports with certificate numbers, imo.

In other words, they are trying to turn their own policy into junk. A policy for optics only.

(I actually like the presentation box, lol)
 

Wewechew

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 8, 2017
Messages
1,765
Actually, to have a price match policy and then conceal the report numbers does less than impress me.

So what if a few consumers are savvy enough to find the same diamond for less on another site. I bet this doesn’t happen in the majority of cases.

If they don’t want people to price match because of their investment in the good images, they should remove the price match policy and just post the reports with certificate numbers, imo.

In other words, they are trying to turn their own policy into junk. A policy for optics only.

(I actually like the presentation box, lol)
The entire wording of the price match policy is also very slippery.

#lessthanimpressed
 

AprilBaby

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 17, 2008
Messages
10,145
I hate talking to customer service. 99% of my purchases are made from internet research, not actual conversations.
 

amoline

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
218
Unfortunate but doesn't surprise me.

We'd all do well to remember that -- for better or worse, whether we like it or not -- PS must be a small, small fraction of JA business.

A vocal fraction, as seen by us here. But a tiny one nonetheless.

One of my favorite cars is the Subaru Forester. Just this model year, they stopped making a manual transmission available. "Many" people were very upset and vocal about it. Actual data shows that of Forester owners, something like 1% of people own the manual and the others the automatic. It makes more dollar sense (maybe not service sense) for Subaru to tell the lovers of the manual to bug off and find a different car they like than to keep making it.

And, I suspect it will be similar for JA. It will make much more dollar sense to tell the PSers to politely shove it where the sun don't shine.

That really sucks. And I don't like it or agree with it at all. But at the end of the day, money talks, and clearly losing the (vocal) minority of PSers has been deemed a worthy gamble for whatever it might gain JA.

Sucks. But it's the kind of decision that gets made in a multi-hundred-million dollar company's business.
 

DiamondsAndDior

Rough_Rock
Joined
Feb 12, 2019
Messages
62
PS must be a small, small fraction of JA business.
I feel like PS can’t be just a tiny fraction... any time I google a question I have regarding diamonds, PS posts show up on the first page. That’s how I found out about PS and I lurked for months before signing up :D Then, I found out randomly that my friend is also a lurker! She’s never posted, but made a purchase from Whiteflash because she read on PS that they were the best of the best. Wouldn’t the majority of people making an important online purchase google the vendor or their diamond questions and somehow come across PS?
 

amoline

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
218
It's small.

Using a Domain Analytics website (it guesstimates, so it's not totally perfect), the info I get says JA gets 75,000 backlinks from Pricescope.

I imagine that of those many are the type that we post here "Hey, check this stone out..." and a customer clicks on that and 10 other options. So, a fraction of those backlinks are actual purchases from JA.

The other websites above Pricescope that link to JA are 2x-10x+ the amount of backlinks.

I'm not saying Pricescope is entirely irrelevant or meaningless to JA; I'm just saying they won't be completely killing theirselves by deciding that PS isn't valuable to them anymore. I'm not even saying that's what they've decided and like the JA people mentioned, the decision could still change.

It's highly likely that engines are also using tools to bias your search results to websites that you visit often. When I first found PS, it was because of a Page 4 or 5 thing I found about sapphires. Now, just like you, I do a search and I have many if not all page 1 results as something from PriceScope.
 

flyingpig

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 7, 2015
Messages
2,009
PS is small compared to JA entire customer base. I like @amoline analogy to Subaru and manual transmission. Car enthusiasts get pissed at car companies removing manual trannys. After all, it is a right decision. Focusing or listening too much to "enthusiasts" is not necesarily good. In fact, it can be deadly to some organizations. Many companies make dick moves and piss off their fan base, but they often do very well. I am not defending JA at all. I am just interested in JA's next move from business perspective.
JA does not need PS. Many online vendors do fine without PS support. Despiting being a PS partner, we do not recommend BN that much, but they are still in business. In fact, in most cases, people recommend WF, BG and the CBI anyways.
As for me, I can still scan thru their diamonds much faster than using other websites. If I happen to find a good diamond and the price is good, I would still buy from JA. Actually, this works in my favour as others may have more difficulty than I do; yeap I am bit selfish. It is like an airliner making dick moves time to time and offering less service. You get pissed, but ultimately, if the price is alright, you use the airliner.
If I find a diamond I like, I request the IS image anyways. I just need to ask for the GIA report number as well.
 
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PreRaphaelite

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 2, 2015
Messages
1,356
On today's seminar menu we have:
"How to move your stagnant product 101"
And
"How to tap into profit by getting returning customers through a trade up policy, learner stones are there for a reason"
I would respond with something.... but I have instead died laughing
Thanks for this, sorely needed!
:lol:
 

kmoro

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2018
Messages
1,076
It's small.

Using a Domain Analytics website (it guesstimates, so it's not totally perfect), the info I get says JA gets 75,000 backlinks from Pricescope.

I imagine that of those many are the type that we post here "Hey, check this stone out..." and a customer clicks on that and 10 other options. So, a fraction of those backlinks are actual purchases from JA.

The other websites above Pricescope that link to JA are 2x-10x+ the amount of backlinks.

