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8th Retail Jeweller India Forum 2021: Retail think tanks devise routes for post-Covid growth in jewellery

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Retail Jeweller India Forum 2021 held in Bengaluru

BENGALURU: Exploring the seamless opportunities of jewellery retail post-Covid, World Gold Council presents the 8th Retail Jeweller India Forum 2021 began as the enterprise’s first post-pandemic in-person forum show at Sheraton Grand Hotel Brigade, Rajaji Nagar, Bengaluru on September 14, 2021.

The knowledge forum commenced with Bijou Kurien, chairman, Retail Association of India, who spoke on the topic ‘Retail in a post Covid world’. Talking about how pandemic has affected retail experience, he said that buyers are spending on goods more than services. He stated that the pandemic took a toll on the tenure of experienced businesses, which were closed longer than product sales, thus diminishing the services business.

“Younger customers are conscious about whether we are overspending and wasting resources. Across the Indian jewellery industry, changes were observed in performances of national and regional brands. Buyers started trusting brand values more in terms of purchase. The brand play has become a lot stronger. Now product consistency is key,” said Kurien.

Highlighting how retail stores need to be back in shape, Kurien said that new goals are required with integration of digital SKUs to improve operations. This will increase transparency and trust, which are critical elements for customers, said he.

Devang Shah, KPMG

Moving on, Devang Shah, director, KPMG took over the podium on his topic titled digital adoption for jewellers: Covid and beyond’. Explaining that ‘digital’ is a modern-day avatar of all things internet and cloud, Shah said that over 70 crore Indians have internet. “As of 2021, we have 14 crore people buying goods online. Today, all kinds of categories can go online and revenue of e-commerce has gone higher. But the internet also affects operations through inventory analytics, which takes a lot of data at store level and helps you realise what you should reorder,” said Shah, adding that inventory analytics, robotic process automation also works good for digital alliances for workforce.

On sales and marketing, Shah busted myths such as digital revolution not affecting retail business. Digital commerce is not the same as e-commerce, said he, adding that retail heads should learn to adapt digital commerce without having to learn large software engineering skills. “One should read and learn from several e-courses in digital leadership to command control over digital processes in-store. The next step is to take external help through agencies and consultants to work in a better ecosystem. Place your investments carefully so that working capital is better managed,” Shah opined.

A panel session followed Shah’s presentation. Titled ‘2021-2030 A Decade of Home: How will Jewellery consumption trends transform in the future’ and moderated by Samit Bhatta, Publisher, Retail Jeweller Magazine, the session had Prasanna B, Thangamayil Jewellery Ltd., VastupalRanka, RankaJewellers, Maharashtra, Gaurav Anand, Anand Jewels, Bhopal and Indore, and PrabhatShekhar, Manoharlal Shah Saraf& Sons as speakers.

Talking about the future in jewellery, Prasanna shared the steps his brand has taken to boost demand amid pandemic. “We slashed values by 30%, gave team-based bonuses for boosting sales. Every brand was trying to lower costs, but we did the opposite. Thus, our sales triples from last October till now. In 2020, we did 32 events per month. Now, we do 96. By automating our supply chain, our new customer base has increased from 1-6%. So, execution is key in retail,” he maintained.

Shekhar talked about how efforts to bring customers back to the store by enhancing knowledge of back office sales department had enhanced footfall by 67% in Delhi. “We put a brief sales call wishing for family welfare of every customer. That has increased footfall by 57%,” said he. On consumption patterns post-Covid, Ranka talked about revamping major mass stocks to suit current requirements and planning social media strategy to reach people directly. “Our staffs started educating customers on navigating our online platforms. This year, we are having tenfold in customers in Akshay Tritiya and Gudi Padwa sales,” Ranka said. Gaurav Anand talked about how establishing the bran’s best retail showroom amid pandemic has helped ease cost and increase customer demand at times when the jewellery industry was struggling to stay afloat.

Thereafter, Sanjeev Agarwal, Director, Dvara SmartGold gave a detailed presentation underlining benefits of retailers by partnering with Dvara SmartGold, a young company promoting investment in gold and having penetration in over 4,500 towns and cities in India.

Retail Jeweller India Forum 2021

The next session was titled ‘Decoding The Great Indian Bridal Market: Understanding the changing nuances of bridal market in the post-Covid era’. Moderated by Retail Jeweller Magazine editor Soma Bhatta, the panel session comprised Ketan Choksi, Narayan Jewellers, Pratap Kamath, Abaran Timeless Jewellery, Kailash Kabra, KK Jewels and Priyesh Nagar, Madanlal Chhaganlal Jewellers.

“If bridal was important pre-Covid, it has become everything for the industry post-Covid,” said Bhatta as she asked Kamath to share insights on conversion opportunities in bridal post-Covid. Harping on digital and social media awareness, Kamath said that the initial fear of design plagiarism was overwritten with the sheer increase in brand value through social media promotion and collaboration with influencers such as Shraddha for a brand recall ad.

On building business in bridal, Kailash Kabra said that availability of good physical stock boosted sales in pandemic, as the bran created a traditional Pagla ceremony for the bride’s family to retain ceremonial excitement amid pandemic strictures. Talking about experience, Ketan Choksi discussed how appearances in fashion shows, red carpet sightings, global fashion publications and contribution of jewellery at Christie’s and Sotheby’s have upped the ante on global brand value.

