The online jewellery segment has evolved rapidly in the past few years and the sector is poised to reach close to 2 per cent of the overall jewellery market in India in five years. Founder and CEO, BlueStone.com, Gaurav Kushwaha talks about how they are breaking the barriers by getting first-time online consumers to buy from BlueStone. He also reveals that how customers are developing a fondness for casual jewellery and the importance of marketing, the reason they got current Bollywood heartthrob Alia Bhatt on-board to endorse their brand.
How do you see the present jewellery market in India in terms of size and growth potential? How do you gauge this market in next five years?
The online jewellery sector in India has grown rapidly in the recent years and is projected to become a US $2 billion market by 2022. The market, which has been dominated by the unorganized sector, has undergone a transformation in recent times. Revenues of organised jewellery retailers are expected to grow at five-six per cent, almost double the overall industry growth of three per cent.
Relaxation of gold import policies have given a fillip to the market and we believe that GST will help create a stronger and more vibrant organized market. Customer demands have also been changing and gone are the days of buying heavy jewellery that is used for one occasion and stored in a locker. People are looking for more wearable jewellery in a variety of new designs which they can flaunt more often. Organized players are well positioned to tap into the changing customer needs.
Give us insights into the brand’s approach towards Omnichannel retailing?
We believe that a holistic approach can benefit a single category brand like ours, where customers like to touch, feel and try the product before making a purchase. We are currently enabling this customer need through our popular ‘Try At Home’ service where a BlueStone executive is available to visit a customer at a place and time of their convenience.
We will initially look to create our first experience store in Bengaluru, our largest market, before expanding to other locations.
Are there any unique initiatives you have taken online (regarding social media, e-commerce, etc.)? How are you leveraging the online space to boost your revenues and customer connect?
BlueStone has a very active presence across all prominent social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter which not only engages with customers and followers but also acts as a two-way channel to receive feedback.
A host of our latest collections are first showcased across these platforms to offer exclusivity as well which has helped drive deeper connect with our base.
What percentage of your revenues come from e-commerce currently, and what revenue targets do you have from e-commerce over the next few years?
Given that we are an online brand, all our revenues currently come through the e-commerce route. We are targeting revenues of Rs 1,000 crore in the next two or three years.
Which are the present trends of the industry? Can you separately segregate the market of gold, silver and platinum retailing? Which metal seems to be ruling the market?
Customers are shopping for more casual jewellery that can be worn often and on different occasions. While wedding jewellery ticket sizes are still the largest, we are seeing a lot more shoppers choosing multiple, smaller pieces.
India is predominantly a gold jewellery market but the younger generation is experimenting with new designs and metals. Platinum jewellery has made strong in-roads, growing at a rate of about 23-25 per cent over the past couple years.
What are the latest trends you are noticing in today’s consumers in general? What kind of products are in vogue?
Design and wearability are the key factors that people are looking for today and as a result there is a strong demand for light-weight fine jewellery. With access to global trends, today’s shopper is looking for design inspirations from overseas. We are witnessing a growing demand for stacked finger rings, multi-finger rings, multi-use/ reversible pendants, detachable earrings among other fashionable jewellery. Diamond and coloured precious stones are in vogue and we see that continuing to grow in the coming years in India.
Precious jewellery buying is based on building loyal customers. How have you put your strategies to attract the buyers?
BlueStone.com has been in the market for five years and has been growing each year. All our 5,000+ pieces of jewellery comes with quality assurance and certificate of authenticity. Along with this, we offer a 30-day money back guarantee and lifetime exchanges. Coupled with our ‘Try At Home’ service, customers can make an informed choice without any regrets.
How has this fiscal year shaped up so far and what kind of growth rate do you expect over the next couple of years?
2016-17 has been a good year overall for BlueStone.com. Our annualised run rate is currently around the Rs 300 crore mark and we are on target to achieve 2020 target.
What will be the marketing strategy for BlueStone in future?
BlueStone.com is a relatively young brand and the fine jewellery marketplace is an extremely competitive one, with local family jewellers vying with larger organised brands for a consumers’ business. Our marketing focus is two-fold – a) raising brand awareness and b) building trust, given that fine jewellery purchases are often driven by this key parameter.
To help scale brand awareness, we have recently signed on Bollywood star Alia Bhatt and have laid out an extensive marketing plan to leverage her presence across TV, outdoor and print platforms.
What are the challenges for BlueStone presently?
Jewellery continues to be a very emotional purchase for many households. We are currently breaking this barrier and aiming to bring more first-time shoppers online.
How do you see the online retail jewellery business to grow in the next five years?
We believe that online jewellery market will grow from current levels 0.2-0.3 per cent to about 2 per cent of the overall jewellery market in India in the next 5 years.
What kind of services you are providing to customers to make up for the touch and feel experience?
Our ‘Try at Home’ service has been designed to help give customers an opportunity to choose from a variety of designs and try them on in the comfort and privacy of their own home. The service is extremely popular with our customers and about
25 per cent of our business comes from this service.
Have you raised any funds recently, who all have invested in BlueStone?
We have raised a total of US $60 million from multiple investors with the last round of US $30 million led by IIFL, Iron Pillar and Accel along with Kalaari Capital, RB Investments and IvyCap Ventures.
How you manage to give next day delivery and you also provide free worldwide shipping and transit, how you manage it?
Close to 70 per cent of all our deliveries are managed by our in-house logistics team which helps in driving maximum efficiencies. This also enables us to offer next day deliveries in select cities.