(L-R) Moderator: Soma Bhatta, Editor, Retail Jeweller Magazine, Samir Sagar, Director, Manubhai Jewellers, Rajiv Popley, Director, Popley & Sons Jewellers, Ashwin Bafna, COO, PNG Jewellers, Narendra Motwani, Head E-commerce & Digital Marketing, Malabar Gold, Rupesh Jain, Founder & CEO, Candere


The last session of RJIF 2020 saw sparks fly – figuratively, at least. The topic, ”Jewel sparks: New ideas to ignite the business”, turned out to be pretty interesting, with plenty of ideas being discussed threadbare. The session was moderated by Soma Bhatta, Editor, Retail Jeweller. The panel comprised of Samir Sagar, Director,  Manubhai Jewellers, Rajiv Popley, Director, Popley & Sons Jewellers, Ashwin Bafna, COO, PNG Jewellers, Narendra Motwani, Head E-commerce & Digital Marketing, Malabar Gold, Rupesh Jain, Founder & CEO, Candere

Bhatta set the ball rolling by pointing out how the very concept of a business idea has changed over the course of five years. “Five years back, if we talked about ideating and brainstorming, it would have meant looking for ideas that result in quick wins. It could have been retail promotion or successful campaigns. But today, when we talk about new ideas, we have to look at them from the lens of new areas that influence business — it could be social commerce, immersive technologies, data analytics, sub brands, experiential retailing, and so forth.”

Continuing with the discussion, Samir Sagar, Director, Manubhai Jewellers, talked about his new concept store, Madhuban. Sharing the thought process behind the sub-brand, he said he wanted to create a new experience for his clients, and that is how the idea of Madhuban came into the picture. He told the gathering that it requires special focus to manage two brands at the same time, as the thought process is different, and separate promotional campaigns have to be created.

Joining the conversation, Ashwin Bafna, COO, PNG Jewellers, stressed on the importance of creating customer loyalty programmes. “PNG Jewellers started investing in technology from the early 2000s. Today, there are close to 1.5 million active loyalty programme customers,” he said.

Sharing details, he added that customers are divided into four tiers, depending on how much they buy annually. The categories are Silver, Gold, Diamond, and Platinum. Initially, in order to make the programme attractive, PNG Jewellers gave much higher returns to the customers of their loyalty programme, close to 1% of the gross profit of the company. While that might seem too much, it helped them build the customer base.

Answering a question raised by the moderator, Bafna said customers who fall in the higher category value experience. For example, if they are alerted about a sale, hardly 1%-2% of them will respond, but when they are informed about a programme, such as grooming sessions or baking classes, most of them end up visiting the store, and the conversion rate is much higher because they have money in their pocket, but they are not forced to buy anything. He also elaborated on the importance of feedback. PNG’s customers receive a text message, seeking their feedback. About 12% to 15% of the company’s customers respond to such text messages. PNG has a dedicated call centre which calls those customers who rate their experience as average and/or below average. They are asked for their reasons for such a rating. Besides, random calls are made to regular customers to assess their feedback and take their opinion. These reports are shared with company employees so that the customer experiences can be improved.

Pitching in with his thoughts, Rajiv Popley, Director, Popley and Sons Jewellers, which pioneered the 3D technology (directly on metal) in the platinum jewellery category, said, “There is a particular segment of customers which demands couture premium products on par with international standards. Today, customers are ready to pay a little extra for upscale products. That explains why we successfully launched the second edition of the collection based on art-inspired designs crafted with 3D technology. The images are created by Popley himself, giving a rich story to each product. The technology allows the company to achieve craftsmanship on par with global brands such as Cartier, or Van Cleef & Arpels, and build a niche positioning in the minds of a select customer base.

Rupesh Jain, Founder & CEO, Candere by Kalyan Jewellers, joined the conversation and shared the ideas that enabled his brand to operate on its own terms. “Consumers compared the policies of our brand Candere with those of Amazon and Flipkart. As a brand, our main focus was to build on the experience of our customers in terms of the quality of the image they saw online, in terms of customization services, where customers could opt for the colour and karatage of gold as per their choice, in terms of the option of engraving the piece they chose with personalized messages, or the option of measuring the size of the finger to choose the ring size. And all these facilities were made available at the click of a button.

“Contrary to market practices, Candere does not do provide the cash-on-delivery option on products that cost over Rs 15,000. It accepts returns only if there is a manufacturing defect, or else it deducts 10% of the total product price, provided the customer returns the product within the 24-hour cancellation period. All of this is possible only because of our sharp focus on upping the experience. Much against the market practices, it allows the brand to command its terms.”

Providing details about the strategies adopted by his company, Narendra Motwani, Head, E-Commerce & Digital Marketing, Malabar Gold and Diamonds, said, “The decision to launch an omni-channel platform was based on data which indicated that more and more customers are searching for the brand online. They spend more than 35 minutes on the website, browsing at least 20 pages. This trend told us that before finalizing the product, they want to be sure of what they want to buy.

“As a strategy, we track those online consumers who visit the site two to three times for browsing our products but do not purchase anything and re-target them with advertisements, which show them our nearest outlet so that they visit the store. We do hyperlocal targeting for this segment of customers so that they visit the store at least once.”

Bhatta then concluded the session by saying that for retailers to identify and execute new ideas, the most important factor is to introduce a learning culture within the organization, one which allows retailers to rely more on data and information for decision-making, rather than relying solely on experience.