Gifting, kids’ jewellery to power CaratLane’s growth during festive period

For ages, jewellery buying in India has been done from one’s trusted family jeweller or jewellery store. Players like CaratLane have been changing the game, taking this traditional buying process online. Launched in 2008, online jewellery story CaratLane has come to be recognised as one of the top 20 e-commerce portals in India. In order to further its reach, CaratLane has also launched 100 stores across the length and breadth of the country. Since July 2016, CaratLane joined forces with Tanishq through a strategic investment made by Titan Company in CaratLane. 

As per media reports, CaratLane saw 90% growth in online sales in Q2 FY21 ended September 30, 2020. The growth was primarily driven by customers’ demand for low-priced jewellery. Sales rose 39% in Q3 FY21. As per Titan’s Q1 FY22 results, Caratlane recorded a growth of 274% during the quarter over Q1 FY21. Also, during the quarter, Caratlane also grew its store count to 121 with the launch of four new stores. 

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Avnish Anand, Co-founder and COO, CaratLane, in an exclusive interview with Adgully speaks at length about the strong digital performance during the pandemic period, foray into the kids’ jewellery space, changes in customers’ preference for jewellery in these challenging times and much more. 

With WFH, no social engagement, no big festivals and wedding celebrations, your business must have been impacted a lot due to the pandemic. How did you manage to navigate through this situation in the last one year? What was your strategy during those times?

At CaratLane we are known for our versatile catalogue that allows people to wear and buy jewellery that is not tied to only specific occasions. Our wide range of everyday light jewellery enables customers to engage more frequently with us during the lockdown. Given that social gatherings have been largely absent, gifting has remained a constant to a certain extent. A large part of our sales during the pandemic were driven by need based buying as well as gifting, which not only helped us stay afloat, but also opened up an avenue for us to expand our business offerings.

We forayed into the kids’ jewellery segment, which received a better than expected response and has led us to grow our catalogue and secure partnerships with iconic brands. In addition to this, our international business also continues to grow at a steady pace.

Due to the lockdown restrictions, our stores were shut and we maximised our online exposure. Being the first and largest online player in the category, we already had the infrastructure in place for online transactions, which gave us an edge during COVID-19 period.

We took it a step further by introducing services that helped a lot of customers buy jewellery over video call, WhatsApp chats and at home try-ons, which ensured customers felt safe and secure. Initiatives like these ultimately helped us recoup some our losses during the initial months of the lockdown. 

Jewellery buying is based on a lot of trust and faith in the brand. How have you offered that to your customers and what are some of the processes that you follow to keep your customers happy and also strengthen the credibility of your product offerings?

With over half a million customers across the country and now worldwide, there’s a strong line of word of mouth which helps spread the brand awareness.

Our services like 15 days exchange policy, lifetime exchange, WhatsApp shopping, Live video calls, etc., along with the versatility of the catalogue with regard to different age groups, needs, and price points makes it a strong proposition to satisfy our customers. We also constantly refresh our catalogue by adding new designs on a weekly basis along with interesting and distinctive collections which are one of a kind.

Our large omni footprint with the partnership of Tanishq makes us more approachable and accessible to our customers anytime they need us for their gifting needs and jewellery interest. 

You had pioneered the digital journey in the jewellery business much before the pandemic. How did you leverage this during the pandemic and what are some of the new features and services you offered online to your customers?

Being the first and largest online player in the category, we already had a robust infrastructure as well as trained staff in place for online transactions, which gave us a unique advantage during the pandemic. Our CaratLane Live service has helped a lot of customers buy jewellery over video calls as well as engage with them on WhatsApp. The cumulative benefit of these initiatives ultimately resulted in repeat buyers and more confidence to explore our wide array of products.

Our website also enables customers to check availability of designs at the store, which helps customers to make sure that their visit ends up in a transaction. In these times it’s very useful as customers don’t want to step out. As digital adoption increased across categories and segments, it became increasingly clear that people who usually walk into our stores now started to browse online first and then decide to pick it up from a nearby store. 

Fashion trends keep changing in all lifestyle products. What are the new trends that one can expect in the jewellery business? What innovations have you introduced to stay ahead in the category?

We are constantly looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve and address gaps in the jewellery segment by innovating on our services and designs. Since the past year, we expanded our business to the kids’ jewellery section through strategic partnerships with iconic characters like PowerPuff girls, Dora the Explorer and Peppa Pig.

We have also identified certain trends across India and have begun offering products with our signature design. Our most recent project, the Loha bangle, which is traditionally worn by married Bengali women, is an example of how we are keeping our ears to the ground and seizing every opportunity.

In addition to this, we have worked extensively with the 3D print technology that has allowed us to develop far better and intricate detailing while maintaining the strength and integrity of the jewellery, while offering it at the most affordable price points. 

Could you tell us more about your venture into the kids’ jewellery space. How does it work and what kind of designs do you offer? Who is the influencer and the end buyer?

The kids’ jewellery market in India has great potential and remains a largely untapped market. We began with more traditional designs like Nazariyas, which are popular especially in the infant jewellery segment. Our designs and craftsmanship ensure the maximum safety and security as well as a wide variety of products.

Due to the pandemic, gifting has been on the rise and for several small occasions, relatives have been gifting children jewellery. We have noticed, most of this buying is done by close relatives as a way to connect and communicate their affection for kids.

We are the first brand to officially collaborate and launch an exclusive Peppa Pig, Powerpuff and Dora the Explorer collection. In the future, we intend on building this category more and securing partnerships with other iconic characters that are loved by children these days. 

What has been your engagement strategy with your core audience? How have you beefed up your supply chain to reach the last mile at the doorstep of your end customer?

Our primary focus has been to keep innovating, designing and launching new designs across different categories and price points. As wallet share is increasing, it has been an advantage for us to keep innovating and pushing the envelope of our research and development. Since shopping at stores isn’t possible, we have ramped up our efforts focusing on different ways to engage our core audience. Our customisation services and faster turnaround time has given us an edge in the solitaire category. 

With rapid vaccine drive and the opening up of the cities, how are the next 6 months going to look like, especially the festive season? What’s your strategy going to be for the festive season this year?

Our focus for the remainder of this year will be on the gifting category across age groups since the festive season is approaching. We will be kicking off the festive period with a slew of interesting launches for Raksha Bandhan and an exciting collaboration for kids. We will also focus on occasions like engagements and weddings gifting since there is generally more interest now to spend in this category. We have noticed that our customers are looking for customised and affordable solitaires with quick delivery for their engagement jewellery. A new line of light weight plain gold jewellery for everyday wear will also be a key focus since customers are looking for more affordable options.

We will also sharpen our delivery time for customers – be it store pick-ups or 24-48 hours delivery to enable last minute gifting. 

(Edited and additional inputs by Shanta Saikia.)


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