Aug 12, 2019

Spectrum Seminars at IIJS Focus on Innovative Approaches to Business

The Spectrum Seminar series at IIJS Premiere 2019 covered a wide gamut of themes over the past few days addressing various aspects of the jewellery business including many new areas and approaches that have come into focus with the evolution of technology, marketing and the retail business.

A total of 13 seminars were scheduled, with practitioner-experts participating. The topics covered hard business (Industry Overview and How to Kick-Start Cycle of Growth),  to support advice for entrepreneurs and professionals (How to Become a Successful Exporter of Gems & Jewellery;  What They Don’t Teach You About Buyer-Seller Relationships; and Software Solutions for your B2B and B2C Needs) to a few on the younger generation in the business (Young Professionals: Reshaping Indian Traditional Jewellery Business;  Next Gen Jewellers: Advanced Knowledge)  and including information on MSME schemes, Upskilling etc etc.

Here are a few samplers.

“What they Don’t teach you about Buyer-Seller Relationships”

The provocative title seemed to have caught the attention of a number of young jewellers and this seminar with its offbeat theme drew a large audience.

The context-setting presentation by Ramesh Dorairaj, Founder, Leader’s Anvil, a business coach and author of the book ‘Games Customer’s Play’ was simple and thought provoking, discussing the grid of transactional relationships between buyers and sellers. Dorairaj fitted them into four quadrants – From It to It (an impersonal transaction eg buying a bus ticket) at one extreme, to a You to You (where the buyer and seller both interact at a personal level eg doctor – patient relationships). He also cited four modern business ways in which a seller could escape what he called “Buyer-Tyranny” (an You to It relation) – creating an integrated eco-system for the product; Customisation and Transparency; Hiding all Complexity and Reduction in Customer Effort.

A panel comprising Piyali Sen, Head of Buying & Merchandising, Tanishq; Ishu Datwani of Anmol Jewellers; Sanjeev Kejriwal of Metal Arts Creations; Himanshu Shekhar of Manoharlal Jewellers; Ramniklal Shah of Venus Jewel and moderated by Anil Prabhakar, veteran Watch & Jewellery Consultant discussed the theme from different perspectives. These ranged from the corporatised professionalism that characterises the operations of Tanishq, to the equally professional but extremely personalised style and human touch approach of Anmol and Venus.

The overall take away was that the jewellery industry should strive to develop systems and professionalism while delivering a quality product on the one hand, and build strong relationships based on trust that also acknowledged the real value of the product. As one of the panellists summed it up, “The buyer-seller equation should be an equal relationship based on a Win-Win approach; if you try to ‘win’ each time at the cost of the other, you ultimately end up losing.” 

“Young Jewellery Professionals: Reshaping the Traditional Way of Doing Business”

Another session that got an enthusiastic response was the seminar focused on young jewellery professionals and their impact on the business.  The panel had a mix of professionals and those who were part of their family business; there were five women and a lone male.

Bhavishya Kelappan and Narendra Motwani represented Mia by Tanishq, and Malabar Gold & Diamonds; while Keerthana Grandhi, Devyani Dande and Peenal Rathod spoke on behalf of Vaibhav Jewellers, Vishakapatnam, Govind Dande & Sons, Nashik and Rathod Jewellers, Pune respectively. The sixth panellist was Pallavi Foley, designer-entrepreneur who runs her own business.

Anil Prabhakar moderated the discussion and in his opening remarks emphasised the need for creating unique consumer experiences and the importance of storytelling, drawing on experiences from luxury watch, apparel and jewellery brands.

Referring to a new category like Athleisure or active wear, he questioned whether Indian jewellers have created merchandise for this category of garments -- yoga & lounge pants with T shirts – that many women wear to the gym, to work or even for a casual outing.

Discussing concepts such as experiential retail, business storytelling, relevance of trust in the modern context, digital marketing, consumer aspirations and retail convergence, the panellists illustrated their views and concerns with the help of examples drawn from their personal and business experiences.

“Next Gen Jewellers: Advanced Knowledge”

Another seminar which was full to capacity, this one had the participation of Pooja Sheth, Managing Director, Limelight Lab Grown Diamonds Pvt Ltd; Ashish Pethe, Partner, Waman Hari Pethe Jewellers; Viral Kothari, Managing Director, Fine Jewellery Manufacturing ltd; and Saurabh Gadgil, Chairman & Managing Director, PNG Jewellers Pvt. Ltd.  The session was moderated by Hemant Shah, Consultant, Innovator, Speaker.

Shah began by eliciting the views of participants on what they perceived as the challenges confronting the gems and jewellery industry. Various points covered were the macro economic scenario, the segment losing the attention of consumers, and not enough promotions etc. In the face of all the points being raised, Gadgil said he saw the negativity gripping the industry as the biggest problem and that jewellers should change their mind set.

Shah said that the biggest challenge he felt was the fact that jewellery is not sold like any other product, let alone a brand, at a standard MRP, or asked-for price. Rather it is sold on a gold plus labour valuation. As such, areas like R&D, design etc could not be factored in, and indeed took a backseat affecting the quality of the jewellery itself.  He gave various examples like purchase of cars etc to support his belief.

There followed some discussion of branding and innovation and why the jewellery industry lacked innovation. Pethe said that about 80% of most retailers’ businesses were based on what he called “bread and butter” lines. They could only afford to keep 20% of “innovative” or out of the normal product.

Sheth, clearly enthused by the Lab Grown Diamond product which her company deals in felt it was an innovation and had a great future. 

There was some discussion on Millennial consumers and Kothari spoke about the importance of reaching them. 

Pic caption: Panellists at the seminar on Buyer-Seller Relationships (from l) Ramnikbhai Shah,Sanjeev Kejriwal, Ramesh Dorairaj, Anil Prabhakar, Piyali Sen, Himanshu Shekhar and Ishu Datwani