An Expert's Take On Hurdles Of Online Jewellery Trading In India

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Jewellery has been the most prized possession of people all over the world for ages. They are regarded as family heirlooms, handed down from one generation to the other.

C Krishniah Chetty Group of Jewellers

Indians, however, have a long way from buying ornaments from traditional shops. A paradigm shift can be noticed in the trend in this regard. Now, they troop down to new age showrooms armed with virtual reality apps that tell customers how a piece of accessory will look on them even when the article is not present in the store at that point of time. These app and website-based stores have e-commerce sites to spoil customers with options.

However, this domain of the booming industry is grappling with a slew of challenges like new government policies, profitability and most importantly insufficient skilled labourers.

Founded in 1869, C Krishniah Chetty Group of Jewellers is today an established name as the creator of finest, traditional jewellery art. This heritage business is run by the direct descendants of the founder. Once, the firm enjoyed a royal stint of sorts by being the appointed jeweller of the Royal House of Mysore.

In a candid conversation with Dr C Vinod Hayangriv, Managing Director, C Krishniah Chetty & Sons Pvt Ltd, the Entrepreneur India came to about some glitches that the industry is facing in drawing consumers' attention, to some extent because of too much government intervention, and also the fundamentals that keep the sparkle of the jewellery business in India alive.

Is The E-Commerce Model Viable In This Domain?

There is definitely a market for it, especially for the first-time buyers. They don't have one particular brand in mind and this serves as an easy way out for potential buyers, he said and added that the issue with online deals is that they are centred around small transactions. "Again, one intrinsic flaw of this model lies in the fact what you show is not what you get. Sometimes, a product is very different from the one actually displayed on screen. What looks big on screen may sometimes be very small in reality. The quality may also be not up to the mark," he said.

Basic Challenges Of The Business

"The industry is now in a period of transition, like the rest of the country. We are witnessing a metamorphosis of regulations on one side and consumer mindset on the other. So the challenge now lies in bringing about transformation in the entire industry. We urgently need to change from a low-value addition to a high-value addition trade," Hayangriv opined. The customers are extremely price-sensitive and bulk of the industry functions in a particular way, he said. "It has one of the lowest EBITDA levels when compared to other sectors like healthcare, automobiles. We need to take it to higher levels of profitability," he added.

Government Intervention

"There needs to be lesser regulations for smooth functioning of the industry. I welcome the central government's views and actions on creating a cashless economy, but it has to be limited to that level. It seems the government is venturing too deep into regulating every little step. It should not micro-manage things," he said. People need ornaments and so it should be made regulation-free, he suggested."I think the income tax rates should be reduced to increase the number of taxpayers in the country. This would be a major step and the government should bat for this. Secondly, the government should put in same efforts to stem corruption in the country, the way it is working to establish a cashless economy. This would ensure greater freedom and ease in doing business," he added.

Understanding Consumer Psyche

First-time buyers have a different outlook and always search for a very specific variety of products. They are either looking at the quality or the design — a product for day-to-day wear, he stated.

"The second category of buyers includes those who have a lot of money and are often contemplating ways of exhausting that excess cash. The third category comprises those who have technically "arrived' in life and want the whole world to know that they are buying something grand and ostentatious. The fourth category consists of retired and simple set of people who want to buy very little and are more keen on preserving their jewellery assets," he said, adding, "as a brand, we want to cater to each and every category with their own set of trends."

C Krishniah Chetty Group was commissioned to make several hundreds of pieces of ornaments, including the famed double-headed eagles known as "GhandaBherunda', which were presented to important contributors to the Kingdom of Mysore every six months.

The symbol is now the official seal of the State of Karnataka. The group is working on its plan to take this legacy forward to the 21st century by reaching out to jewellery connoisseurs across India and the globe, in their own distinctive manner.