A disruptive idea often faces dissent before blooming. For a country where ‘holding the product in hands before purchasing’ holds precedence over everything else, it was quite obvious for naysayers to write off the destiny of eCommerce. Undoubtedly, the model is quite an audacious one to accept for the Indian populace that abides by the ‘touch and feel’ norm like a sincere school kid.
The speculations of trade pundits later moved on to different categories. Taking challenges head-on, the industry picked up the pace with even the unconventional categories such as lingerie, smartphones, larger appliances, furniture, and so forth. As opposed to the nascent belief, the eCommerce industry is thriving in India today. We are the fastest growing eCommerce market, pegged to grow approximately 1,200% by 2021.
But buying high-value investment products such as jewellery online could have raised a few eyebrows. Going by the general perception, people would not have felt comfortable investing in precious gems and metals without experiencing the end product. But eCommerce is quashing this notion like a pro. The segment is growing strength to strength, anticipated to reach USD 3.6 billion within three years.
So, what is aiding its growth?
A plethora of options/variety
Be it a solitaire wedding ring, exquisite necklace studded with Kundan or Polki, Temple, Jadau, fine, heavy, imitation, or other kinds of ornaments, jewellery marketplaces ensure you get everything under one roof. One does not have to wander helter-skelter in search of different types of adornments, as they do while showrooming. Not only this, online platforms are introducing apps for jewellers to expedite a product’s journey from showroom to the online catalogue. Maybe, a jewellery piece is being added online as one reads these lines. With so many options at your fingertips, where else would a customer like to go?
Online is the way to go
As per a report, an average Indian consumes 11 GB of data per month. Going by an Accenture report, 89% millennials claimed to have easy access to real-time information, which impacts their shopping choices. It further adds that the cohort goes for online shopping, even though they may examine the product offline before placing the order. It could be a major factor why leading jewellery brands want to transition online, despite having a huge presence as physical stores. Reviews on the product, after-sales service, etc. are add-ons. Expansive internet and smartphone penetration across cities are one of the biggest reasons why jewellery marketplaces are a hit amongst masses.
Broadly, omnichannel marketplaces will rule the future as there are still certain segments that like to go the traditional route of ‘try before you buy.’ For instance, a bride-to-be may want to wear the jewellery that complements her dress on her big day, for which she will most likely head for an offline store. The retailer that will put technology to the best use by seamlessly blending online and offline shopping journeys will have an upper hand over competitors.
Catchy discounts, schemes, cashback, etc. play a major role in attracting people. Today, customers will at least compare the price of an item online, although they may buy the product in-store. Discounts are where Etailers have an upper hand on traditional retailers. What makes this possible is the absence of overhead cost and investor’s money.
Digital showrooms do not have to pull down their shutters after a long day at work. They are up in the cloud, displaying articles and cracking sales 24*7 through its integrations with payment gateways. One does not have to rush into decision-making as happens with offline shops. No pushy salesman will get on your nerves to influence you for sale. In fact, it has also eased the process of returns and refunds. The aspect is however not turning out as profitable for businesses, which we shall touch upon later.
Robust quality control
Certain online marketplaces adhere to strict quality controls to reduce incidents of online frauds. For instance, one of the online shopping platforms does not allow selling used or pre-owned jewellery to eliminate the possibility of seller-generated scams. This instils a sense of confidence amongst the buyers to look forward to online shops as a trusted source for their needs.
New-age technologies such as virtual try-on are enabling customers to experience jewellery on themselves. Some brands allow 3D view within the try-on through sophisticated apps or send in dummy ornaments, in case of rings, before sealing the deal to trusted or loyal customers so they can pick up the right size for themselves. Brands are also going omnichannel to cater to the needs of all kinds of customers and simplify their purchase journey. Marketplaces allow a good return window in case a user dislikes the item.
The challenges ahead
Hands down, marketplaces are leaving no stone unturned to bring the best for the customers, be it about no questions asked returns policy or exchanging products at the doorstep without incurring additional cost to the customer. But the sentiment is not the same sometimes from the other end of the spectrum. Sellers often complain about receiving imitation products from the users as returns. Imagine sending a 24 karat gold earring to the customer and receiving a fake brass earring as a return. Also, people tend to exploit generous schemes by using the jewellery for an occasion and raising a return ticket post-event. Then, some sellers copy the designs of other brands which leads to brand infringement. These are serious issues which need a quick and foolproof resolution, going forward.
Right technological tools and balanced policy framework can foster a holistic environment for both sellers and buyers. After all, businesses can only serve customers better if it remains profitable. Trust is the core foundation of any relationship to strive, and it always works two-way. Rest assured, if you want to adorn fine jewellery for everyday use or look to purchase a heavy neckpiece in the yellow metal as an investment, your search ends here.