By Lenore Fedow
The Plumb Club’s new platform connects buyers and sellers virtually.
New York—The Plumb Club had been looking into how to set up virtual meetings between its members and their customers for more than a year.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Still in the research and development phase, the organization had to jump-start its plans to get a solution up and running quickly.

The result is the TPC-365 platform, a new way for members and retailers to connect virtually 24/7.

The goal was to get the experience as close to a real-life meeting as possible, Lawrence Hess, executive director of the Plumb Club, told National Jeweler in an interview.

When a supplier sits down with a retailer, they will usually take out trays of jewelry to show off new collections. A retailer will take a closer look and set aside what they like.

The platform offers a virtual tray to allow that same interaction.

As suppliers show their pieces retailers can drag-and-drop their selections into the tray.

A screen-sharing feature allows the supplier to see what piece the retailer is looking at in real time, down to what part of the piece they’re viewing, like if they’re zooming in on a center stone or taking a closer look at the setting.

The supplier can point out something specific or answer questions while the retailer is looking.

Suppliers can also show their marketing materials at the same time, just as if they were sliding them a lookbook across the table.

“It really becomes an immersive experience, just like if you were sitting there,” said Hess.

That’s where other screen-sharing services and video call platforms are limited, he added.

Presentations can feature high-resolution product images, streaming media, product descriptions, and can be tailored to specific clients.

Members have also repurposed the platform for customer service needs, offering virtual consultations to discuss repairs or changes to a piece of jewelry.

The platform will soon offer a lightbox feature, allowing members to put a piece of jewelry into a lightbox and work with it live.

Plumb Club member companies are currently being trained on the platform, which is set to roll out this month in time for the fourth quarter selling season.

“It really becomes an immersive experience, just like if you were sitting there.” — Lawrence Hess, executive director of the Plumb Club

The buy-and-sell feature is just phase one of the Plumb Club’s three-pronged strategy.

“Right now, all of our members have the ability to invite a retailer to come into a virtual meeting,” said Hess.

“The second phase is the ability for the retailer to now seek out the member that maybe they don’t know and find out more about them.”

This phase is still in development, cautioned Hess, but he gave an idea of what it could look like.

The second phase could be a virtual shopping center, allowing retailers to browse through its members’ offerings just as if they had stopped into a physical store.

Access to the platform would be free for retailers, said Hess.

Retailers could stroll down a virtual hallway, perusing members’ storefronts as if they were shopping along Main Street.

If a retailer is looking for a diamond bracelet or a watch, a search function will filter all the members to those who have a specific item available.

Retailers could also “walk in” to a storefront to get more information and request an appointment.

The Plumb Club has curated its member list to feature a little bit of everything, said Hess, from watch and jewelry companies to diamond manufacturers, which allows it to offer a variety of products.

Its member list includes watch companies Citizen and Bulova, diamond manufacturer Rosy Blue, pearl purveyors Mastoloni and Imperial Pearl, and jewelry consultant Wilkerson Express, among others.

Phase two is still in the works, said Hess, but is expected to be ready by the fourth quarter of this year.

The last phase involves developing a member resource center, a one-stop shop for all of its webinars, podcasts, news articles, and other content.

That content is available on its website now, said Hess, but it’s not all available in one spot like it would be on the new platform.

It could serve as a gathering place for the organization too, said Hess, allowing suppliers and retailers to connect, as they would if the Plumb Club was holding an in-person event.

“This platform, while it’s super valid right now, will continue to be valid. After there’s a vaccine and everyone is going into stores and you can meet physically, we still believe this platform will be relevant and important because it allows you to connect on a regular basis with your clients,” said Hess.

The ultimate goal is to add to the platform to create an immersive experience for its members all year long.

“Many industries have been successfully leveraging the virtual space for years,” said Michael Lerche, president of The Plumb Club, in a press release announcing the platform.

“The jewelry industry has been lagging, however, now more than ever, and continuing to the future, the virtual space is essential for sustained business growth.”

The platform was created by Boss Logics, a web-based business solutions provider, who has worked with H&M, Guinness, and several jewelry brands and retailers.

“The ‘together’ platform not only offers huge efficiencies to both manufacturers and retailers, but more importantly, it provides an effective business-relationship-building tool and a totally collaborative experience, just like an in-person meeting would,” said Zach Lipsky, founder and president of Boss Logics.

The platform is set to be completed sometime in 2021.

For more information, visit the Plumb Club website.

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