Updated: August 8, 2020 5:44:11 pm
In a June 2020-survey by the Retailers’ Association of India, it was revealed that “consumers expressed low interest in spending on furniture and jewellery, watches and personal accessories” among other segment in a post-lockdown environment. In comparison, consumer durables and electronics, beauty, wellness, personal care and footwear were the top five categories.
Commenting on the survey’s findings which covered over 4,000 respondents, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India, said, “With most consumers demonstrating hesitation to resume shopping in the coming months, the retail sector needs the support of all stakeholders to revive sentiment. Retailers will need to prioritise safety and hygiene measures to reassure consumers that they will receive a safe shopping experience. Despite a strained quarter, the sector will have to make investments in implementing the necessary safeguards to win back consumer confidence.”
Saurabh Khandelwal, owner at Dhanvi Diamonds, which specialises in bridal and daily wear jewellery, said he has indeed noted a change in jewellery buying behaviour among his customers. “There is no demand for heavy jewellery now. People are instead demanding low-cost and lightweight jewellery. We are taking several measures to boost up the sales and are more focused on quality and certification now. Like the textile and fashion industry, brand value is going to make a huge difference,” he told indianexpress.com.
Saroja Yeramilli, founder and CEO, Melorra, a lightweight fine jewellery brand, says that it is “high gold prices alongside reduced financial spending and a change in overall priorities in the current situation that have driven the preference towards stylish, lightweight and affordable jewellery”. She adds consumers now want to live more in the present and make the most of what they have.
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This drastic change in consumer sentiments and purchase pattern, and the call for enhanced sanitisation and safety measures owing to the global pandemic, has necessitated a need for the Indian jewellery industry to adopt various measures, including disinfecting each piece of jewellery and ensuring a safe buying experience.
Tanishq, a jewellery brand from the TATA Group, has introduced ‘Gold Standard’ safety measures that ensures sanitisation at all entry points for customers visiting the stores, besides individually sanitising each piece of jewellery. “Every piece of jewellery is kept in a service tray after every customer trial. Each piece of jewellery is sanitised according to its category through a combination/some of these steps: sanitiser soaked cotton/cloth or ultrasonic with soap water, water rinsing or steam cleaning. The product is then gently wiped with a cotton cloth,” said Arun Narayan, assistant vice president category, marketing and retail, Tanishq, Titan Company Limited.
Ultraviolet rays-powered UVC chambers are also being used to sanitise jewels. “It is safe for all type of metals. These chambers are now also available in markets if one wishes to purchase to sanitise wallets, keys, etc. Through this technique, jewellery is sanitised within 60 seconds,” said Narayan.
Khandelwal agreed that since “special liquids” might affect the “shine and colour” of diamond and gold jewellery pieces, UV machines are a better choice.
“The UV light produced by special bulbs inside the box ensures 360 degree disinfecting of the jewellery item. This process is known to kill up to 99 per cent of the microbes without causing any radioactive contamination. It damages the RNA of viruses and makes them lose their ability to infect living beings. This process is also completely safe and doesn’t cause any radioactive contamination or effect,” added Yeramilli.
Yeramilli spoke about similar sanitisation measures at the level of the warehouses as well. “We thoroughly disinfect our warehouse with high-quality disinfectants regularly. The raw materials entering the production process are also decontaminated using the highly effective acetone. It is ideal to clean all metallic and non-metallic surfaces and is safer than other chemical-based cleaning liquids. We also make sure all our jewellery pieces undergo UV sterilisation. It is a globally accepted and scientific process wherein the products are placed in a special UV box,” she said.
Jalaj Kumar, 28, who bought a pair of earrings in mid-July for his mother for a family function from a jewellery store in New Delhi, went through thermal scanning followed by a sanitisation check at the entrance. “Even all the gold pieces I touched were sanitised using a liquid before and after it was given to me to take a closer look,” Kumar said, adding safety protocols were also followed at a jewellery shop in a Noida village where he bought a pair of nose rings.
“For our office staff, we daily track them by digital thermometers, and we all are wearing masks and hand gloves,” said Khandelwal.
Recently, Tanishq also announced the launch of new ‘phygital features’ — physical and digital features — using augmented reality in more than 200 stores to promote “contactless selling” by means of video calling, endless aisle, virtual jewellery try-on and live assisted chats. “As a part of the new normal, our digital strategy is to enhance customer safety and overall customer experience with the introduction of new technological features on both online and offline platforms. Consumer convenience was also a key insight during lockdown where customers shopped from the comfort of their homes, so the need for a video call and appointment-based selling arose,” Narayan told indianexpress.com.
The idea behind initiating these virtual features was to let customers not miss their physical visits to stores, said Narayan. “Since customers look forward to hold and touch the product and see how it suits them, the brand’s Virtual Try On feature allows them to virtually try on the products across categories like earrings, pendants and necklaces. There were many first-time buyers who had queries about the design and availability that was addressed through Live-Assist Chats,” he said.
On the offline front, the brand’s video calling feature allows customers to personally connect on a video call with the store of their preference to virtually see the jewellery and gather details before making a purchase decision. “Once the customer places an order, the product gets delivered to their doorstep following all hygiene norms,” said Narayan.
Dhanvi Diamonds are using text messaging platform WhatsApp as a medium to showcase their pieces and connect with the buyers over video calls. “We are looking at different platforms for selling our jewellery but as of now it seems little difficult owing to their registration process. We hope to get a hold on them soon, and we have also planned to launch our e-commerce platform so that customers can directly purchase it from our website,” said Khandelwal.
Interestingly, even though the demand for jewellery might not be seeing an upswing, Gem Selections, a unit of Khanna Gems Private Limited, claims to have witnessed “more demand” for gemstones. “Though jewellery is not an essential product but as far as astrological gemstones are concerned, we are witnessing more demand right now as people usually resort to gemstones in the times of uncertainty,” said Pankaj Khanna, managing director and founder of the brand.
“We are sanitising each and every piece of jewellery or loose gemstones at all our showrooms. We have also adopted virtual reality and have pioneered the 3D hologram imaging of gemstones. This way people see the jewellery and gemstones at the showroom virtually first, then select a few items and finally our staff shows the product to them. This ensures minimal physical contact. We also fumigate our store after every three hours. Every jewellery piece is sanitised before and after it has been tried by the customer,” said Khanna.I
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