Cory Moore is a serial entrepreneur. He attended Texas State University in San Marcus. When he was in his 20s, he started his first company. Now there have been about six different companies that Cory has been involved in and started. Some of the ones started while he was in college are still going strong, plus additional projects since.
How in the world did you get into jewelry?
Cory met his wife, then girlfriend, just before they started attending Texas State together. About six months before they started attending the university, it just so happened that we met we’re going to the same school.
They were dating for about six months to a year and she said, “Hey, you know, I’ve got some family over in Israel, they’re involved in diamonds and jewelry. We’re going to go over and visit them. Are you interested in going over there and just sightseeing and taking a look at the country?” Absolutely!
That was May of 2005 when they traveled to Israel and he was introduced to his wife’s cousins who have a manufacturing facility. They have owned that facility in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, for about 45 years. That area is referred to as the “polished diamond capital of the world.” About 70% of the world’s diamonds at one point were sent to that part of Israel, where they were cut and polished into the finished gems. Since then, some of that labor has moved overseas to India and China, but Israel is still a very large hub for that.
So his now wife, then girlfriend, introduced him to this world. At the time he was involved in nutrition and physiology. In that business and doing something totally different with wellness and health.
When did you actually start J and M Jewelry?
Cory was there in May 2005, came back and immediately started formulating a plan. He filed for DBA (doing business as) and opening business accounts, it was a very quick process. “It’s important to take momentum when it is on your side, because it isn’t always.” It’s important to get the snowball rolling when the opportunity is there.”
When did you actually go online with your sales?
The site that you see right now is the third site that J and M Jewelry has produced. The first website was a non-e-commerce site. The second-generation site was a WordPress site and that’s when they started the e-commerce side of things. That was roughly about 2010 when the second site was launched. That was early for the ecommerce revolution. Ecommerce is a different world when you apply it to fine jewelry or any other luxury item, these are typically things people want to see in person. J and M approached it a lot differently than others.
What are the challenges?
The first thing is business integrity, business ethics, business morals, the way you present your business or your brand is essential because trust is critical in any business. Even more critical because people need to know who they’re buying from, what they’re buying, and they need to have that sense of confidence.
When you look at other ecommerce jewelry brands, they are click to buy type of process, no experts in the field of jewelry. J and M uses a totally different approach, they use the website to capture a lot of clients to convert them with a more personal method. They have B2B and B2C and their direct-to-consumer business is about 70% custom designs. The one-on-one customer service is what makes them stand out from other ecommerce jewelry brands. There is a gap between a typical ecommerce business and the personal, hands on experience you’ll get with J and M Jewelry. It’s all about customer retention, 85-90% of our customers are repeat customers. It’s a lot more expensive to get new customers than it is to keep your old ones. Customer service is huge! Clients have to like the product, but they have to like the experience as well.
What platform do you currently use?
They’re currently using Squarespace, but they’re about to switch. In their opinion, Wix is the best e-commerce platform that’s available right now. There’s a lot of options out there, but Wix, from their experience, is the best from design and a customer experience standpoint for a do it yourself platform.
They are about to do some really cool things with AR, VR and Digital Rendering for a user experience unlike any other. The technical side is an in depth process and hope to launch the new site in the next 6 months or so.
I know you like customer retention, but how do you get new buyers to your site?
The reason they are where they are right now has been because of referrals. Without referrals, J and M Jewelry would not be where they are today. Their marketing department tries to do things that are way outside of the box that other jewelry companies wouldn’t even touch with a 10 foot pole. They don’t have the large marketing budget like the big brands. They decided to have a heavy reliance on a visual strategy with video, as well as utilizing social media through partnerships and influencers. Of course still using the traditional SEO and digital presence that all ecommerce brands need to use. But again, trying to stay out of the box, listening to customers and capitalizing on technology to create a brand that stands out.
What do you wish you had known before starting your business?
CSV files! Those in the world of Jewelry are a disaster. He’s now working with a software company to make the process simpler.
What advice would you have for somebody who’s looking to potentially get into e-commerce or just business in general?
E-commerce is definitely the future, retail is on the decline. Consumers are becoming more educated and the ability to shop online gives them the opportunity to compare everything about a product or service. The customer user experience needs to be the best it possibly can, get the user to the end product with minimal amount of clicks. Keith gave him some great advice on that!
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Most companies are focused on revenue, what are they valued at and growing fast. Debt and scaling too fast can ruin a business. Remember business is a marathon, not a sprint. Start slow, don’t acquire a lot of debt and let your growth be organic so you can learn along the way and build slowly.
Ecommerce has opened up a whole new world of starting a business without overhead. With easy to use platforms, drop shipping and more, you can start a business with low startup costs. It’s easier than it has ever been and more attractive to many people.Listen until the very end to hear Cory talk about the “Shark Tank effect” and avoid major pitfalls when starting your business.
What haven’t I asked you that I should have?
Have work-life balance! Not that he has the answers, but make sure you are doing it.