I'm not saying Pricescope is entirely irrelevant or meaningless to JA; I'm just saying they won't be completely killing theirselves by deciding that PS isn't valuable to them anymore. I'm not even saying that's what they've decided and like the JA people mentioned, the decision could still change.

It's highly likely that engines are also using tools to bias your search results to websites that you visit often. When I first found PS, it was because of a Page 4 or 5 thing I found about sapphires. Now, just like you, I do a search and I have many if not all page 1 results as something from PriceScope.
I typed out a huge response about statistics and assumptions, and then I looked at the web to find the average amount spent on an engagement ring in the US. I found out that most people expect to spend $1000-5000, and the average spent is $6000 ... well ... at least according to the first site that came up.

If most people are spending $6,000 or less, then I can actually see a point to JA not being concerned about losing customers to lack of available info. The smaller the purchase, the less a customer is going to worry about the finer details, imo. So if these uninformed customers form the majority of JA sales, then maybe JA won’t suffer. Maybe they don’t sell a lot of diamonds over $10,000.

A word about the stats again though .... I have accessed the JA site probably over a thousand times over the last few years, and I have done it through the link on another website like PS maybe a dozen times. 99.9% of the time, I access JA (and WF and GOG) directly. I’m sure I’m not alone. That means that there is no way of knowing how many PSers actually visit the JA site. I bet most people don’t do it through backlinks. There go the stats. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter.
 

amoline

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 11, 2018
Messages
218
Indeed, Kmoro. That's why I said it certainly wasn't perfect. Just a guesstimate.
 

hobbitfancier55

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 12, 2017
Messages
257
It looks like they don't even have the measurements up, stone proportions or any details other than color, clarity and weight. That's ridiculous. You can't properly shop this way. You have no idea what you are getting. Bad business move.

How can you even compare stones? Or if you have setting and are looking for a stone with certain measurements? Are you supposed to just buy what they tell you to and trust it's ok? I wouldn't.
Exactly! On top of this, with fancy colors, you have no way of knowing what color it is when the description on the listing simply says “fancy yellow”. Does this mean fancy yellow, fancy intense, fancy vivid, what about undertones like fancy brownish yellow?
 

lissyflo

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
May 23, 2016
Messages
631
When a business hides previously available information from its customers, you can guarantee that the move will only work in the business's favour. Dress it up as they like, hiding information is exactly what this move represents.

I would be extremely surprised if their next move, once the dust has settled on this change, isn’t to release a statement along the lines of “Our analysis shows us that only x% of customers make enquiries about certs and the information they contain. We have therefore made the decision not to certify stones, to save the vast majority of our customers this unnecessary admin fee. Customers may request a cert on stones they are interested in for a fee of $x ( GIA fee, plus additional fee to James Allen to ‘hold’ stone for duration of the process).”

This would increase their margins directly via the admin fee and would allow them carte blanche to price uncerted stones as they see fit. Genius move for them, but sadly a huge retrograde step in transparency in the marketplace, especially given the pressure they surely have to set the tone in the market as a whole.

Customers would, as JA say, be able to judge with their eyes (and only their eyes, all cerebral analysis having been made impossible due to lack of data), but only one video at a time, no direct comparisons between stones.

Customers would be in a worse position than current B&M stores, but doubtless paying similar mark-ups as in B&Ms once the information enabling comparison of stones has been removed from the public realm.

Morph into online version of mall store complete, but with higher margins. It really is a genius, but very soul destroying, transformation.
 
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Kaycee2018

Shiny_Rock
Premium
Joined
May 14, 2018
Messages
367
I just want to say that even before I found PS, I wanted to see the reports when browsing online...if for nothing else than to see the clarity plots. And there is NO WAY I would be calling or emailing a retailer to requests copies of reports...I have no time or patience for that. I totally agree that JA is going the way of Jared, Kay, and Zales in appealing to less educated buyers and will likely end up selling the same quality of diamonds and settings. Adding JA to my "don't even bother" list.
 

SimoneDi

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Dec 19, 2014
Messages
3,522
Much of what I thought about this change has already been said by others. It is clearly a strategy that is aimed to serve JA as the vendor and not benefit the consumer, even if such consumer is not a diamond savvy one. I have recommended JA in the past and family members had purchased from them, but with this change, I personally lost all respect for the company and frankly I wouldn’t care if they would change their strategy in the future and add back the certificate details.

I am clearly not their target consumer and so I have no desire to seek them as a vendor. Not sure about everyone else, but I already unsubscribes from their emails and haven’t lost a second of good sleep over it.

Onto the next best thing. Good luck JA! It is funny that you forgot that your target audience values time above all else and requiring them to have a conversation in order to initiate and complete a purchase would undoubtedly push them away.
 

whatamilookingat

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
19
During my stone search, there were maybe one or two sites that asked that you to email them for the certificate for certain stones. It was off putting, but if I was really interested I emailed. If they required me to actually call, I probably would never have done it because I'm socially awkward and phone calls make me very anxious.
On that note, I've heard people (especially younger people) seem to have a harder time with face to face contact (or phone calls) and socialization in general because of the rise in technology, and the ability to basically get by without having to interact with others. I wonder how this will affect James Allen, with young people just getting engaged and possibly not wanting to have to interact with anyone during their purchase, just due to comfort level.
 
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