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Debut edition of Retail Jeweller South Forum focuses on maximizing profit, new tech and the changing consumer

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Debut edition of Retail Jeweller South Forum focuses on maximizing profit, new tech and the changing consumer
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From panels on innovative retail strategies and transformative technology to redefining the role of silver in the industry, the inaugural edition of the forum offered valuable insights into the dynamics of the jewellery market in South India

Bengaluru: The inaugural Retail Jeweller South Forum made its debut on April 5, 2024, at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Bengaluru, resonating with the discerning jeweller fraternity of South India. It brought together 200+ participants including leading retailers from the region and had a line-up of more than 35 speakers from various segments of the jewellery industry. The forum aimed to explore and address key challenges, trends and opportunities shaping the retail jewellery landscape of South India.

After the inaugural lighting of the lamp ceremony by Samit Bhatta, Publisher, Retail Jeweller India, Chetan Kumar Mehta, Managing Director, Laxmi Diamonds, Gautam Kothari, Chairman and Founder, MRK Gold and Vivek Das, Co-founder of Synergics Solutions Private Ltd, the first session of the forum ‘Why ‘business as unusual’ is imperative in jewellery retail’ set the tone for the day.

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Moderated by Shivaram, Director, Retail Gurukul, the panelists – Satvik Kamath, Director, Abharan Jewellers Pvt.Ltd, Raghav Meghraj, Director, Zaveri Bros Diamonds, Tanvi Singhi, Marketing Director, Konika Jewellery, Milit Agarwal, Partner, Krishna Pearls & Jewellers, Mohak Gupta, Owner, Darpan Mangatrai Pearls & Jewellers, Mohammed Dilshad, MD, City of Gold, Meethi Surana, Marketing Director, Raj Diamonds and Vijay Davanam, Davanam Jewellers, emphasized the need for businesses to embrace innovation and unconventional strategies. Discussions revolved around the importance of aspirational and experiential purchases, with panelists highlighting initiatives from mobile showroom experiences and niche product offerings to omni-channel integrations in their business.

Following the dynamic youth session, Vivek Das led an engaging session titled ‘Technology Transformations: Integrating technology deployment with change management for holistic tech adoption’ which focused on the challenges and solutions associated with technology adoption in jewellery retail. He highlighted the importance of vertical-specific service providers in contrast to generic ERPs, emphasizing the need for domain knowledge and personalized solutions.

He stressed the critical role of accurate data for AI implementation, advocating seamless integration across channels and efficient franchisee management. “In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, leveraging accurate data is paramount for informed business strategies. Robust ERP solutions play a pivotal role in facilitating scalability and intelligent software utilization, empowering businesses to adapt and thrive in the digital age,” Das said.

It was followed by an interesting session titled ‘Is the South Indian Bride Beyond the North-South Debate?’ moderated by Shivaram, with Neerav Challa, Head of Merchandising, PMJ Gems & Jewels, Sharath Shet, Director, S.L. Shet Diamond House, Sultan Mohideen, CEO, Sultan Gems & Fine Jewellery, Gurmukh Singh, Director, Neelkanth Gold and Diamonds, Akshay Sebastian Mattathil, Co-founder, M.O.D Signature Jewellery, Anoop Chemmanur, MD, Chemmanur Group of Companies and D.V. Ramesh, CEO, Davanam Jewellers as panelists to discuss the modern South Indian bride, the influence of cultural and celebrity trends on her jewellery choices, and her inclination towards diverse styles and designs. The session concluded with a call to jewellers to adapt their offerings to the evolving tastes of the modern bride.

The post-lunch session of the Retail Jeweller South Forum was rejuvenated by the headline speaker Shivaram, who led a thought-provoking session named ‘South Indian Market: People, Products, Processes and Profits’ focused on strategies for enhancing profitability in the jewellery business. He stressed the importance of connecting with customers by understanding local demographics and tailoring designs accordingly. He urged the audience to innovate and explore new avenues, leveraging mobile platforms like Snapchat for marketing.

Drawing inspiration from successful events like the Dubai festival, he encouraged retailers to consider hosting similar events locally. “In most cases, only 30% of your total customer base are your loyal customers, and 33% of your stock is dead. Analyzing ageing reports and investing in staff training and good compensation are crucial steps to unlock the full potential of a business. Employees play a pivotal role, and it’s essential to create a supportive and incentivized work environment to drive success,” said Shivaram.  

Another powerful session moderated by Urish Chhajed, Head of Operations, Nikhaar Jewels and titled ‘Transforming the Diamond Discourse’ centred on the changing discourse around diamonds, particularly the growing prominence of lab-grown diamonds. Panelists, all legacy retailers in the diamond industry, including Siddhant AVR, Director, AVR Swarnamahal Jewellery, Neeraj Kumar, Owner, Suraj Bhan Jewellers, Chetan Kumar Mehta, Laxmi Diamonds, Prem Sunny, Director of Operations, Sunny Diamonds, Manish Jain, MD, Sri Ganesh Diamonds & Jewellery, concluded that the way forward is the co-existence of lab-grown and natural diamonds. They highlighted the need for industry acceptance and catering to customer preferences based on budget and ethical considerations.

Next came a session on ‘Revolutionizing Jewellery Retail with Cutting-Edge Tech’ focused on technology-enabled solutions for jewellery retail. It was moderated by Ganesh Subramanian, Founder and CEO, Stylumia. Speakers Sankalp Goyal, CEO & Founder, Book My Diamonds, Abhijit Lalgondar, Business Head, Saleswizz, Sridevi Reddy, Co-Founder and Director, Zithara Technologies Pvt Ltd and Nilesh Rathod, CEO, Atmosphere emphasized the importance of leveraging technology for customer retention and enhancing business innovation, and addressing challenges faced by small and medium enterprises. Panelists also talked about the significance of transparency, experimentation and data-driven decision-making in driving business success.

In the final panel discussion titled ‘Is silver the new gold?’ moderated by Samit Bhatta, representatives of prominent silver jewellery brands decoded the emerging prominence of silver as a viable alternative to gold. Panelists Shri Charran, Co-founder, The Amethyst Store, Priyanka Vemuluri, Founder & CEO, Goyaz Silver Jewellery, Vikranth Kocher, Proprietor, Silver Palace, Chaitanya V Cotha, Executive Director, C. Krishniah Chetty Group, Nishanth Dinesh, CEO, Ivanah Jewels and Keshava Prasad Muliya, Chairman, Silveriya of Muliya Jewels shared insights into their respective journeys in the industry, highlighting a shift in consumer preference towards more affordable yet fashionable options. The discourse emphasized the need for standardization, including the implementation of mandatory hallmarking to ensure quality assurance. They also spoke of steps such as incorporating lab-grown diamonds to enhance product offerings and appeal to a broader market. 

Extending his support to the Retail Jeweller South Forum, Goutham Kothari, Founder and Chairman, MRK Gold, said, “It is very important for the jewellery industry to stand united and work on innovations that can help us grow and give better service to our customers. This forum is an eye-opener, offering valuable insights into our industry’s workings and how we can move ahead.”

The event concluded with an awards ceremony honouring trail-blazers across 19 categories pertaining to the South Indian jewellery market. 

The Retail Jeweller South Forum had De Beers and Synergics Solutions Pvt Ltd as presenting partners, and MRK Gold as associate partner. The event was powered by the Jewellers’ Association of Bengaluru and provided a platform for industry professionals to exchange ideas, gain valuable insights and chart a path forward in the South Indian jewellery industry. 

Written by Maithili Patange

Retail Jeweller India Exclusive

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