INTERVIEW – Omni-channel marketing will be key post-lockdown in Indian jewellery trade, top jeweller says

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Jewellery Outlook will host a free webinar at 2 pm UK (5pm UAE and 6.30 pm India) on Monday April 6, 2020, featuring a conversation about “Managing Business in Turbulent Times”, and introducing one of India’s top jewellers, Dr Saurabh Gadgil, Chairman and Managing Director, PNG Jewellers, in conversation with jewellery consultant Mr Anil Prabhakar.

In the following Q and A interview with Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough, introducing themes to be discussed during the webinar, the two speakers talk about how the jewellery business in India is changing during the coronavirus-driven lockdown and what the industry will look like afterwards.

In order to preregister for the free webinar, which will take place at 2pm UK (6.30 pm India) on Monday April 6, please click on the following link:

 

Register for Webinar

PNG Jewellers is one of India’s leading jewellers. How have you been managing the business through the lockdown? What has the lockdown meant for your staff?

Mr. Saurabh Gadgil, Chairman and Managing Director, PNG Jewellers:

At the retail level of our business, the front end, there is absolutely no activity.

At the back end, we are engaging with our teams to discuss new collections for the year, trend forecasting and streamlining of operational processes, identifying options for cutting costs and budgeting for the coming year.

We are planning for potential scenarios when the stores will be open again.

Since the end of March was the close of the financial year in India, we are finalising our balance sheets, reaching out to our auditors and bankers, preparing the management information systems (MIS) for the year end, and targets for 2020-21.

Our HR team has created an appraisal mechanism where individuals can fill in their performance sheets online.

Those performances are being reviewed online and appraisals are under way.

The management teams are extremely busy identifying solutions for the challenges ahead.

One of the things we have ensured is that our lower level staff get paid in full and we are helping them with the right advice, to steer away from rumours and false information.

We are trying to cover everything from mental health issues to financial doubts and insecurities.

Mr. Anil Prabhakar, Jewellery Consultant:

While the lockdown has made the staff  anxious about their immediate future, many organised retailers have assured them security and timely payment of their remuneration.

Large Organised players such as Tanishq are working closely with their franchisees to ensure that business runs as usual after the lockdown is lifted.

Do you anticipate devising fresh online strategies to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic?

Mr. Saurabh Gadgil, Chairman and Managing Director, PNG Jewellers:

Once markets open up, we will have a better understanding of consumer buying behaviour in this new world.

We will need to study trends coming up across retail, and buying patterns of consumers across categories.

Health and hygiene will be priorities for most people, and omni-channel marketing will play a key role.

Browsing through catalogues and selections will take place online whereas the actual transaction will be conducted offline.

Shopping from home, and home viewings will become more acceptable too.

History suggests people have always preferred going to the store to buy jewellery, but that I believe may see some change.

Stores will have to ensure that the hygiene aspects are taken care of, with placements of hand sanitizers, providing consumers more space to maintain physical distance and yet get a complete shopping experience.

This will continue until we know that the virus is completely stamped out and that people can go back to living their lives like they used to.

Mr. Anil Prabhakar, Jewellery Consultant:

Most retailers have rediscovered the power of online medium and are expediting their plans to go online not just for  marketing, but expect sales transactions as well. Many  Jewellers are working towards making their websites e-commerce enabled.

Online jewellery market places provide a good alternative to retail Jewellers. With consumers spending disproportionately longer time being online, being visible and therefore discovered has become a top priority.

How will the attitudes of customers to precious jewellery change during the lockdown, and what will the jewellery market be like as we come out of this period?

Mr. Saurabh Gadgil, Chairman and Managing Director, PNG Jewellers:

I strongly believe that consumption of precious metals and jewellery in India is not restricted to adornment but is also for investment.

Indians believe in investing in gold and other precious metals which have a strong cultural, societal as well as status-led significance.

Jewellery is very important from the point of view of religious days as well as religious festivals.

Jewellery buying in India will not be impacted by this. In fact, more and more people will increase the level of gold investments in their portfolios.

If today an investor has 10% of precious metal investments in his/her portfolio, the same figure will reach up to 30% in the coming days.

Gold will become a very serious alternative investment vehicle. The yellow metal will become extremely attractive to those who have been investing in real estate and mutual funds.

From the industry perspective, we will see a lot of consolidation happening.

Since the days of demonetisation, we have seen the sector becoming more and more organised; working conditions will improve; systems and processes will be far more streamlined, and new partnerships will be forged.

Overall, the industry will bounce back with a vengeance!

Mr. Anil Prabhakar, Jewellery Consultant:

Indians buy jewellery for investment and adornment.

Buying gold and gold jewellery is an integral part of Indian consumers’ DNA. Gold prices have not just remained firm, they have been rising steadily.

The high prices are unlikely deter the investment demand as gold as an asset class has now become attractive as compared to mutual funds. While the market has gone down by 35 %, gold has bucked the trend. Due to the pandemic many weddings have had to be postponed and once things are back to normal, gold buying is expected to resume gradually.

Do you foresee an economic slowdown in India?

Mr. Saurabh Gadgil, Chairman and Managing Director, PNG Jewellers:

From the IMF to the World Bank, everyone is talking about a recession which will be far larger than the one seen in the 1930s.

So yes, India will also see an economic slowdown.

How quickly we are able to bounce back remains to be seen.

Some sectors will see a huge impact, while others may be moderately affected. The hit will be across all sectors.

This year most organisations as well as economies will see negative growth.

A lot will depend on how efficient, how flexible and adaptive to changing environments one can be.

Right now, the most important thing is to stay healthy and use this time to reboot, reset, look within and reinvent oneself.

Mr. Anil Prabhakar, Jewellery Consultant:

India is an integral part of the global economy and like most nations, the pandemic will adversely affect the Indian economy. The impact however, will depend on how fast we are able to control the outbreak.

We hope given the efficient manner in which the government authorities are handling the crisis, the impact is less severe as compared to others.

Biography

 

Dr Saurabh Gadgil

 

Dr Saurabh Gadgil

Saurabh Gadgil is MD and CEO of India-based P.N.Gadgil Jewellers, and has expanded the traditional business into a sizeable corporate entity. The brand has a legacy of trust, integrity and customer service. PNG also has a strong presence in Sunnyvale, California and the Middle East with a large store outlet in Meena Bazaar in the UAE.

 

INTERVIEW – Omni-channel marketing will be key post-lockdown in Indian jewellery trade, top jeweller says

 

Mr Anil Prabhakar

Anil Prabhakar is an India-based luxury and lifestyle marketing and PR professional with expertise in fashion, jewellery and watches. He holds a degree in science with postgraduate qualifications in Management and Law. Anil is a sought after anchor and speaker at knowledge forums.

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