Unleashing AI in the Jewelry Retail World

Artificial intelligence may have big potential for jewelers, but it comes with challenges, says expert Ross Cockerham.

December 5, 2023  |  Joyce Kauf

Artificial intelligence (AI) is all the rage, dominating headlines across all industries — and it will transform the jewelry sector, according to Ross Cockerham. The CEO and cofounder of Punchmark — a jewelry-focused digital-growth agency in Charlotte, North Carolina — has developed webinars and spoken on AI at industry gatherings including JCK Las Vegas, the Retail Jewelers Organization (RJO) Buying Show, and the Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO) conference. He will present a seminar at the April 2024 AGS Conclave in Austin, Texas, titled “Navigating Through the AI Revolution as Retail Jewelers.”

Here, he shares his insights on the subject with Rapaport Magazine.

Has AI become part of the industry consciousness?

The most popular application facilitating the use of AI today is ChatGPT — Chat Generative Pretrained Transformer — and I would estimate that about 50% of the jewelry industry is aware of its existence.

While I see greater awareness on the vendor side than [on that of] the independent jeweler, I expect that by the beginning of the first quarter in 2024, about 75% of the industry will know more about its applications, ease of use, and effectiveness in driving their respective businesses.

How does AI facilitate and improve business?

In a matter of seconds, AI can change how retailers communicate their brand story to the world. AI can automatically generate enticing product descriptions, update content to keep it current, write informative blog posts, and produce detailed images that can inspire custom jewelry designs or be shared with customers via email or social media.

AI reduces the time required to develop and implement promotional campaigns. For example, a jeweler wanting to promote birthstone jewelry in September can use AI to create a campaign around sapphires featuring the stone across different categories and price points, with accompanying content and images on their website, emails and social media.

How do retailers start using AI? Does ChatGPT require special training?

Since it’s a language model, it doesn’t require any special training; you can just chat with it. While some retailers have interacted with ChatGPT on their own, we’ve built the capability directly into our jewelry website platform, where retailers can simply click the “Ask AI” button to generate content for any page or blog article.

The most effective AI tool in Punchmark’s website platform is the capability to generate product titles and descriptions with just a few clicks. Since the platform automatically connects a retailer’s products to Google Shopping, along with Facebook and Instagram, these newly written descriptions will continue to build trust throughout all channels.

A more accurate product title created via AI also helps to improve SEO. It’s a bit ironic that we’ve come to the point that we have robots writing for robots.

Some jewelers may all use the same vendor-provided descriptions. What about the legal ramifications of using AI?

The law hasn’t kept pace with technology. While copyright law may be changing, it’s a slow process, and jewelers need to be aware of potential plagiarism issues and take steps to protect themselves.

We advise our clients to make changes to the description or image to make it their own and unique to their business. Special attention must be paid to accuracy. Don’t make things up.

What’s next on the AI horizon?

Data mining, often referred to as the “new oil,” is the future. Facilitated by AI, data mining will enable delving into a machine-learning model to quickly aggregate data [so we can] identify trends and what the customer wants — even to the extent of drilling down to determine what jewelry a specific demographic is interested in buying. For example, data mining can home in on the diamond earrings a woman between 35 and 40 years old wants to buy.

But data mining can require a lot of heavy lifting [in] petabytes (1 billion megabytes) of data. While these solutions are happening in other industries, I don’t see this happening in jewelry for another three to five years.

[This technology] can automatically generate product descriptions, update content to keep it current, write informative blog posts, and produce detailed images.

And the challenges?

We are facing an entirely new landscape, and with the exponential advancement of AI, developments like these can happen much sooner. Not only is AI larger than the internet, but it will have a greater impact than the internet itself. That’s crazy to think about.

We have to find ways to navigate the AI revolution. Enormous opportunities come with very real challenges. For everything that excites us, another thing will terrify us, as this technology will be used to build and destroy. I think the biggest question is: How do we use all these tools and still remain human?

Main image: Ross Cockerham. (Ross Cockerham)

This article is from the November-December 2023 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

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