Gaurav Kushwaha, Founder & CEO of Bluestone: Changing How India Buys Jewelry
Indian E-Commerce is disrupting the traditional jewelry sector – with offline buyers shifting online attracted by the various benefits the online channel offers
November 15th, 2016
India’s luxury market is finally on a high ride of transformation from both industry and consumer perspectives. Valued for monetary and emotional value, precious metals and stones have been the most consistent commodity for decades It has also been one of least risky asset classes across the globe throughout history
India has been one of the largest jewelry markets in the world, valued at close to $90 billion and growing at 15.95 %annually. However, there has barely been any noticeable change in the way we perceive and consume jewelry for generations. The only change the industry is witnessing has been in consumer preferences due to the influence of the western lifestylend fashion sensibilities. There is a high demand for new designs and varieties in jewelry, and branded jewelers can fulfill these changing demands better than local unorganized players.
With the advent of online jewelry platforms, the country is now witnessing a new wave in the industry.
The evolution of e-commerce has changed the landscape of our business. 2015 has been a trend-changing year, with e-commerce seeing an unprecedented rise in the number of visitors as well as shoppers. Online jewelry has also followed the trend, and recent statistics estimate online sales in jewelry to be approximately INR 10 billion. This may not sound like much, but it should be read in the background of the fact that this is in a country where a large portion of the population is skeptic of buying goods online. Safety has, and always will be, a major concern when buying ornaments, and most consumers would still opt to go to a brick-and-mortar store. However, the trend seems to be changing, especially with the vast arrays of designs and price ranges being offered when you choose to shop online.
Following are the innovations that are helping us battle through the challenges
Reliability of the product: With the market being very traditional and stringent, winning the customer’s trust is a huge challenge. Packaging and offering of new and unique designs have been a USP against traditional channels. However, impending frauds still fuel the resistance. This is being addressed by providing certifications from leading bodies such as BIS Hallmark, IGI, SGL, HKD, and GIA.
Shopping experience: It is difficult for customers to pay without even feeling the product. It is one of the greatest roadblocks in shopping online. We have tried by offering a ‘Home Try-On’ service to enable customers to touch and experience our jewelry in the comfort of their homes with no obligation to buy. Also, a 30-day return policy along with a lifetime buy-back option has been provided to customers. This has enabled the customers to overcome their inhibitions around shopping for fine jewelry online.
Customization and personalization: Jewelry customization and personalization are hard because they cannot be stocked. This poses a painful process for the retailer. While people love the personalization, it is difficult to scale the business because of the inherent issues in the manufacturing process. This could be solved by automating a bunch of backend manufacturing processes. With the growing Internet penetration and the advancement in technologies like 3D printing, the manufacturing process can be made a lot faster.
Overall, despite the tough market, we have been strengthening our offerings and doubling our customer base year-on-year. This has been made possible due to the investments we have made towards design, marketing, technology, and logistics.
With the jewelry market expected to double to $110 billion over the next four to five years, we believe the contribution from online channels would reach the 1 – 2% mark. This is clearly the beginning of an important phase in the evolution of the age-old jewelry sector, with offline buyers exploring online platforms attracted by its convenience, efficiency, and experience.