Fine jewellery is most often made for occasions, and not everyday wear. Breaking myths, online jewellery player STAC is taking lightweight fine jewellery to the women who would like to wear designer pieces to work. Since its launch in 2018, the brand is consistently growing not just in Tier I cities, but Tier II and Tier III cities too, assert STAC co-founders Aakriti Tapuriah and Rashi Sanghvi.
Walk us through your brand journey.
Skimming through fine jewellery websites for hours and not being able to find a piece which was modern was a daunting task. We realised, people were too lazy to go to the local jeweler to make the desired piece while also not finding anything online as the market was flooded with traditional designs. It was this gap that sparked the idea of STAC.
We did a soft launch with STAC to assess the demand- we initially ran a survey amongst our friends and family and found that people were looking for 18kt gold jewellery that they could wear daily; jewellery that was priced between INR 15,000 - 30,000; most of them were brand conscious and were willing to spend a little extra for the brand name.
We launched in April 2018 on Instagram and did a few offline events. Over the year that followed we realized the demand for this particular aesthetic in India isn’t just in tier 1 cities but also in tier 2 and 3 cities where they don’t have as much access to this type of jewellery.
Most local jewellers still make the traditional designs, this new western aesthetic to fine jewellery isn’t so prevalent in the markets but the demand is growing as people get more exposed to western trends through digital media. We started making online sales through our instagram page from all across India and realized the need to launch a website, giving easy access to people across the country. Our website launched exactly one year later providing a user friendly shopping experience to consumers across India with free shipping, easy returns and exchange, availability of COD and of course certified fine jewellery that they have been looking for but couldn’t find!
Why did you think there was a gap in the fine jewelry segment and how is STAC addressing these gaps?
The biggest gap we saw in the market was that there was no one catering to the woman who wanted to wear simple, practical and classic pieces while she went about her everyday routine. Women who wanted to wear fine jewellery everyday were also resorting to imitation pieces unless they had the time, patience and access to design their own jewellery and then go to a local jeweller to get the pieces made. Most of the fine jewellery pieces women owned were heavy, ornate pieces that were primarily kept in the locker, only to be used on occasions. Practical women today were looking for a way that they could wear their jewelleryeveryday and get the most mileage out of them.
Since jewelry is still dominated by touch and feel purchase, being an online player, how are you connecting with your customer base?
From the very beginning we have been cognizant of the fact that jewellery has traditionally been a touch and feel purchase. In order to address this, we participate in pop-ups for customers to come in and experience the products and the brand. In the coming financial year, we intend on ramping up our pop-up outreach by participating in niche pop-ups taking place across the country. In addition, we have a robust customer service team and our social media is geared towards keeping the virtual experience super real through visuals that show our products in action and tutorials on how to ‘STAC’ the jewellery. Having said all of the above, we have seen a very encouraging response in terms of people’s willingness to buy jewellery online as long as the brand is responsive and builds customer trust.
We also offer 7 day return and 15 day exchange policy in addition to offering cash on delivery as an option to our customers in 25,000 pin codes across the country. In spite of being a new entrant in the market, these measures along with our customer service have helped us build STAC as a brand that is trusted across the country.
Based on purchase patterns, do you think jewelry customers have evolved? What are the recent trends you see in the market?
The modern woman today thinks of jewellery very differently from the way her mother and grandmother thought about it. This is reflected in the kind of pieces they decide to buy and the motivations behind these purchases. Practically all our customers echo the same sentiment - they no longer want to buy jewellery for their locker but instead pieces that they can enjoy wearing everyday with their daily attire.
Women today are at the forefront of making jewellery buying decisions, they are also beginning to become more independent and often paying for their own jewellery purchases. We are now seeing a shift towards subtle, no-fuss, minimal pieces with a focus on designs that are classic and versatile.
Is market slowdown posing a challenge to scale? With what successful strategies has the brand scaled?
Considering the price point that STAC plays in, so far the market slowdown hasn’t had a significant impact on our plans to scale. Our strategy of being customer centric in every aspect of our business, from designs to functionality has helped us create an offering that fills a gap which the Indian woman has been feeling for a while. Additionally, leveraging technology in the best possible manner from 3D printing, to an online presence with a large number of serviceable pin codes to a laser focus on being digital first in terms of our marketing efforts has helped us stay on track in achieving our targets.
Do you have any offline expansion plans? What are your overall expansion plans for this year?
Currently there are no plans to have an offline presence. STAC is bringing technology to the arena of jewellery and intends to grow exponentially as an online brand. Estimates by McKinsey and Company indicate that the share of the online jewellery market in Asia is set to double from 6% to 12% by 2020. About 18% of the sales are expected to be made online by 2025 taking its worth to about $79 billion annually. Keeping our own experiences and learnings in mind, we are here for the long haul and completely committed to the online space.