Even as it has invested this year in data analytics to improve the profit margins on its products sold online, Blue Nile has found some money to start mapping out a clever retail store strategy that takes aim at traditional jewelers such as Kay and Jared’s operated by Signet Jewelers (SIG). The first retail store, called a ‘webroom’ by Blue Nile, opened in June of this year at Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, New York. Unlike typical jewelry stores, Blue Nile’s webroom carries no inventory for people to buy, only to try on, and have them walked through an online order by an associate at its version of Apple’s (AAPL) genius bar. By cutting out inventory, Blue Nile is able to keep its costs for the store at bay, and maintain cheaper product prices relative to competitors. Explains CEO Harvey Kanter, ‘The webroom is a bet we have made on the consumer that needs to see, touch and feel -- about 75% of the customers to the store are actually purchasing in the store, and we are also seeing a lift in the entire market as it creates greater awareness of Blue Nile.’ According to Kanter, Blue Nile plans to open three to four more stores in the first half of 2016 using the same format. TheStreet’s Brian Sozzi reports.
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