The term on-line business pops up frequently in everyday conversation. Though we don’t realize the impact this term has over our corporate lives yet Internet that is the epicenter of this phrase certainly effects our everyday functioning in a big way. It’s not even essential to know or be working on World Wide Web to benefit from it. The products we consume, the lifestyle we adopt, the opportunities that build a remarkable future are in someway or the other communicated through virtual media. India unlike western countries was not a very active part of the virtual world a decade ago but it could not resist the temptation of being virtually embedded for long. Hence, it was after 1995 that internet entered popularity segment. Since then there has been no looking back. Serious stuff like selling and buying which involves exchange of lucrative currency is being regularly done on-line. Every involved industry has undergone a swift change from being just a physical entity to being present on the online universe. Diamond industry has also abided by the trend. The story below reflects various developments thereof so far.
Anil D. Shah of Venus jewels
Indian B2B Portals:
For India, the biggest diamond manufacturing centre, it becomes even more important to go on-line as maximum portion of its diamond consuming market lies in western countries which are not only familiar with the on-line medium but also find shopping through internet a preferable option. “Consumers abroad are more conversant and comfortable with the e-selling concept as the same has been in vogue in other business sectors for quite some time now. Also, the consumer rights protection laws and systems abroad seem to be much more effective than here which probably works as a very strong reassurance, reinforcing their confidence in buying on-line. Consequently, consumers abroad do not usually have many reservations in buying diamonds on-line. So far as we can understand, the concept of high value purchasing over the internet in India is yet to reach its full potential,” observes Anil D. Shah of Venus Jewels.
Nishit Mehta, Sales Executive, D. Navinchandra & Company says, “As per my observation, amongst other nations US is a very big market in terms of selling on-line since they are at ease with internet. Besides US, Israel is also a good market for this type of selling.”
Some of the Indian diamond selling portals are listed below:
A Surat based diamond manufacturing house Venus Jewels is famous with its customers worldwide for being updated with latest technology. The firm was also one of the first few companies to venture online. Anil Shah elaborates, “During the internet boom, there was a rush of companies that wanted to expand by selling on-line. During this period in 1997 we launched our own website www.venusjewel.com. We uploaded our entire inventory i.e. large sized high value diamonds from 0.50 to 5.00 carats and above for our buyers. Consequently, we sell more than 37% of our large sized diamonds through our website. We have also developed a website www.diamondpair.com wherein retailers can select computerized matching pairs of diamonds.”
J.B. Brothers followed the trend closely. “We have been e-selling since 2000. Internet has brought the revolution in India and due to this business scenario has changed. Now, the world has become a global business village. Customers can buy the product of their interest on-line which saves their time and money. To become more advanced and competitive in business, we specialized in e-selling,” confirmed Sanjay Shah, Partner, J.B. Brothers.
While these were the early starters many entered the on-line realm recently. “Due to the technology boom and increased use of internet as a communication medium,e-selling of loose diamonds has particularly gained momentum in the last 2-3 years. Suashish is involved in selling its diamonds through a B2B e-marketplace since last year. Internet is a very convenient medium and with changing market and growth in number of internet users, e-selling has gained much importance. E-selling gives you an option to carry business 24x7 and it breaks the barriers of distance and time. It helps reach a very wide target market, at comparatively very low costs. Considering the above advantages, Suashish was prompted to go into e-selling,” tells Ashish Goenka, MD, Suashish Diamonds Limited.
Nishit Mehta, Executive Sales, D NavinChandra & Company shares the company’s experience, “E-selling of loose diamonds got impetus in India approximately two years back. We have also been e-selling loose diamonds for the same time span. The main aim of entering the virtual world was to touch the international clients in a big way with incurring lower cost. It was then that we came up with our website www.dnavin.com. In the normal course one needs to simply log onto this site and surf through the diamonds of his choice. The next step would be to contact me. For international payments we only run the COD system of payment. As far as credibility of the client is concerned we take the help of GJEPC to inquire about the client. We also have offices in a number of countries so we try and gather information from there. Our on-line sales are increasing at a rate of 10 per cent each year.”
Most of the above listed companies cater to trade people. Wholesalers, retailers, traders and designers frequently visit trade portals. However, few of these and many other manufacturers have entered the retail domain too. Benefits, specifications and obviously inventory vary from company to company. Customers require registering in these websites to get inside the firewall protected area. Similar to any other trading websites these web spaces also have shopping carts, search engines, display page and contact information fields. However, the trade portals have to be very diligent with the authentication process of the customers. (This topic is discussed in detail further in the story.) Usual mode of payment is through a Bank Channel. It includes Telegraphic Transfer, SWIFT, Cheque, Demand Draft (DD), e-transfer, etc. normally, Goods are dispatched only upon receipt of the payment; hence, this mode is the safest. Unlike other goods ‘Companies cannot sell loose diamonds through credit cards’ as per the guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Ashish Goenka, MD, Suashish Diamonds Limited.
Facts Hard to Ignore:
Listed below are some facts on Indian internet habits that greatly reflect the bubbling potential for the retail and trade portals as well.
