What is the one thing that is worrying you the most, as a businessman in these unprecedented times?
How soon will demand for jewellery come back to normal? That is one of the biggest concerns in my mind. We have excellent offline business, but with changing time, I believe digital business will improve. In these unprecedented times, many transactions may take place across digital platforms.
However, bridal jewellery and fine jewellery – customers may prefer to buy offline. They would want to try out the jewellery and then buy as per their preference.
This pandemic will definitely change the retail industry in India. How are you preparing yourself for the same?
Customer interaction will change, everyone is more guarded when it comes to hygiene norms. Our team has developed a completely new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). We will be rolling it out, as soon as we are functional.
SOPs will undergo some change post the lockdown. We are gearing up to meet these changes. At the same time, retail industry in India will focus more on necessities and jewellery buying will be more need-based. At the same time, there will be a certain segment of buyers – the fashionistas who buy for the ‘feelgood’ factor these buyers will invariably buy their preferred pieces of jewellery. We have such clients as well.
In case, of the vast majority of buyers however, there could be certain degree of caution – when it comes to spending on luxury goods and jewellery often is a luxury product.
People are talking about jewellery companies with an e-commerce portal having an edge over those that don’t. Do you believe this to be true?
Yes, in this day and age, with changing times, we need to focus on the e-commerce and digital side equally as we look at the offline option. We have a dedicated team which is working towards offering secure ecommerce and digital solutions and we have a very good website, our customer engagement is pretty good via various social media platforms. Our customer loyalty programme (CLP) is very good. So we get good response from our clients.
Samples of modular jewellery, which buyers may prefer after lockdown
How do you think consumers’ preferences in jewellery will change after covid-19?
People will prefer more minimalistic or modular designs. The bridal or function-wear category will be more a mix of regular use jewellery rather than heavy, chunky pieces which remain locked away in a locker.
Most women are preferring regular use jewellery, even in the ones they choose for their functions. These would be more modular pieces, we are already offering many such pieces for sale.
Post the lockdown, customers will prioritise their buying, and therefore one who understands their priorities accurately will be able to do good business.
What is one leadership lesson this pandemic has taught you?
Patience is a powerful tool, which the pandemic has taught me. It is one quality that takes precedence over a lot of others, and as days pass, we will have to exercise more patience when we are dealing with clients, staff, and all our associates.
The situation is indeed challenging and each one is facing various forms of challenges courageously. So we have to show patience while dealing with everyone, on a day to day basis.
A lot of jewellers are worried about paying staff salaries without any income and even shutting down their businesses. What would you like to say to them?
Business owners need to discuss with their operations teams and arrive at a mutually agreeable salary structure. In our case, as of now, we haven’t changed the salary structure.
Businesses should not shut down, because it is a crisis and the economic slump also will not be permanent. Eventually, the economy will bounce back. It is important to balance business and overheads – raise money through external loans, etc and exercise patience.
The situation will ease with time. Shutting down businesses is not the right option, it will add to their worries and worsen the situation. The world is not coming to an end, this too shall pass. One has to be optimistic and courageous.
Do you think there will be a change in spending power after lockdown?
Yes definitely, people will want to save money. They will spend on necessities primarily, and spending on luxury goods may not happen that easily. The recession that has set in, and it will also affect people’s spending habits and therefore the gems and jewellery industry needs to be more focused on bracing themselves for sometime, even after the lockdown is lifted.