The second session of RJIF 2020 was devoted to online commerce in the jewellery industry. The speaker, Shailen Mehta, Co-founder & MD, E Johri, dwelt on the importance of having an online as well as an offline presence in order to cater to today’s aware and well-informed customers.
Addressing the attendees, Mehta said that customers across the world are checking jewellery online before visiting stores. Making an interesting observation, he said that we have heard of acronyms such as B2B and B2C, but in today’s time, what is important is O2O, or Online to Offline, because sellers do not know where the buyers are.
Mehta added that no matter where a company has its stores, and no matter how many stores it has, it will not be possible for it to reach all customers. Today, a potential customer could be sitting anywhere in the world. In order to cater to a geographically diverse customer base, it is essential to have both an online and offline presence. Having a physical showroom is not enough; companies need a listed omni-channel platform so that customers across the world see its products and be able to buy them as is convenient for them. They could either visit the showroom physically, or select them online and buy them online, or select them online and buy them offline by visiting the store physically.
Yet another interesting point Mehta made was that since jewellery is a big-ticket purchase, people want to actually touch it and feel it before they buy it. This makes it all the more important for companies to have an omni-channel platform. To illustrate his point, he gave the example of the automobile industry. Around 15 years back, customers would physically visit a showroom, and the salesperson would explain the features and specifications of a particular model, and the customer would buy it. But things have changed dramatically today. Before they go to buy a car, customers have already done their research online, made comparisons, checked prices, and made their decision as to which model to buy. When they finally go to a showroom, it is basically just for a test drive. Something similar is happening in the jewellery industry, Mehta stated.
Customers have already browsed through websites and portals, and, more or less, made their choice. When they visit the showroom, it is just to take that final look at the product, and to touch it and feel it.
He added that E Johri is catering to these savvy customers, who look up products online, and even set up appointments online, then visit the showroom to buy them. This helps jewellers as well, as they are already aware of the choice of the customer.
Sharing data, Mehta said that in the past 10 years, the online sales of jewellery and watches have grown by almost three times, but the offline sales have not grown at the same speed. The total online sales in India have gone up by five times in the past six to seven years. “In 2012, the total online jewellery sales were just Rs 7 crore, but this figure is expected to go up to Rs 50,000 crore by 2024. If we see the data of 2018, the online sales stood at a meagre Rs 2900 crore, which is only one per cent of the total jewellery market. Though the size of the online jewellery industry is still small, it has seen an exponential grown in the past seven to eight years,” he concluded.