Since the past year the world has had a massive learning experience and faced several challenges. Business units have had to suffer losses, difficulties in supply chain, lack of demand, sudden spurt in demand and the whole business cycle seems to have lost its balance. All the same these challenges have taught each one different lessons. Some were easy, some weren’t so easy – the world has emerged stronger and the G & J business has learnt to count its blessings and lead a more disciplined and stringent business life.
“I think when such challenges come forth—the world usually emerges stronger than ever. We have learnt to accentuate our digital presence. Jewellery buying was always a physical experience – clients were eager to touch and feel the jewellery – they have learnt to channelize their demands through the internet and video calls. In Himachal Pradesh the situation is not as bad in the bigger metro cities. All the same, fear and anxiety among masses is high and therefore despite no government-imposed lockdown there is a 20 per cent decline in demand. We are gearing up in several ways to overcome these challenges,” explains Akshay Verma, Verma Jewellers, Himachal Pradesh.
Supply has been hindered because of lockdown in Mumbai and other metro cities. While according to Saket Keshri of Ratnalaya Jewellers, Patna, “We have our manufacturing unit, but we need to source some items from Mumbai and Delhi and since these cities are under lockdown – we do face some difficulty in explaining to our clients. Especially in case of platinum jewellery, supply issues are there. We are managing somehow, by suggesting alternatives to clients.”
These situations have brought about the beginning of a digital revolution of sorts in the G & J industry – which till now had shied away from technology. Today, it has become a tech-savvy industry where sales are being conducted over video calls. AR and VR revolution is taking the industry by storm. “We are active on social media. We have over a lakh of followers on FB and Instagram. Social media and digital is the way to go in order to target the youth. Indian youth is increasingly on social media and brides too usually check out jewellery designs online. Therefore, we have made it a point to make our presence felt on the digital platform. This has worked in our favour. We are also in the process of setting up a call centre – which will call all our existing clients – primarily enquiring about their health and then moving on to their jewellery requirements – when they had last visited our store and what is it that they would like to buy. We will also be reaching out to potential clients,” informs Verma. In these times of lockdown and social distancing, loneliness and the need to talk to people and be heard is much greater. Business is also about compassion and strengthening the human bond. “We are working three days in a week and that too from 10 am to 6 pm, therefore sales have come down to that extent. So we have focused our attention to calling customers, just talking to them about their wellbeing, listening to them and then gradually telling them about our newest range of products – our specialties and more,” explains Keshri. This has helped Ratnalaya Jewellers strengthen their bond with clients. Saket Keshri also talks to his vendors, channel partners and business associates and refurbishes their connections. He believes firmly in the power of being humane in such trying times and that reflects in increase in business as well.
According to Verma, “We believe in growing together and never have been involved in the competitive rat race. We are our own competition. I study the industry by reading a lot and understanding the best practices of this industry. I have noticed that digital intervention is the key to progress in our industry. We cannot do without it. Our presence on social media, video calls with clients and business associates, networking and participating in online meetings are all important aspects of business development and during challenging times, these things become all the more important.”
Gold is not a luxury
G & J industry is the country’s prime contributor to GST, income tax, and thereby national GDP. The huge network of jewellers spread out throughout the country has been instrumental in making gold an essential commodity and not merely a luxury. “Today even a poor man will buy some gold to gift his daughter on her wedding day. He will buy a gold mangalsutra, or chain or ring for the bride and the groom. For rest of the world, buying gold may be a luxury – but in India it is a necessity. Gold is an integral part of our tradition. Families preserve gold and hand it down from one generation to another. Therefore irrespective of the uncertainties and challenges that the world may face, when the time is right and stores re-open people will come forward to buy jewellery,” asserts Vijay Khanna, Khanna Jewellers, Delhi.
Change is the only constant
Change is thing that remains constant and more so in business. Gems and jewellery industry is coming to terms with the changes imposed by the current challenges – the industry sprung back in action last year, when the lockdown was lifted. This year too it will. “Business cycles always shift gears. Last year we all have experienced a new business trend. We have perhaps for the first time in Indian business sector experienced ‘revenge buying.’ When lockdown was lifted, business had picked up tremendously and outdone the previous year’s sales figures as well,” recalls Khanna. What needs to be done during these trying times, is not to let the uncertainty dampen your spirit and keep working towards maintaining a good social media presence, introduce technological innovations and believe that the best is yet to come.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
- * Work on updating client list
- * Be in constant touch with clients and business associates
- * Maintain an effective social media presence
- * Spend on effective target-based advertising
- * Maintain a balanced inventory
- * Keep your staff motivated
- * Invest wisely in technological updates
Khanna sums up saying, “One cannot say that the situation is easy to deal with. Weddings are being postponed, supply has been hampered. Business has been at its lowest in this quarter. All the same, this too shall pass and the industry will witness a boom when lockdown is lifted.”