Sparkling twist to online luxury
In conversation with Gaurav Kushwaha, Founder & CEO, BlueStone.com on the scope of online jewellery industry in Indian scenario and the challenges of driving a high-involvement product digitally.
Q1. How in your view has the online jewellery industry progressed over the recent years?
India is the second largest jewellery market currently valued at $60 billion and is expected to touch $100 - $110 billion in next four to five years. The contribution from online sales is expected to reach 1 - 2% by then. Unlike a few years ago, fine jewellery is becoming more mainstream today with consumers having both, the resources and the convenience to buy jewellery. Another major trend noticed is the gradual shift or willingness to try lightweight and trendy modern work wear jewellery, especially in larger cities and towns. This is the beginning of an important phase in the evolution of the jewellery segment as a whole, considering the size of offline buyers who will start looking at online as an option to buying fine jewellery, attracted by its convenience and choice.
Q2. What are the challenges associated towards building a brand in online jewellery shopping space?
Traditionally, customers have always had a very strong affiliation towards local or family jewellers and established jewellery brands. But lately, they have started embracing the ecommerce industry, including high ticket jewellery purchases. These purchase decisions are often governed by factors such as brand trust, awareness and choice of designs. Offline jewellery brands that have been in existence for a longer period of time command higher levels of awareness and loyalty as compared to online jewellery brands. Having said that, BlueStone.com has successfully managed to overcome barriers to online jewellery buying by building trust and loyalty amongst consumers. Every piece of jewellery sold is certified from the Solitaire Gemological Laboratories Ltd. (SGL), International Gemological Institute (IGI) and BIS Hallmarking along with 30 Day Money Back and Lifetime Exchange policies which provides transparency and assurance to customers.
Q3. How different is Bluestone as a brand and how do you create a niche?
BlueStone.com caters to every jewellery segment with a collection comprising over 5000 designs that include special designs for festivals and occasions. Over 250 unique and beautiful designs are brought to life each month offering customers with an array of modern yet contemporary styles to choose from. BlueStone also offer special services to delight customers; one of the most prominent being the Try at Home - a consultative selling service that recreates the magic of a traditional jewellery store at customers’ homes. This service is available across 18 major cities in the country. Customization of jewellery is another important aspect where customers have an option of customizing their jewellery including the caratage and quality of diamonds they wish to go for. BlueStone also offers guaranteed buyback of gold at prevailing market rates and provides all the necessary certificates.
Q4. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs out there who are looking to startup?
In my opinion, budding entrepreneurs have to bear a few fundamentals in mind before starting a new venture. A clear understanding of the proposition and its relevance in a given market alongside a sound understanding of customers and competition is an important step in order to head in the right direction. A strong team that clearly understands the goal and the vision of the organization is an important pillar, while managing cash flows is equally important for smooth operations and scalability. As the organisation takes shape and grows, focus on attaining profitability becomes another important pillar.
Q5. How has your journey been with IvyCap so far?
IvyCap has played a very important role in our journey as partners in the 3rd and 4th round of funding for the organization. These investments came to us at a very crucial stage and have laid the foundations for us to emerge as the country’s leading destination for online jewellery.
Q6. How is the upcoming fiscal year expected to pan out for Bluestone?
With strong backing and focused strategies, we are looking at a revenue run rate of 300 to 350 crore in FY 17 and have set ourselves a target of achieving a run rate of Rs 1000 crore in the calendar year of 2018.
About Gaurav Kushwaha
Gaurav is a Computer Science graduate from IIT Delhi and brings to table almost 10 years of experience in the fields of Technology, E-Commerce and Internet Marketing. A well-known figure in the realm of start-ups, he has been an entrepreneur for almost half a decade. Before BlueStone, he served as the CEO of Chakpak, an online entertainment portal, which he co-founded in 2007. Using his experience to his advantage, in this short span of time he has advised many start-ups in the fields of SEO, SEM and Product Strategies.