A solution in online sales of jewelry
JANESVILLE Steve Yeko Sr. got into the jewelry business in 1974 when he answered a help wanted ad for a sales position at a Milwaukee-area store.
He quickly learned the business, climbed the ranks and in 1982 opened a store with his wife. After a couple of moves, the store in 1986 landed in the Janesville Mall.
The Diamond Center today is a prospering business, with a store in Madison and a series of expansions in Janesville.
While he still works in an office above the mall store, Yeko is light years removed from the retail operation that his son now runs below him.
Yeko has jumped into the online world that he says almost missed the jewelry industry.
About a year ago, Yeko launched ESDN-Live, an e-commerce network that bridges the gap between the most recognized jewelry suppliers and thousands of independent retailers around the world. ESDN is an acronym for Electronic Sales & Dealership Network.
“We’ve got a solution that isn’t available anywhere else in the world,” Yeko said of the product he’s been developing for five years. “What I’ve built, everybody needs.”
Hearts On Fire, probably the most recognized brand in bridal jewelry, joined ESDN-Live in November.
Hearts On Fire is one of about 12 brands that have signed on with ESDN. Each brand brings ESDN the websites of the hundreds of retailers that carry its products.
In a nutshell, ESDN offers a comprehensive sales, marketing and inventory program that allows consumers to visit a jewelry store’s site, shop from thousands of products from multiple retailers and easily buy without ever leaving the retailer’s site.
For example, visit The Diamond Center website, click on Hearts On Fire or one of the other brands the store carries, and the full product line is available. That allows retailers to reduce their physical inventory yet greatly increase the product they can deliver to customers in a day or two.
An alternative, Yeko said, is for each retailer to tediously catalog the thousands of products each brand offers, get that information onto its site and then make it work with a shopping cart. Then, the retailer would have to repeat the process for each of its other brands and stay on top of price and inventory changes.
ESDN-Live does all that, plus much more, and Yeko said the company has applications far beyond the jewelry industry. The company charges set-up fees to suppliers and retailers and earns a small percentage of every sale a retailer makes through ESDN-Live.
With 12 brands already signed, the company’s growth potential is huge, Yeko said.
ESDN-Live is working with another dozen suppliers, and if each brings a few hundred retailer websites, Yeko said his young company will have to grow to meet the demand.
The company now has about 15 employees, a number Yeko said could double every 90 days as more brands and retailers come online. He suspects he’ll need one employee to support 30 or so retailers, and there are more than 28,000 retailers in the market.
Part of the staff works in the upstairs office at the mall. Others work in leased space at another location that Yeko predicts he’ll soon outgrow.
So far, Yeko has hired temporary employees because of a local lack of qualified web programmers and developers.
“We haven’t marketed the business too aggressively,” he said. “At this point, the suppliers are calling us.
“The growth potential is incredible, and we’ll manage it carefully.”