What do you do when you have more than a billion potential product combinations on your site? You hire a user experience (UX) guru. Gemvara, a jewelry e-commerce site that lets consumers custom-design their own jewelry, just acquired Snipwits, a one-man startup founded by Brian Kalma, who will now be in charge of the customer experience team at Gemvara. Kalma previously headed up UX design at both Zappos (as one of its first employees) and Gilt Groupe. Kalma will tackle the challenge of helping customers narrow down a billion choices down to something they will actually buy. Gemvara uses no photographs. All of its images are virtual inventory (computer generated renderings), since customers can mix and match gemstones and metals to create their own rings, necklaces, and earrings. The Boston-based company is growing rapidly, on track to triple its revenues this year from "several million last year," CEO Matt Lauzon tells me. (Boston, apparently, is where it's happening this week). While this was very much an acqhire (the acquisition price was not revealed), Snipwits will continue to exists a sa stand-alone product and parts of it may become integrated into Gemvara. Snipwits is a peer-to-peer learning platform. Getting gem-browsing customers to teach each other about different kinds of gems and rare metals could be one way to get them more comfortable about parting with $840 for a ring they never get to touch before it arrives in the mail.
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