Many jewellery stores have reopened across India. What should jewellers’ immediate concerns be?

The physical aspect of reopening the stores. After 60-70 days of lockdown, it is not going to be easy for people to muster the confidence to go out, unless they are very sure about the environment. There are various aspects that jewellers have to think about in this situation. First is the sanitization of the stores, second is the sanitization of the jewellery because they will be worn and tried on by so many people. The second concern is the loss of revenue. They have had no revenue coming in for the last two months but the expenses are still there. Salary is not the issue, the issue is with fixed expenses like rent and maintenance costs if they own the place. Therefore, jewellers have to work on bringing in revenue and this is where they have to get innovative. It is not the question of waiting for the customer to come into the store. Jewellers have to entice them and make them interested in their offerings. This can be done in today’s times only by using digital media to its fullest extent. Stories sell at the end of the day, so build stories around your jewellery. Digital mediums have to be exploited and jewellers who don’t have a website should immediately look at building one. Today, a website can be ready in 3-4 weeks, but the challenge lies in promoting the website. The faster you start planning and strategizing these things, the faster you will see results when you open the stores.

 

Stories sell at the end of the day, so build stories around your jewellery. Digital mediums have to be exploited and jewellers who don’t have a website should immediately look at building one.

 

How can jewellers future proof their businesses?

The important thing that jewellers have to think of is what will drive the business for many years from now. Whether it is communication, product development or services, the mantra has to be “innovate or perish”. You will find people travelling less and so people are going save that money. People are going to buy far less clothes. So there is going to be a lot of money in the hands of customers. Jewellers have to make a strategy where this additional money comes to them. Our share (jewellery) of the wallet has been spent on other things over the last 10 years. The whole industry needs to gear up – our industry for some reason is under the false notion that if you share knowledge, you are going to lose the advantage. This is not true. For some reason, as an industry, we don’t use the best. If you don’t use the best, you will never get the best. One motto the industry needs to follow is – “nothing but the best, for me and from me”.

 

Our share (jewellery) of the wallet has been spent on other things over the last 10 years. The whole industry needs to gear up – our industry for some reason is under the false notion that if you share knowledge, you are going to lose the advantage.

 

There is also a cash flow issue – suppliers are finding it difficult to collect payments from retailers for orders delivered late last year. And retailers again have not had any revenues. How can they work together to solve this problem?

You can’t look at this issue as suppliers and buyers, you have got to be associates. You have to work hand in hand, so both prosper. This is not an issue where one solution fits all. It has to be worked out on a case-to-case basis. If a manufacturer is supplying to ten different retailers, whatever he decides as a principle may not work for all retailers. In a worst-case scenario, he might have to work out ten different scenarios for all his retailers. Similarly, retailers will also have to work out different solutions. Every manufacturer or retailer will have different challenges.  One of the challenges I can think of – orders of huge jewellery pieces might have been placed in November-December last year. I don’t see such huge, heavy pieces of jewellery selling at least in the year 2020. May be they can think of ways to redesign it. They don’t have to melt the whole thing, but jewellers can think of ways in which they can use components of it to make new pieces. Innovation is most critical and I would advise the industry to go out and look for experts in every single area. Everybody thinks they know everything, but this is not true. Jewellers need help, they don’t have to be so secretive about everything.

 

If a manufacturer is supplying to ten different retailers, whatever he decides as a principle may not work for all retailers. In a worst-case scenario, he might have to work out ten different scenarios for all his retailers. Similarly, retailers will also have to work out different solutions.

 

Who is better poised to come out of this situation successfully?

Those who have ethics and can think of innovating be it services or products. Think of designing jewellery that people would want to wear in their house, to match their loungewear. People who are proactive and are constantly thinking of ways to innovate are the ones who will emerge successful in this situation. One thing retailers should do with the help of their own staff and experts, is to find out what their niche is.