On the post-Covid dynamics, Nagar pitched an important idea of jewellery brands diversifying as complete wedding jewellery planners to give the complete experience to customers. “With our umbrella brand, we have 37% more footfall. We integrated backward channel and collaborated with manufacturers by sharing data of products selling well. This boosted our stock thrice. Thanks to millennials, bridal jewellery share has rose from 30-65% now,” said Nagar. The panelists agreed on how regional designs are becoming truly global thanks to social media trends.

The next session was on ‘Millennial Gold: the new opportunity’ by Dhiaan Shakthi Shrinivasan and Nishtashri S., directors of Emerald Jewel Industry. Underlining the difference in mindsets of millennials and Gen-Z, Dhiaan talked about imbibing business ideas key for sustainable advantage. “About 80% of customers are willing to buy customised products. Again, about 1/3rd of Indian women have not bought gold jewellery. Bringing new customers to the jewellery space is more important than worrying about competition. 32% millennial women and Gen Z feel that gold jewellery doesn’t align with their self-expression. This number will go higher if the business doesn’t take note of this shift,” Dhiaan said.

On that note, Nishtashri S. unveiled the Stay Ahead campaign by Emerald Jewel Industry that promises state of the art technology and patented mechanisms for a seamless customer experience and precision in manufacturing. The Millennial Gold campaign by the brand grabbed attention of the audience thereafter with designs inspired from the inner voice of a woman. “Lightweight and realistic, the products flow with the user. They also rotate. Millennials constitute 70% of Indian women and the Millennial Gold campaign addresses their desires effectively,” said Nishtashri.

Biplove Belwal, RECIPROCI

The next session was ‘Experience Driven Online Retail: Building new solutions for recreating the magic of interactive retail selling’ of Biplove Belwal, founder, RECIPROCI. Citing example of Club Apparel’s strategies, Belwal showed how gamification can engage customers with valuable offerings on each touch point and get the customer to come to the showroom to redeem offerings.

Asheesh Malhotra, Dentsu Aegis Network

The next session was titled ‘How to create a robust differentiation in your brand persona’ by Asheesh Malhotra, executive VP, Dentsu Aegis Network. Malhotra cited examples of great brands in other industries such as Apple, Audi, BMW and Diesel who, with unique advertisement, have created differentiation in brand value over time. ChiragSoni, co-founder, SGL, in his session ‘Future of Diamonds and One Stop solution’, shed light on the bustling market of LGDs and how certification has become more important than ever to differentiate the products and co-exist.

The next session was titled ‘From footfalls to fingerfalls: How will customer expectations and convenience rule retail in the upcoming decade’. Meghna Saraogi, STYLEDOTME; Ganesh Subramaniam, STYLUMIA; Rahul Stone, Codilar Technologies and Niranjan Sridharan of SIMPLIFY360 empanelled the session.  The panelists discussed how AI and automation can enhance consumer experience today and encourage the trade for a holistic omnichannel experience even after returning to normalcy.

Arti Saxena, director and Head of Marketing, World Gold Council then spoke about the ‘You are gold’ campaign, designed to inculcate the ove of gold among the discerning millennial women through a 360 degree strategy of video commercials, social media, print ads and OTT.

Retail Jeweller India Forum 2021

The headline session titled ‘Agile leadership: strategic shift in business for managing risks, survival, and success in uncertain markets and future of jewellery business’ commenced shortly. The panelists were Ajoy Chawla, CEO Jewellery Division, Titan Company Limited, Vinod Hayagriv, MD-Director, CKC Group; Sunil Nayak, CEO, Reliance and Dipu Mehta, MD, ORRA Fine Jewellery.

Talking about how customers have responded to Covi uncertainties, Chawla said that the precious jewellery industry has thrived because of its connection with rituals and festivity, which makes it far more entrenched than a discretionary spending proposition. “We’ve been working on digital since last 3 years. Talking but not behaving omni, we see that the usual customer has adapted to digital well and interacts with us openly on social media now. Online, omni, remote, try at home and endless AI have contributed to 13% of business,” said Chawla.

Sunil Nayak said that Reliance’s expansion plan from remote Indian regions harps on a strong offering to customers, which promises longevity. “We have created collections based on 14 carat and 18 carat. Purchase no longer happens occasionally. Our theme ‘Be the moment’ gives customers a chance to shop once in 1-2 months in the low pocket category. The younger generation is fonder of adornment than jewellery,” said Nayak.

On factoring in the loss of market due to Covid, Mehta said that innovative chances given to customers for diamond purchase has brought about a hike in short-term demand and drove desirability for ORRA. “The ticket size went up to Rs1 lac and 2x-3x because of the EMI facility,” said Mehta. Talking about luxury consumption in Covid, Hayagriv said large-ticket sales are a world by itself and also depend on disclosures.

“There is a huge potential for high-value transactions. Retailers need to repose faith, because every consumer is looking for declarations. Consumers have been demanding for transparency,” said Hayagriv. Drawing inferences from the discussions, Chawla said that post-Covid, brands must walk their talk on design and authenticity. He cited the example of Zoya, which has factored in good growth in the last fiscal and also this year because the company facilitated the service to the customer’s home.

The panelists were unanimous to seek an industry-wide attention towards improving working conditions of karigars as a form of clean-up akin to what the government has been doing with the mandatory hallmarking law.

The future of jewellery industry is creative and promising. Mehta said that if the SOP of established brands and the drive of a startup combine, then growth is assured. Chawla said that attention to authenticity is an assured way of growth. With such takeaways inspiring for the jewellery industry, the 8th Retail Jeweller India Forum 2021 concluded with high hopes and energy.

Written by Shubham Dasgupta

RJ exclusive

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