According to a survey conducted by Internet & On-line Association of India (IOAI), a not-for-profit industry trade organization, there would be an estimated growth of 300 per cent plus in the on-line industry during the next couple of years. The IOAI research report conducted in association with Cross Tab Marketing Services has tracked Internet user’s proclivity for shopping on-line. The research was undertaken with a view to understand the profile, Internet usage, products purchased along with propensity to buy along with the nuances of shopping on-line with the shopper’s affinity and aversions to on-line shopping. Changing lifestyles and shopping habits make this shopping medium hard to ignore. The report makes actionable recommendations on how on-line retailers can fill gaps in the on-line environment as well as how they can utilize unique elements of the on-line shopping experience to create a competitive advantage over the physical retailing world.
Neville Taraporewalla, Chairman, IOAI said, “The rapid development of e-commerce is forcing companies today to adopt business strategies revolving around the Internet. The report reflects the changing face of business trends in India. Today, the Internet using population is 25+ million and is expected to grow at 100 million by 2007 (Source:IOAI). The report can act as a guideline on how on-line retailers can use this business environment to their advantage”.
Mahendra Swarup, Vice-Chairman, IOAI, added, “This business module is cost effective, easily accessible and profitable in many functional areas. Consumers and retailers both desire a safe, simple and comprehensive on-line shopping experience that will truly realize the range of power of the Internet.”
According to Preeti Desai, President, IOAI, “E-commerce is coming of age in India. Changing lifestyles and shopping habits will propel e-commerce transactions to an estimated Rs. 2,300 crore (Rs. 23 billion) in 2006-07.”
Advantages of internet are not unknown. An unimaginable information database is just a click away. WWW is literally world’s biggest information repository. A quick look at the advantages listed below is enough to encourage diamond industry to turn and take the web route.
Interestingly, large size diamonds are widely sold on internet. “E-selling of diamonds is popular in big size diamonds since it’s feasible to give description for larger sizes as compared to small size diamonds. Moreover, e-selling of diamonds is more popular in larger size diamonds which are certified. This is because a person would want to examine the quality of the goods before buying and with certification of goods this drawback of not being able to physically examine the goods is overcome,” says Ashish Goenka. Anil Shah adds, “Since customers are buying on-line without physical inspection, superior product quality, consistency and detailed grading becomes more important. We have seen that most of our large sized high-end diamonds are sold through our website in sizes ranging from 1.00 carat and above in IF to SI1 clarity.”
Following the precious nature of the product the website hosts usually provide ample of supplementing services to customers. Digital images of diamonds, shipping status, tracking of parcels, certification, delivery and accessible information kit amongst others comprise the value kitty.
Client Verification - A Crucial Exercise:
Prior to settling the deal with the client, it is very important to check and double-check the authenticity of the buyer! Generally research work or help from Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council or credentials of the clients and references must be considered before entering into any deal since cyber crime is on high currently.
Sanjay Shah says, “We always ask the buyer to give references and then we confirm those references to cross-check the authenticity of that particular buyer.”
E-Commerce is coming of age in india. Changing lifestyles and shopping habits will propel e-commerce transactions to an estimated Rs.2,300 Crore (Rs.23billon) in 2006-07.
Preeti Desai, President, IOAI
Build Your Own Web-space:
In this competitive world if one has to stay ahead, being updated on latest technology is very essential. Considering the manifold advantages of having a website, one should take a step ahead and make an international presence by selling on-line.
The basic costs involved in getting a website made are:
Over and above a lot depends on individual liking and decision. For instance Venus Jewels pays special attention to ensure that their website is maintained properly by a back office IT team. “The dedicated back-office I.T. team ensures security, administration and monitoring and improving customer services. IT based Tracking System facilitates tracking of every solitaire, right from the supplier to the market, thus maintaining a detailed record of each solitaire’s unique journey,” informs Anil D. Shah.
Advantages, connectivity and international clientele all is fine, but the paradox of going on-line is that if it takes a person a second to reach the website it takes less than a second to make an impression about the company! Therefore, while getting a website made, it is essential to ensure that the website is done professionally. The first time cost may be high but maintenance cost goes down over a period of time. Also a sound website would automatically cover up the cost.
With youth spending increasing amounts of time on-line and having a high disposable income coupled with spare time, on-line shopping is gaining popularity. The internet offers the buyer a vast choice of goods to buy whether expensive or bargains.
Deepa Thomas details reasons of increasing popularity of on-line shopping, “Indians are becoming increasingly comfortable with e-commerce as evidenced by the IAMAI Power Shopper report sizing the e-commerce market at Rs.1180 crore in 2005-06. This is estimated to explode in the year 2006-07 to Rs. 2,300 crore. With each passing day, there is an increase in people’s trust and confidence to come and trade on-line. The biggest driver of course is the range and availability of thousands of products at a great price. With youth spending increasing amounts of time on-line and having a high disposable income coupled with spare time, on-line shopping is gaining popularity. The Internet offers the buyer a vast choice of goods to buy whether expensive or bargains. A range of people turn to Internet for deals in jewellery products.”
Be it retail or business platform internet is a passage to wonders. Wonder how big is the potential. Well, take the plunge to reap the benefits!