Browse, select, pay – all it takes is a few clicks and you can buy yourself anything from groceries to the latest smartphone online. There is an extreme sense of comfort and trust we enjoy today in shopping across a multitude of e-commerce platforms. However, the same doesn’t hold true when it comes to high-value fine jewellery. While our country’s love affair with gold is indisputable, Indians haven’t exactly warmed up to the idea of buying the precious metal online.
And this is something Shailen Mehta learnt eight years ago when he co-founded a solitaire jewellery business. The budding entrepreneur realised that customer acquisition was a bigger pain point than finding the right suppliers. He noticed that most jewellery stores had limited customers due to their restricted physical store presence. This at a time when online jewellery retailers such as CaratLane and BlueStone were not recording high-value purchases. Seeking to change the way Indians buy jewellery online, Mehta signed up 54 jewellers and started eJohri in February this year.
“We wanted to bring jewellers across the country online. Many didn’t have a website and the ones that had a portal were not up to the mark,” he recalls. Apart from creating just another online marketplace, eJohri allows one to compare products online and even book a physical store visit. eJohri currently charges an annual subscription fee of Rs.50,000 for every listed entity and pockets a 4% and 7% commission for gold and diamond, respectively for online sales. Mehta, who invested Rs.15 million to start the venture, has so far listed 12,000 products on the portal that witnesses an average ticket price of Rs.18,000.
But the jewellery start-up won’t depend on commission revenue for long. It plans to raise the subscription fee to Rs.150,000 and Rs.250,000. Why should a jewellery brand pay the portal that much? Mehta believes that apart from offering a growing customer base, eJohri can also provide valuable insights on customer preferences. “By March we will have sufficient data wherein we will be able to guide the stores about the most sought after items. Within two years, we will be able to influence buying behaviour and help jewellers identify trends such as what is going to sell more next Diwali,” he adds. So, are you still relying on your neighbourhood johri or will you finally buy that pretty neckpiece you’ve been eyeing online?