I have a client that wants to sell jewelry, and she wants a website to advertise her collection there. The thing is, she doesn't have any means to sell them directly online. So the site is almost like a flyer -- you can't click on a "add to cart" button on something that's printed and hope you get it shipped to you; you browse through the flyer and then you go to the store to buy the thing you liked.

I just want to make sure, though, are there any good practices to follow when designing such a site?

The ideas that I come up with almost have a feel where the customer might expect to buy the products online, but then again, it's just me. I just want to double check.

4 Answers 4


I think Jewelry is a reasonable exception, and user expectations will not be a huge issue here. Most people actually don't want to purchase expensive jewelry online because you don't really know what it looks like until you see it in person. Many jewelry store websites work this way.

I would approach this by having a really basic catalog with pictures and prices as you might expect. Below the pictures is a View Details button that opens a small modal dialog with KT weight, measurements, and the SKU number so users can tell the store clerks exactly what they are interested in. If everything is really basic and details are minimal people will should get the idea that the site is not intended for e-commerce.

You should tell the user that purchases can only be done in the store, but you don't have to throw it in their face. It could be a help icon in the top of the Details modal dialog. Or it could be a message at the bottom of the Details dialog that says "If you would like to purchase this item, please come visit us at [address]" I would also consider including the phone number on this screen.

Edit: A print button inside of the detail view would also be nice, just to create a printer-friendly version. That way they don't have to write down the product name and SKU number.


Even if people can't buy directly from the website, you have plenty of options to offer them which gets them closer to their goal. What do you want the user to do? Which things you offer at the moment your user decides he/she is interested in a particular piece of jewelry?

I've recently done some brainstorming about exactly this with a student in goldsmithing. Some options you could consider:

  • Save information: send an email with detailed information, including any product numbers and a high quality picture. That way it's easy to retrieve the exact details when your user goes to the physical store.
  • Add the item to a wishlist: a list of items that your user likes or considers buying. Useful when typical buyers buy more than one item, or when there is a long time between orientation and final decision to buy.
  • Share with others: especially for jewelry, your user might want to ask another one's opinion before buying (think: mother, best friend, etc.). Make it easy for them to do so.
  • Get in touch with the jeweller: some kinds of jewelry really need personal contact, such as custom made jewelry or personal memorial items. If that's the case, make sure the user can contact the jeweller easily, for example via a contact form or with a call-me-now button.
  • Make a reservation: it's nothing less than a nightmare to go to a jeweller to buy a particular piece that you fell in love with, only to find out that it's no longer available.
  • Make an appointment: so you can be sure there's time for personal attention (I've seen this work pretty well for wedding rings)
  • Excellent suggestions. I'm in the process of developing a jewelry site for my wife and will be taking your suggestions to heart. May 3, 2011 at 16:11

First, add something the user can hold onto to reference what they have found. A product number if you will. If the product names are simple enough than this might due if not you can create simple system.

Next, make it clear they cannot purchase. You can do this by putting a simple 3 step graphic saying something like:

"1. Choose your jewelry 2. Get your [product ID, name, code] 3. Take it to the store and Buy!'

Lastly, focus on the shop in your copy as much as you can.


In this case you might want to make sure the user understands perfectly the site purpose as well where he can go and buy the stuff. You might also like to keep an eye open on big fashion brands and jewellery as well. If your client doesn’t intent to sell on-line I am almost sure that's a moment decision, he might want to pursue this a a later stage of the business development but anyway...

Bottom line is the site visitor needs to understand properly what he is seeing and where that merchandise can be bought.

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