Buyers Gauge Jewellers’ Calibre By Their Web Presence
Independent jewellers are grappling with the e- commerce challenge and wondering how to integrate their online operations with physical stores. Raj Jewels, an Indian jeweller based in New Jersey, USA, has successfully implemented an omni- channel retail s
On May 27th 2018, I was in New Jersey and I spend a day window-shopping at the Oak Tree Road. Iselin is the area in New Jersey that is known as ‘Little India’ as 25% of the population here comprises Asian Indians. Once a desolate and rundown neighbourhood, Oak Tree Road is today a booming business district. As many as 30 jewellery stores compete with each other on Oak Tree Road that runs about 5km in Central Jersey.
I happened to enter Raj Jewels, where the store was full of customers engrossed in selecting jewellery. I met Bobby Bansal, the owner of Raj Jewels, who informed that theirs was one of the first jewellery retail showrooms to set up a business in New Jersey 31 years ago.
I was also introduced to Jagruti Bansal, the marketing and e-commerce director of Raj Jewels Bansal Group, who initiated the e-commerce business for the brand and has a lioness’s share in the growth of the company’s business. She provides the technological and branding edge and manages the website operations, search marketing, social media channels and online customer service network. Here’s what she had to share:
Most of the Indian jewellers that I have met in the US have predominantly an Indian customer base. What steps have you taken to attract customers of other nationalities?
Our website is designed to cater to an international audience – right from the design, look and interaction with the website. The product categories and approach with the clients is also very multicultural. We have positioned ourselves as “the Tiffany of the South Asian segment” and we have the same approach when marketing our products, whether it is on social media or any other channel. We don’t want to be the typical Indian jeweller. Hence, we launched the video blog and the topics are targeted towards the American audience.
Our product designs also range from traditional to modern and transitional. We work with designers from Europe, the Middle East, the Far East Asia and across the world because we want to cater to every taste.
What changes have you witnessed in the last five years?
Today’s customer is more educated and has more resources to discover products, services and retailers. They don’t want brands to find them but they want to find the brands themselves. And that’s where online search has made a lot of difference. It is the #1 source that most customers turn to. They judge the jeweller’s quality by their web presence. They do not walk into a store before checking its website. They confirm the jeweller’s authenticity by looking up Google reviews and their ratings. That is the second point of verification. E-commerce shopping has made distance irrelevant.
Another most trusted source is the social media referral network. And as YouTube has become the biggest search engine now, it’s giving television a tough competition. And with IGTV being launched by Instagram, influencer marketing is going to be a major resource in the world of web shopping. It is going to change the approach to reaching out to the target audience completely. Content is king today and not aggressive sales push.
What percentage of your sales comes from e-commerce? Is offline retail under pressure?
Online has been the greatest support to retail for us. Since we have a strong goodwill in New Jersey, word-of-mouth publicity has helped us built our clientele. The online store that was launched almost four years ago has today, added an additional 40-45% of sales to the bricksand-mortar store. We have seen a strong growth year after year.
Do you manufacture your own jewellery? And do you have an in-house design team?
We usually work with vendors and designers globally, but yes, we have an in-house design team in India and Dubai.
We have 20+ employees in the USA and 10 in India. We treat our employees like family and give them the benefits they deserve based on their contribution and tenure with the company.
How do you acquire new customers? Please give us an idea of your above-the-line (including digital) and below-the-line activities.
Our online activities include website design updation, Search Engine Optimisation, social media marketing and email marketing. We also do print advertising; radio is our #1 sales booster followed by TV in the traditional media. We are soon launching a store in Raleigh, North Carolina.
JAGRUTI BANSAL Marketing and e-commerce director, Raj Jewels Bansal Group