Respected industry consultant Hemant Shah, who will give a webinar entitled “Ready for Business Post Lockdown”, starting at 2 pm UK time (6.30 pm India) on Friday April 17, 2020, tells Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough that the global gems and jewellery industry will shed jobs after the lockdown and that companies need to devise clear tech-driven strategies to protect themselves and ultimately thrive after the emergency.
How will jewellery suppliers need to adapt to protect their businesses through and beyond the lockdown?
Through the lockdown find fun and innovative ways to stay connected with your customers at any stage of the pipeline, whether B2B or B2C.
Don’t send messages that are run-of-the-mill and where it just looks like the message from the other guy.
Use your imagination and create something that will stand out from the crowd and let it be fun…
This will help them remember you and keep you/ your brand at the top of their mind.
Try to communicate in a way in which you can get them to respond. Their responses will help you to plan the future, as surely business will never be the same again.
For the period beyond the lockdown, plan now and be ready to be the first to offer innovative services, products and offerings — so unique that they will enhance customers’ joy and relief after this trying time.
How will digital technologies drive change in the global gem and jewellery industry?
This is going to be the biggest driver after the lockdown. Everyone is going to be reluctant to step out and visit crowded places. Travelling will be a “have-to” affair.
Use technology to be able to tempt, sell and service your clients to the fullest.
Get experts to advise and help you innovate and plan on how this can be achieved to help not just sustain the business but also to help it thrive.
What should be the priorities of the jewellery trade associations, umbrella bodies and trade media during this period, in your view?
Firstly, use the time when we are in lockdown to educate, motivate and open the minds of association members and media consumers to come out with a bang after this period ends.
Get together a group of advisors/consultants who can help members strategise.
Present these options so that members/clients can use this period to start getting their action plan in place.
Get members to start designing and preparing new collections for after the lockdown.
Create a team of people who can interact with various state, bank, financial and other agencies to see what packages can be designed to help everyone through these tough times.
Do you foresee a net loss in jobs in the global jewellery and gems sector in the months ahead, considering the wide expectations for a severe global recession?
Yes, I do. Unfortunate as it is, this has already started and not only in our sector. It is there everywhere and will get worse.
I have been advising a few retailers on innovative ways to keep the employment status quo and create innovative services with the help of tech to be able to serve the client.
India will be badly hit, as a large chunk of the gem and jewellery fraternity are in manufacturing and frankly, we were over capacity for the demand that had been there even before the coronavirus pandemic.
Demand is going to decrease further and this will lead to a restructuring and I believe, a severe correction in the production capacities post lockdown. This will translate into significant layoffs.
In broad terms, what is the outlook for purchasing trends in precious and diamond jewellery?
I believe that the spending patterns and choices will undergo a major shift. There will be a significant curtailing of spending on some categories that are the biggest competitors, like travel and entertaining.
We will see a major increase in spending on technology.
However, jewellery is something a person is never done with buying and collecting — and people will still indulge in it.
But I see a serious shift in the amounts that people will allocate in their budgets to this category.
I see price points going south, and design and novelty becoming very important, even psychologically after the trauma we have gone through.
As a result, I see more demand for silver though gold will still prevail, predominantly because it can be cashed in.
I see a surge in the demand for laboratory-grown diamonds.