By Brecken Branstrator
Ritani’s new “Virtual Shelf” technology white labeled for the jeweler, allowing them to include their own branding and colors.
Las Vegas—Fine jewelry e-tailer Ritani has launched new technology to expand retailers’ in-store capabilities, debuting the “Virtual Shelf” app and sales tool during Las Vegas market week.

At the Luxury jewelry trade show, the company introduced the sales vehicle, designed to tackle such retail challenges as limited physical inventory and the high costs of managing transactions by providing them with a digital inventory of hundreds of thousands of diamond and jewelry items.

It comes in response to feedback that has come from Ritani’s retail partners and was built hand-in-hand with them to address needs and concerns, the company said.

“Virtual Shelf” takes the form of an iPad app used over the counter during the sales process, complementing a retailer’s existing inventory by making more than 250,000 items available to a store’s shoppers for immediate purchase. It also provides full-service sales processing on Ritani’s end.

Retailers can set their own margins while Ritani handles the back-end transaction for the jeweler, including order fulfillment, credit card processing, fraud risk and returns. The store also immediately sees the transaction in their books when a purchase is made.

Jewelers also can list and sell their own inventory to other program partner retailers, with the ability to set their own cost/list prices and margins to manage inventory flow.

“The development of Virtual Shelf builds on Ritani’s steadfast dedication to helping independent jewelers implement new technologies to accelerate business,” Virtual Shelf General Manager Josh Marion said. “This platform stems from years of working closely with independent retailers and seeking to solve for the critical issues affecting their businesses; we believe it will have a visible and transformative impact.”

By giving retailers digital access to an immediate inventory of diamonds and jewelry, Virtual Shelf is “giving the power back to the retailer,” he said, helping them compete with online companies by offering a large inventory selection and competitive pricing.

The app is jeweler-branded, allowing retailers to use their own logo and business colors, with no mention of Virtual Shelf by Ritani anywhere on it.

There is a $1,500 fee to use the technology, which includes the cost of the iPad, but the fee is waived when a retailer sells a certain amount or purchases a specific amount of product.

Marion told National Jeweler at the Luxury show that the company is open to partnering with independents of all types.

The platform currently is being tested by a handful of retailers.

“While the industry has often been slow to implement new technology, the introduction of Ritani’s Virtual Shelf platform is a game-changer for independent jewelers like Padis and for our customers,” said Alexis Padis, President of Padis Jewelry, one of the retailers currently testing the system in its stores.

“This app dramatically improves the sales process for our team, removes the overhead and headaches of managing the transaction, and gives customers access to more diamonds and jewelry from a centralized, nationwide repository. Plus, we are empowered to better manage our owned inventory and offer it to other jewelers on the platform so we can collectively better serve shoppers around the country.”

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.