In an exclusive conversation with Mithun Sacheti, CEO, CaratLane highlights the growing market of online precious jewellery.
How do you see current jewellery market in India in terms of growth? What would be the share of Silver and Gold jewellery market in overall market? Please share few numbers to quantify the same? Also comment on imitation jewellery.
The jewellery market is huge in India, but with problems that are ripe for disruption. And I am proud to say CaratLane has been a mega disruptor - we are changing the way jewellery is manufactured, sold and bought in India. We are innovating across all dimensions with boldness; solving problems like manufacturer-retailer connect, personalisation, shopping experience, lack of transparency etc.
We don’t make silver jewellery and in terms of gold we are a fraction of the gold market, but we see a huge potential and growth opportunities to explore.
Tata has done significant amount of investment in CaratLane. How you are utilizing those funds? Are you still scouting new investors?
Our biggest deployment of funds have been on expanding our distribution, ensuring that we stay ahead on technology, and building the brand.
Kindly mention the journey of the brand? Also, how many categories you are operating currently? How many pin codes you are covering right now?
I come from a family of jewellers and my passion to expand my family business drove me to set up our first store (for Jaipur Gems) in South India (Chennai). However I started to realise the huge potential of online retail in India and also that consumers didn’t necessarily have a lot of choice when it came to jewellery. Gold prices had been continuously rising. We spoke to dozens and dozens of women across the country. Hundreds, actually. About their tastes, their lifestyles, what was important to them. We discovered a crazy paradox. Despite their love for jewellery – and how important jewellery is for their personal style and individuality – most women were forced to keep their jewellery in bank lockers, where it was safe but unwearable on an everyday basis.
We started CaratLane in 2008 to address these concerns. We started by designing jewellery that was modern and affordable. Jewellery that would fit today’s lifestyles and could be worn everyday and not relegated to the lockers. And then we took everything and made it available on the web - for anyone to browse and purchase from anywhere in India. We put up our jewellery, the specifications and the pricing transparently online - something that traditional jewellers never did.
We operate across all categories in the precious jewellery segment, but our focus is to make jewellery that fits today’s lifestyles and could be worn everyday. Pendants, necklaces, earrings and bracelets are among the top items purchased from our site.
We deliver across India, we work with multiple courier partners to make sure we can deliver anywhere and everywhere in the country.
Considering the big ticket size, do you think e-commerce is a viable business model when it comes to jewellery retailing? What are the challenges associated with online jewellery retailing?
While ecommerce has become widely accepted in India, it has taken steady and sustained focus to democratise jewellery-buying online. From a website for easy shopping to allowing women to explore jewellery through apps to discovering interactive mirrors and providing a no-barrier access to precious jewellery in stores, CaratLane has transformed jewellery-buying in India.
CaratLane believes in helping customers experience jewellery in innovative and convenient ways. Technology and innovation have better equipped online jewellers in their battle against physical retail players. Our brand is now associated with various design innovations around social and cultural motifs and contemporary style. We take a 360 degree approach in our marketing plans as we see ourselves as an omni-channel jewellery brand. We invest equally in building brand and building the business.
Our biggest challenge with online retailing was to build trust and to be able to get consumers a “touch and feel” experience. Over the years, we rolled out various initiatives such as our Try @ Home facility that allows customers to shortlist items online and then request for a free trial at their home and the Perfect Look App which is the world’s first virtual 3D jewellery try-on app that allows our customers to virtually try on earrings and see how it will actually look on them. More recently we started opening stores making us a truly omni-channel retailer.
Kindly highlight your current retail spread. What was the rationale behind venturing into offline retail?
We now have 15 retail stores across India - the newest ones being at High Street Phoenix (Mumbai), Mall of India (Noida), Phoenix Marketcity (Pune) and Koramangala (Bangalore) and we are planning to open more stores in the coming months. Our stores are very different from the typical Indian jewellery store, which tend to be very large, with a guard and an usher who walks you in. Our stores are designed for the customer who walks into a mall or a duty-free shop. There is no glass and you can walk right up to the products. You can touch, feel and experience the jewellery without any pressure. It’s more inviting than what the retail store environment currently is in India. Our stores allows our customers to touch, feel and experience the brand and with such format it only helps our business. Our brick-and-mortar presence complements our online presence
What are the current buying trends in the jewellery segment?
Consumers are becoming more and more comfortable shopping online, which will only add to the growth of this segment of jewellery sales. As CaratLane, we want to help customers experience jewellery in innovative and convenient ways, by coming up with innovative ways, from personalization to curation to home trial options, to address consumers’ concerns.
How are you managing your supply chain? Is this being managed by third party or in-house?
We source solitaires and diamonds from more than 4000 vendors across the globe which helps our customers to choose from over 2 lac diamonds. We also work with few vendors for other types of jewellery but majority of our jewellery is manufactured in-house at our factory in Chennai and recently with the Tanishq partnership we now manufacture some of our jewellery at Tanishq’s state-of-the-art facility in Hosur. We work with multiple vendors for distribution.
How many orders you generate on daily basis? And, what is the ratio of returns?
It has been a healthy growth month on month.
Who do you think as your competition?
Our intent is not to worry about competition but to stay focussed on our mission - to make beautiful jewellery that is affordable, accessible and forever wearable. We want to continuously raise the bar in making modern, wearable designs. We want to keep innovating and leveraging technology to deliver a better customer experience, both online and at our stores.
At last, kindly mention your growth plans?
There is a lot to look forward to and we are excited about what we have in store. We will be integrating our system with EnCircle, Titan’s loyalty programme, thereby giving existing Titan buyers more choice and better deals. We have a host of new collections lined up for the year which you will see in the next few months. We have a huge demand from customers to open more brick-and-mortar stores and we plan do so across all the key cities in India.