How is retail jewellery evolving in coming times?

Social media was just the beginning, now it’s the super-powered smartphones, mobile salespeople, digital influence and the good old-fashioned storytelling. Find out how technological advancement has been shaping the retail jewellery business.

Very few would have estimated how the technology will change the retail landscape. Social media has replaced the sale flyers, mobile point-of-sale systems are usurping the cash wrap, and e-commerce is taking over the role of salesman.

The new form of digital mediums like social media, ipad apps, and retail gadgetry have changed the way products were sold and influenced some brilliant marketing techniques that influences the current retail jewellery industry. The gems and jewellery industry plays an important role in the Indian economy. India is the largest market for gold jewellery in the world. Gold dominates the Indian jewellery market and formulates almost 80 per cent of the market share, which is followed by fabricated studded jewellery including diamond and gemstone studded jewellery. Further, India has emerged as the largest cutting and polishing industry for diamonds in the world.

Retailers of the industry are adopting new ways of marketing for leveraging their sales. Recently, a change has been observed in the consumer preferences and shopping habits. The extensive use of the new mediums has increased brand awareness about the product among the consumers. Internet has been driving the awareness that leads to sales. India has witnessed a substantial increase in the number of internet who uses the internet. This has opened a whole new channel of retailing in Indian retail scenario.

Online Jewellery Retail surges

There was a time when gold jewellery or diamonds and other precious stones were only bought from the trusted family jeweller. Now the trend is changing, with more people open to buying jewellery online. “Online jewellery retail in India is at a very nascent stage but poised for huge growth . India has never before been so open to buying jewellery online like what we have seen in the recent times – jewellery is the largest selling product on eBay India,” Vidya Nataraj, co-founder, bluestone.com, said.

“It is mostly branded jewellery, gems-studded jewellery, jewellery for fashion, lightweight designs and their wearability that fuel the demand of jewellery throughout the year,” said Nataraj. In the real jewellery segment, Bluestone, Caratlane and Tanishq are some of the names we can think of. Companies like Bluestone are addressing concerns such as quality, and accessibility – through pre-sales queries via customer care wing, and then sending dummy rings for size verification to lower post sale hassles (return rates).

he Classic Brick-and-Mortar Jewelry Store Will Evolve

A change in the shopping environments in other consumer categories has been observed lately. However, the brick-and-mortar jewellery store, defined by glass cases and security detail, hasn’t progressed much in the past century—which makes luring stimuli-seeking customers into physical locations more of a challenge. “The store is not going to look like the store as we know it four or five years from now,” ­predicts Piers Fawkes, editor-in-chief of PSFK.com, a creative think tank that publishes annual retail-industry reports. If everyone is shopping online, “retailers will have to decide what the use of their store is, what makes the in-store experience a preferred part of their journey.” Big box retailers already have started offering incentives for in-store shoppers. Target, for example, now stocks products in its stores that aren’t available anywhere else.

Experts agree that keeping your store vital in the digital retail age means implementing a business strategy that relies on in-store and online technologies working in tandem with one another. Diamond brand Hearts On Fire debuted new concept stores this year in Taiwan and Las Vegas that reinvent the glass-case mode of selling jewelry with wall-mounted “jewel boxes” that employees and shoppers experience side by side—not across a counter from each other. The stores also feature a touch-screen “knowledge wall” that allows consumers to read about the company, plus a virtual catalog that sends items of their choosing to a virtual jewelry tray, which a staffer then delivers to a desk for try-ons.

The millennial generation has proved they like to shop with mobile devices in hand and without sales staff hovering nearby. And other consumer categories are tailoring their in-store experience to reflect this. The concept of introducing mobile devices in hand is also introduced by the Indian retailers. Getting techno, Ulhas Jewellers, well-known retailer in Goa, offers guests an iPad for browsing through a plethora of designs offered by them. The digital catalogue provides complete specification including the MRP of the products. There are many other leading jewellers who have been following the same, the convenience of viewing the designs over i-pad or tablet elevates the customer experience.

 Jewelry Prototypes Will Replace Live Jewellery with the Help of Technology

Virtual catalogue is the latest addition, where customers can use the new technology to use the prototypes instead of real jewellery. This helps to maintain the transparency level between the jewellers and customers. It permits the jewellers to experiment with more ranges as there is no urgency to present the piece manually.

Shawn Montgomery, executive director of business development for jewelry and equipment manufacturer Stuller, says “Our industry is accepting the use of prototypes in a more prevalent way than ever. Five years ago, maybe one out of every 25 retailers used them. Now it’s more like 13 out of 20. Retailers understand that you can’t stock a million dollars’ worth of business to sell a million dollars’ worth of business.”

The trend of putting CAD software in full view—not squirreling it away in a backroom—is adding to prototypes’ appeal, says Montgomery, because alterations to an existing ring can be rendered photo-realistically in seconds: “The independent jeweler can make that customer feel confident with the software. It’s not ‘Let me draw you a picture of what it will look like.’ It’s ‘Here’s exactly what it will look like.’ ”

Velvetcase.com in India, is first of its kind hybrid commerce platform started with a passion to deliver a complete customized and transparent fine jewellery buying experience to consumers in India and worldwide. The founders Runit Shah and Kapil Hematsaria are the ones who are introducing a virtual jewellery experience in India. It is a unique user interface where the customer can “wear” the jewellery online just like an electronic mirror is one of the pioneering initiatives by the portal. Runit Shah, refers to this experience as the ‘augmented reality’, he explains, “In this feature, the person will be able to experience the jewellery piece, for example ring on his own finger or hand. This is to enhance the real-time experience, which will help customers select the designs bias-free.” Right now the feature is available for rings, bracelets and pendants. High resolution images of each product with 360 degree video are available on the site that enables user to know he pays for what he gets!

Social Media Will Become More Targeted

The social media has completely transformed the marketing techniques used by the retailers. Traditional workhorses like local newspapers advertisements, leaflets, outdoor campaigns, television and radio campaigns and YouTube now coexist in marketing toolbox alongside Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Social media marketing platforms like Facebook have not only opened the means of marketing the product but also encouraged interaction with the customers, which was impossible a generation ago. Tarun Durga, COO of Cornerstone Digital – A digital company that handle social media marketing for corporate, says, “The client doesn’t need to walk-in to the retail outlet, you can get the products displayed on the Facebook page which in turn encourages the client to discuss about the products.”