In the race to win consumers, VelvetCase.com, an online destination for jewellery, will be introducing ‘Shop By Looks’ feature this week to help consumers decide which look to carry with a particular jewellery piece.
CEO, VelvetCase.com, Kapil Hetamsaria told Indiaretailing Bureau in an exclusive interview: “One of the most cool features that we are launching is called Shop By Looks. We will allow consumers when they look at a product to say with this product these are various looks that I can wear and dress up but yet go to this basic look. This entire concept is something going to be really interesting when it launches.”
Apart from the new feature, Velvetcase has also put into place, a new policy. They have decided not to offer any more discounts on their portal starting last month (November 2016). The idea says Hetamsaria, is rooted in the fact that jewellery is not something people would buy more of if discounts were offered, or stop buying if there were no discounts.
Explaining the concept further, he said, “In November, the brand moved away from discounts. So, if you go on Velvetcase, you see something called One Price Best Price guarantee. Every single product has only one price. We do not do discounting because we fundamentally believe that jewellery is not a category where the consumer is going to buy or not buy because of discount. If the value is great and the look is great, they will likely pay.”
Blast From The Past
The multi-brand jewellery platform has earlier also introduced a few other unique features which helped the brand stand apart from competitors.
Instead of opting for customer care executives, Velvetcase began appointing trained jewellery designers to answer customer queries, suggesting what best suits people as per their requirement and budget.
According to Hetamsaria: “A random call centre person who does not have domain knowledge does not talk to the consumer when they call us. Our executives are trained jewellery designers who understand exactly what jewellery is and therefore are able to advise the clients as compared to just sell to clients.”
The brand also introduced the home trials feature on its platform. However, the services are available only in three metro cities – Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru.
“We are trying to enable home trials city-by-city using the network that we have. For example, right now we have home trials in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. So if you go to Velvetcase’s home trial section, there is a tag for Delhi, you click on Delhi, those are all the pieces of jewellery which are actually available from our jeweller network in Delhi and that can actually be shown to you in a more easy manner.”
“Over time, we will continue to expand trial services to other cities. We see that about seven cities in the country contribute to close to two-thirds of our traffic and revenue. The goal first is to actually get these enabled and successful as a model in these seven and then go on through,” he said.
Growing Over Time
The brand – which targets young, modern and professional women, and was introduced as a bridge between the ever-growing demands of the consumers and the traditional mindset of the retail jeweller – has grown over a period of roughly four years.
Velvetcase embraced technology as a platform to allow consumers to discover pieces which are available all over the country.
Hetamsaria said, “For first 12-18 months, we were trying to figure out how online jewellery as a category work, whether people are comfortable buying something so expensive online without the benefit of touch and feel, and what is the minimum amount of time that we can take sort of deliver pieces to consumers without inventory. Also, we had to work out logistics. We were actually working through the basic infrastructure of the business.”
“But over the last year and half, we have seen tremendous amount of growth and canvas expansion. We moved to a marketplace model and today we offer everything from silver, gold, platinum, diamond, gemstones, pearls to uncut diamonds.”
Shifting to a Marketplace Model
The online jeweller pivoted to a marketplace model in August last year to reach more customers in a business dominated by well-funded players such as Tiger Global-backed Caratlane and Ivy Capital-backed Bluestone.
As expected, post shifting to marketplace model, the brand has been able to capture a much larger share of the consumer’s wallet.
“The biggest impact that we have seen post shifting to marketplace model is that we seen a much better repeat consumer purchase happen on the site,” revealed Hetamsaria.
The brand that caters to every small town in India post shifting to marketplace model, has presence in international market as well.
Hetamsaria said, “We have exported to about 15 countries. US is obviously our largest market outside India. UK, Singapore, Dubai and Malaysia is our next best countries where we have exported. Apart from that we have customer base in Canada, France, Hong Kong and Singapore to name a few.”
As jewellery is old traditional category in India, it has a lot of importance both personal and emotional in the mind of Indian and international consumers.
“NRI is obviously a nice client and potential consumer for us. The reason being that they are naturally inclined towards jewellery when they think about India. We are piloting a few experiments on the marketing side in terms of cracking the targeting of that segment,” revealed Hetamsaria.
He further added, “But without making any marketing spend internationally, it has been fantastic market from the standpoint of the fact about 10 per cent of our sales come from abroad.”
Funding environment is a tricky one as a lot of momentum theory happens in investment horizons. Over the last 3-6 months the outlook for the investors has actually changed as they are looking for a lot more profitability, a lot more sustainable business than simply sales.
Seeing the potential of the online jewellery destination, marquee investors in the industry invested in Velvetcase in June this year. The company has been utilising these funds to build their technology.
“We raised funds for building our technology. We have brought technology complete in house now, we have built a ten per cent tech team. The team is completely driving our consumer experience as well as our portal for more partners to come on board,” revealed Hetamsaria.
He further added, “We are not looking at raising funds immediately. We are right now looking at building the business and consolidating but I think next year would be a good time some time. Through this amount, there will be a push towards marketing but I think fundamentally we will continue to invest in marketing and technology.”
The brand, 60-70 per cent of whose revenue comes from precious and custom-made jewellery, has no plans to go Omnichannel.
Hetamsaria explained, “Omnichannel from a perspective from our own stores is not on the priority list right now. The reason being that we have a very strong network of retailers who are anyway part of our platform and those are physical locations that we can try and leverage to create an Omnichannel experience or experience for the consumers instead of building our own stores.”
Affects of Demonetization
The platform that offers more than a lakh designs and has a average ticket size of about Rs 25,000 – Rs 28,000 has experienced a positive impact of demonetization.
Hetamsaria said, “Demonetization has had a positive impact on our business. Because in general the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to get every sector more organised than it currently is and as fragmentation reduces and organised jewellery brands become more and more popular, we stand to actually gain.”
The brand’s real differentiator lies in technology applied to the jewellery industry. And going ahead Velvetcase plans to invest in technology and marketing.
According to Hetamsaria, “We will continue investing in technology and marketing. Technology will be primarily towards making sure that the life of our consumer and the life of our partner are both actually made really easy. We will continue to hire and build teams, stronger and better people. And in terms of marketing, we are actually looking at expanding channels for marketing whether it is home-trials, after delivery service or exploring new opportunities.
The online jewellery martketplace that works with 400 brands, sellers and designers on a revenue sharing basis – which varies between 5 per cent to 15 per cent based on the material of the product – has plans to take it to 1,000 by March.
It is also looking toward doubling revenue from last last fiscal which stood at Rs 24 crore.