By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA
Around three years ago, MCGI, the parent company of Jewelry Television (JTV), allocated a team of 30 software engineers, product owners, and quality engineers to build a new marketplace platform. Chris Meystrik, Chief Technology Officer of the company, said they thought about it entrepreneurially, with the team being dedicated to just this task.
Named Jedora, the new jewelry, watches, and gemstones platform utilizes JTV’s decades of experience to continue building relationships with jewelry vendors and expanding into new demographics. The platform launched last October. Teknovation.biz first wrote about Jedora when Meystrik presented at the “KTech PULSE Technology Summit.”
“We had been thinking about a marketplace in this manner for a long time,” he said. “We’ve got so many great relationships with vendors in the jewelry and gemstone industry, all the way out to the mines in some cases, producers of jewelry and gem cutters, along with our own companies overseas.”
When JTV started developing the technology three years ago, engineers were focused on building features for consignment and drop-shipping. In consignment sales, the inventory is sent to JTV (or Jedora), who then pays the seller once a sale has been made. In drop-shipping, the seller keeps the inventory and ships it from their location. These features were built on top of the inventory and sales technology that JTV already had in place.
“A marketplace is not very far from those two pieces of technology,” Meystrik added, saying “the primary piece of our traditional business for JTV is owned goods.”
First, MCGI focused on a website for Jedora and a services model. The latter would set up how the company makes revenue off the marketplace platform. Because the platform also enables sellers to customize their virtual storefront and track SKUs and inventory, Jedora helps remove a barrier of entry for people who otherwise don’t sell direct to consumers. Combined with the possibility of expanding the business into new markets, Meystrik said it was “a pretty awesome equation.”
“We were building two key pieces of technology that would carry significant benefit to JTV alone, so expanding these out to create the foundation of the marketplace platform was pretty low-risk to go and do,” he said.”
So far, the new site is working, Meystrik said. The company has received an enthusiastic response from the industry and has attracted a growing number of sellers and vendors to the site. The Jedora development team formed an advisory board to help build the site, which allowed them to think critically about the project at each step. Although the board is no longer in place, Meystrik said Jedora may reassemble the board to help with customer and growth advice.
MCGI has always been a company that looks toward the future of sales and technology, Meystrik said. During the Great Recession of 2008, JTV looked for ways to pull itself through and improve on the other side. Although he said the company has weathered the pandemic in good shape, the idea was the same: “How can we continue to expand and improve?”
Going through the phases of Jedora, he said last year was the delivery phase. Now, Jedora is looking into how to grow and scale the marketplace. Within the company, Meystrik added there were recent organizational changes to help bring more support to the Jedora platform. As it continues to grow, the company will also hire more people to support Jedora.
Meystrik added the Jedora team is fine-tuning the platform as well. They are working on optimizing conversion funnels. Marketplace technologies offer their own new challenges, as tuning the search engine specifically for sellers is a key component of success and becomes a constant job. Because some boutique sellers will have less inventory than larger sellers, Meystrik said Jedora has had to do some work on making sure both sellers appear equally in searches.
Although the company originally thought Jedora would attract small- and mid-size sellers, larger vendors have also expressed interest in the site. Its engineers are currently working on some integrations to help sellers of that size automate their business on the marketplace.
“These API integrations are one of the things that we weren’t planning on doing initially, but now we’ve attracted some of these larger sellers that need that technology,” Meystrik said. “What we thought going into this was we’d attract smaller to mid-size sellers that need the technology that we built, and in fact, that is true, but we need both now that the large vendors are joining more quickly. It’s a great problem to have.”
Jedora was built with growth in mind, Meystrik said. Because engineers built new features onto technology the company already had, it has made it easier for JTV and Jedora to add more technology or business branches in the future.
“It’s really a scalable piece of art.”