Our marketplace model sets us apart

by Sohini Bagchi    Apr 04, 2013

Gaurav Issar

The online retail space is increasingly becoming popular in India. But for a niche and conventional segment like gold and precious jewelry, online retailing certainly poses some unique challenges. In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, Gaurav Issar, Co-Founder of JewelsNext, an e-commerce jewelry company, throws light on how the company made a difference by adopting a marketplace model and how IT has helped the company streamline various processes.

Buying jewellery online is not a very common phenomenon with Indian customers. So, how do you convince them to buy gold, diamond and other precious jewelries through the e-commerce platform?

As you rightly said it is not common for people to buy jewelry online and we were aware of this before launching the e-commerce platform. The $16 billion jewellery sector in India is highly unorganized and most of these players have a conventional approach to the industry. We wanted to make a difference in this segment. So to begin with, we adopted the marketplace model that allows reputed gold and jewelry brands and traders to sell their products through our system for a listing fee. In India the ecommerce scene is either very deal centric or inventory centric which requires either lot of marketing capital or inventory. We realized that the marketplace model allowed us to become capital efficient both in marketing and inventory. Of course it took us time to make the jewellery fraternity understand that a marketplace model can become very successful. Today, we have brought together 2,500 jewellery shops and over 5,00,000 jewellery products, making JewelNext, one of the largest online platform for jewelry in India. We are witnessing close to 50 transactions daily, with an average ticket value of Rs 20,000 per transaction.

Can you elucidate the role of IT in the success and evolution of JewelNext?

We were very particular about having a strong technology backbone since our inception. Without IT, it would have been impossible for JewelNext to succeed and evolve as it has not only acted as a complete backend support system for us, but has also been an enabler for the company. Being in the online space, technology has helped us consolidate our service delivery in real-time. We have a very robust and interactive website that is updated rigorously. We also have an in-house content management system allows us to easily add, list, edit, and update products. The website involves a lot of high value transactions. So we have to provide a high level of secured transaction to our clients. Our services require sophisticated and real-time customer interaction management and spam-filtering technologies to manage hundreds of visitors and buyers. Our security team regularly conducts security updates, patch management, control physical access to systems by creating separate user account. As far as delivery is concerned, we package our products inside airtight compartment and then they are shipped to the customer.

How do you leverage IT to better connect with your customers?

We have in place a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system that automates all our key business processes from sales and marketing to finance and operations. We have a highly customer-centric practice including a captive sales and customer support center. There are a number of self service tools on our websites that customers can access. Mobile is an area we are bullish about. We have a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) on our site. We have also built an app for android and will soon have an app for iphone. We are there on practically all types of social media platforms as well and will continue to engage our customers with the help of social technologies.

What is the role of the IT head in your organization?

The IT head in the organization has a critical role to play. At one level he has to keep the lights on and assure that the online platform is up and running. On the other hand, being the IT leader of an e-commerce company, he is expected to work on the latest technologies to transform the company and become visionary leaders. He should constantly dabble with emerging technologies such as mobile, cloud and social and see how these technologies can bring value to the business. And this requires that he works closely with the business side and think innovatively about how to use these tools to advance the business model.

How do you plan to innovate with new technologies?

We will continue to explore and innovate with emerging technologies to take our e-commerce platform to the next level. Going forward, we plan to make strategic IT investments in the areas of social engagement, mobile technologies and insightful and actionable analytics to deliver a more positive result to our customers. From offering logistics to business development support, we will help more and more jewellery shops get onto the online space. We are also looking at a turnover of Rs 100 Crore within the next 12-18 months.

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