Our industry, just like the others in the realm of luxury is going through a watershed moment, thanks to COVID-19. Added to that, the single act of dropping the Rapaport price list on March 19th when the market has literally been on a comatose, has paved way for a lot of questioning, discussions, innovation and inventions. When one door shuts, many open and as Rapaport Group decides to stick with its latest price list, hundreds of companies decided to delist their stocks and move onto other portals. On the other hand, service providers have been working round the clock to create alternative state-of-the-art trading platforms or better their existing ones.
Over the week, we saw a handful of diamond trading portals engage in webinars, giving us a little demo on how their portals work. Diamond World got in touch with all the players to understand their competitive edge over the others and what they have to offer.
By the Industry, For the Industry
To outperform a major player who has had a monopoly for several decades, the first and foremost criteria for any of these trading portals is to have a deep understanding and knowledge of diamonds. People from the diamond industry understand the pain points involved in selling diamonds, from procuring finance to payment and logistics. Most players who are at present in the bid to offer a highly effective networking platform where buying and selling can happen cogently are invariably from the diamond business or the jewellery industry. A majority of these companies are relatively new entrants in the market with prior experience in the diamond or jewellery business.
Two key criteria you should keep in mind before you select your trading portal:
Diamond pricing has always been a matter of debate. Should the industry embrace a price list for diamonds? If so, should the industry collectively create a price list or should the trading portal govern the pricing based on trading activity? Many believe that diamond is not a commodity and hence there shouldn’t be a price list at all and suppliers must be able to price their diamonds as they wish. But for four decades, the industry has been following a universal price list. So before you take a call, please check whether or not the portal allows you to determine your own pricing
While on the one end an understanding of diamonds and how this industry works is important, on the other, the one who leverages technology the most to understand user behaviour and utilize the same to provide topnotch services to its members will have an undue advantage. Take for example Amazon – the success of this ecommerce giant has been backed by its ability to use data to create customized experiences for its users. Amazon also uses this data to further build its relationship with customers. The most successful trading portal will be the one that uses tech to create a seamless selling and buying experience – all the vendors have to worry about is creating the perfect diamond.
Table 1: Comparative Analysis of Get-Diamonds.com, Idexonline.com, VDB.com, Polygon.net, Diasense.in and Uni.com
Analysis in a Gist
Based on experience, number of diamonds listed, registered buyers and sellers, Idex seems to be the front-runner, as it also provides financing as well as logistics. Like with most cases, the portal however only allows the listing of polished diamonds. Polygon has been in the market since the mid 80s – from starting off as a message board to the industry to post wanted requests and items for sale to becoming a wholesome trading portal with a veritable range of inventory including diamonds, coloured stones, watches, estate and finished jewellery, Polygon has evolved to include many more sophisticated features and tools for wholesalers and retailers. Loose diamonds can be searched based on certified, non-certified, parcels, fancy coloured and lab-grown are not included in search results by default but users can search these listings separately. One of the key benefits for retailers is that they can use Polygon to source quickly and efficiently what they need, when they need it, rather than having to invest heavily in stock. They can also use Polygon to sell secondary market goods they buy off the streets, or liquidate older stock. For wholesale members, there are no limits on inventory line items, or users per account.
WFDB backed Get-Diamonds is due for a launch soon and already it has over 500,000 diamonds listed. At the time of the launch, this number will touch 700,000+ as the portal has received a surge of registrations in the last 10 days. If you want to place your diamonds with an entity that has no vested interest (non-profit) without any membership fee (for now), then Get-Diamonds may be the right choice for you and as far as pricing goes, like the majority of the industry, they seem to be following the 6/3/2020 price list. If you are looking at tailor-made services, as though the portal was created for you specifically, then VDB is a definite contender. It is also has a robust inventory of polished diamonds, gemstones, jewellery as well as lab-grown diamonds. VDB also allows a vendor to curate collections out of his inventory and showcase it to whomever he chooses to and this is an excellent feature. VDB offers the ability to perform searches with customers so they can pinpoint exactly what they are looking for, prequalifying and therefore pre-selling each item before they even have the item in hand. VDB’s price markup modes, HD images, and 360 degree videos, allow all of that to happen. In addition, the VDB platform has features such as automatic match, share favorites and collections, buy, memo, hold request, and in app messaging with suppliers that really provides a unique customer experience that is catered to modern shoppers. If you don’t want any portal to govern your pricing and wish to go with your own pricing, then VDB is the portal for you, however, it does not offer logistics or financing at the moment. For a more nuanced, end-to-end diamond trading solutions, UNI Diamonds with its various membership programmes offers a variety of services. The UNI Free platform, which will be ready in a few days will be free for all. However under UNI Standard and Prime, 3 per cent will be accrued to the diamond price after being sold. However, under these platforms a member gets a host of features like selling anonymously, shipping, 50% upfront financing, free professional photography and more. More importantly, UNI allows members to decide their own prices – the data and analytics from the industry is merely used to understand the market prices and demands, to further enhance the trading experience on its portal. SoftSense Technologies backed Diasense with close to 5 years in the market, has 200,000 listed diamonds. The portal presents interesting features for buyers as well as sellers for ease of trading like Top 10 analysis where buyers can choose suppliers based on their demand and budget, filter diamonds based on cut, clarity, colour, fluorescence and more at a cheaper price. Diasense a price tool where in a inventory prices are compared with other suppliers and with the data arrived, it guides suppliers whether they are priced reasonably or not. The universal login feature is also a smart solution which will divert Diasense members’ traffic directly on suppliers’ website. Suppliers can integrate their universal login feature on their website to allow buyers to login to their own website directly without any registration process (like sign up with Facebook or Google feature). If you are buyer who doesn’t want to pay a premium and needs to have access to a plethora of goods with special tools that will help you choose the right product, then Diasense is a good choice.
DiamondWorld Viewpoint: We can see that all 6 portals have many common and as well a few unique features. Most of them offer free or nominal fee to upload inventory to gain market share, considering it is also an opportunity. Most of the sellers wouldn’t mind having an account in four or may be all the portals. The success of a trading portal in the near future will rely on who can provide diamond pricing insights (key issue) and buyer driven smart features and solutions. As this is the e-commerce space, once a buyer gets used to any one of the portal or gets the perception that he gets everything that he needs in a particular portal, he will not use any other.
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