By Brecken Branstrator
New York--In the most recent study of specialty retailers by think tank L2, Zales was the only jeweler listed as being “gifted” when it comes to digital. 

The others--including Tiffany & Co., which has ranked highly in past L2 studies--fell into the “average” or “challenged” category because of their lack of omnichannel integration.

L2’s “Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail” report tested the “digital competence” of 82 specialty retail brands in the U.S. market to find strengths and weaknesses, including a number of retail jewelers, then assigned them a digital IQ that landed them in categories ranging from “genius” to “feeble.”

The study examined the brands’ website and e-commerce, digital marketing, social media and mobile presence.

L2 found that while brands continue to invest in their e-commerce businesses, much less focus is being put on omnichannel retailing, which refers to providing a seamless approach for consumers across all available shopping platforms including mobile, digital and brick-and-mortar.

Overall, watches and jewelry as a single category continues to lag behind other sectors in their average digital IQ due to a lack of integration between digital and traditional retail channels. L2 made this same observation in another recent study that included a number of jewelry sellers.

The specialty jewelers that ranked in L2’s “average” category that could stand to improve on their digital presence are Kay Jewelers (Zales is now owned by the same parent company as Kay, Signet Jewelers Ltd.), Tiffany, Swatch, Fossil, Swarovski and Alex and Ani.

Tourneau and Cartier, meanwhile, were classified as “challenged” when it comes to their digital presence.

The only brand among all 82 retailers examined that fell into the highest category, “genius,” was cosmetics and beauty chain Sephora.

Here’s what Sephora does right. 

The brand’s product pages provide the ability to filter customer ratings and reviews by attribute, engage in product Q&A, explore brand-specific boutiques, and access tutorial videos. Additionally, its mobile site provides instant access to users’ Beauty Insider account, the Sephora loyalty program, purchase history, and their “Loves” wish list.

Since nearly 43 percent of retail web traffic will come from mobile devices this holiday season, according to L2, it’s increasingly important for retailers to focus on their digital presence. 

To do this, top brands are investing in web features such as product reviews and ratings, omnichannel integration that allows shoppers to pick up in store or check a store’s inventory, and free shipping, with many setting shipping thresholds to incentivize larger shopping baskets in exchange for free shipping.

Retailers also maintained a high commitment to social media in 2014, according to L2, achieving a near-ubiquitous brand platform across every platform except for Tumblr, which is generally reserved for lifestyle-building content. 

Tablets, meanwhile, remain an industry-wide weakness for retailers. 

Most rely on their desktop sites to power the tablet experience, without adapting to the different size or for touch input. Less than half of brands use large-format menus and buttons to cater to the tablet user, and less than 40 percent of checkout experiences consolidate all steps to a single page.

More information about the study and its findings can be found on L2’s website.

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