Can a Scottish clan come down on a ring? Or can you wear a game of snake-and-ladder on your neck? As much as confusing and bizarre it may sound, but these are the choices of the millennials, who like to wear what they like, in whatever shapes they like! The $60 billion jewellery business in India is mostly believed to be driven by touch-and-feel experience. However, millennials are breaking all myths and are turning towards online jewellery in order to customize what they like and how they like. Although the online segment contributes to about two per cent of the overall business, the market is huge, says ShipJewel, Co-founder, Vaibhav Tyagi. In a conversation with Indian Retailer, Tyagi shares why millennials are choosing customized jewellery and why the entry of big players is good for start-ups like Ship Jewel.
To begin with what inspired you to venture into customized jewellery?
Before we launched, my two co-founders and I realized we shared the same passion, ideas, and I had the technical expertise to be in this business. I have experience in working with technology providers for online jewellery makers, and as we met more people, we understood there was a huge opportunity for customized jewellery, especially with millennials between 24 and 38 years of age. Unlike the older generations, millennials do not see gold as a tool of savings and the bigger problem was they were drifting away from fine jewellery because they could not find the right designs. There is a change in mindset in how people see and wear jewellery, but no market to meet this change. Through extensive customization, we decided to convert ideas into jewellery and our designs appealed to each individual buyer. Our designs are for the millennials who like to wear what they feel and think.
Buying gold is largely a touch-and-feel process in India. What challenges are you facing as a new brand, especially with entering the online space?
There is a growing market for online jewellery and these buyers are not new to e-commerce marketplace. There is no trust deficit and there is definitely much higher acceptance. Earlier, trust factor could have posed a challenge, but now buyers are aware of online business and don’t mind buying. Of course, word-of-mouth is helping our designs become popular.
How is the current market for online customized jewellery?
When we started our journey, we received 1 or 2 requests per week, which has now scaled to 4-5 requests per day. Most of the customers who choose customized jewellery are those who can’t find what they like in offline market. We have seen some rather unusual requests for customized jewellery like a ring that should look like a tattoo or the Scottish clan and its artwork on a ring, a coffee cup as a pendant and several others. Although the online segment is just about 2-3 per cent of the overall jewellery market, it is growing in the right direction.
How fierce is the brand competition? Is it tough competing with established brands?
It is good to have more brands take the online route because those who are not buying jewellery online also will pay attention to this trend. This way, bigger players in the industry will open up the market for new customers. Customer expectations have been high with internet intervention and when new brands get noticed and get the right attention, there is opportunity for all to prove the mettle.
So what are customers expecting from online jewellery brands?
Exclusivity, appealing designs and quality will play a key role in attracting new customers. The millennials especially want designs that are not available online and though they have no problem with fine jewellery, they just don’t want the age-old designs anymore.
What are your expansion plans?
Some of our customers have complained that not always the size of an ornament meets real-time expectations and we are working towards addressing this concern. We believe that there can be no expansion without the use of technology and we are trying to use VR and AR as much as possible. Our idea is to give the feel of an offline jewellery store when a customer buys jewellery online. A VR headset will also be used towards this. We are only focusing on expanding technically as of now.