Jewellery Retail’s Next Battlefield: The Digital Buyer

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Siddharth Bafna Director, RC Bafna Jewellers
Siddharth Bafna Director, RC Bafna Jewellers

For over a long time, the Indian jewellery retail market had operated in a relatively insulated environment. The unorganised nature of the industry and lack of competition diversity meant that jewellers have not been challenged to innovate as in other industries. But this won’t be the case for much longer. Speaking with Jewelpedia, SIDDHARTH BAFNA, Director, RC BAFNA JEWELLERS (est. 1974), shared his thoughts on how jewellers are differentiating themselves on more than just product and pricing and the role of digital in revolutionising the customer experience in the jewellery retail sector. 

 

What transformations have you seen in jewellery retailing that have had the most impact in recent times?

With the time spent by consumers in the digital world increasing every day, consumers today have access to a greater amount of information from around the world. Global trends are recognised faster, and consumers are keen to follow them. Social media plays a major part in bringing these trends and designs to the consumer, further prompting their desire for the same.

Customization of jewellery has picked up in recent times, with more customers requesting personal touches to their jewellery. These can include engraving of special dates, names, or other significant moments of the customer’s life. 

How are millennials and Gen Z influencing the jewellery space and what should jewellery retail houses do to attract them to walk into a store?  

Millennials and Gen Z have been observed to be choosy in their selection of jewellery. Opting for lightweight and minimalistic jewellery over heavier pieces, except for wedding purchases, these generations have made it clear that they prefer convenience over style. As these customers are social-media active, approaching them through digital marketing is necessary.

Influencers play a major role in setting trends in the jewellery segment and it is imperative that jewellery houses realise the potential of the influencers’ contribution in approaching the consumer. The evolving sphere of digital marketing has made great strides in reducing the gap between the seller and the buyer. With this jewellery retail houses can approach their ideal segment in a better fashion and with greater effectiveness. 

“The evolving sphere of digital marketing has made great strides in reducing the gap between the seller and the buyer. With this, jewellery retail houses can approach their ideal segment in a better fashion and with greater effectiveness.”

Today, the consumer’s path to purchase a jewellery piece is becoming increasingly digitalised. How can jewellery retailers enhance the physical shopping experiences to ensure sales? How has it been implemented at your company?

Rendering a balance between traditional and digital pre-sales strategy is currently one of the pressing issues in the industry. While the process of purchasing jewellery in India has been focused on experiencing the jewellery in real-time, today consumers are more tech-savvy and require quick solutions.

Thus, we have made it a point to reach our consumers through some digital media approaches as well, one of them being social media. It helps us in communicating with them directly and also aids us in being on their shortlist of jewellers whenever they want to make any purchase decision. Another step that we have taken to approach our consumers in the digital space is by making our mobile application (RC Bafna, available on iOS and Android) and Website (rcbafnajewellers.com) available to them. 

These platforms are as good as an online shop where the consumer can visit and browse our designs anytime they want. They can also look out for our current gold rates and our latest collections. Our mobile application is also equipped with our Virtual Reality feature – ‘Try On’, which helps the user virtually experience the piece of jewellery by seeing how it will look on her.

Sales of other luxury products and services are overpowering the sales of jewellery, as the young population prefers a new gadget or spending on niche experiences? Could you elaborate on how the jewellery industry should tackle this issue? 

We are aware of these changes in perception, which we believe will change the way the industry functions in the future. One of the initiatives that we have taken to educate Gen Z consumers is by publishing a series of blogs on the importance of investing one’s savings in Gold. From the global demand it holds to its being a highly liquid asset, the advantages of gold ownership are the focus points of our blogs. 

With brands and retailers shifting their focus to digital, what does this mean for the future of brick-and-mortar stores? How will the role of the store change?

Ratanlal C. Bafna Jewellers - Pune Showroom
Ratanlal C. Bafna Jewellers – Pune Showroom

Brick-and-mortar stores are irreplaceable in the jewellery industry in my opinion. Our products are of high value and customers wish to see, touch and feel the products before making any purchase decision. While items with less differentiation like coins and other gift articles up to a price range of Rs. 20-25,000 have a better rotation on online mediums, the bigger purchases take place solely at the stores. In case of these big purchases, digital stores help the business in reaching out to more potential active consumers and play a major role in the pre-sales cycle. 

According to you, while embracing physical shopping experiences, what jewellery retailers can learn from the online model to engage their consumers?

One of the biggest advantages of using the digital medium has been experiencing and implementing Client Intelligence. This has helped online players understand the customer’s likes and dislikes and suggest items for purchase accordingly. Learning from this, the next level of service that we, as jewellers can provide is by remembering the specific tastes and preferences of our customers. Encouraging customisation of jewellery as an add-on benefit is another advantage that we can implement from online experiences.

Today, buyers face abundant choices in an evolving jewellery market and brand value is being redefined. How can jewellers navigate the complexities of the saturated market and position their organisation for the shopper of the future?

The shopper of the future would need basic education about jewellery and gold itself. Right now people pay a premium for trust, which means they are ready to pay extra for their lack of product knowledge. Our aim is to bridge this gap in knowledge and make our consumers aware of the product. 

We are a three-generation old business and we believe that helping the consumers make an informed decision about jewellery purchase would only help us in the long run. We would be happy even if consumers come to us to understand a few more things about jewellery as we wish to be associated as the jewellery consultants for the shopper of the future, not just as another retailer in the country. 

The jewellery market is currently a very discount and price-oriented one, where customers are more focussed on prices. We believe that the future of jewellery shopping will be all about value-added services, like offering insurance on every piece purchased, thereby assuaging the customers from their fear of losing it. 

“The shopper of the future would need basic education about jewellery and gold itself. Right now people pay a premium for trust, which means they are ready to pay extra for their lack of product knowledge. Our aim is to bridge this gap in knowledge and make our consumers aware of the
product.”

Looking at the changing consumer behaviours, what are your top three strategic priorities at the moment?

Through observing the changing dynamics of the consumers and understanding their needs and desires, our top strategic priorities are:
1. Becoming more active in the digital space in order to reach out to more potential consumers.
2. Empowering the consumers by providing greater knowledge on jewellery.
3. And becoming proactive in identifying the changing consumer needs.

(In conversation with Praveer Sinha, Editor, Jewelpedia – [email protected])

 

 

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