Inside Caratlane

It’s a sleepy Monday morning on Khader Nawaz Khan Road, with most store fronts still sporting shutters. But on the third floor of Caratlane’s signature store, fondly called the geek floor, a muted buzz welcomes me — at least 60 heads are bent over laptops and computer screens, as data scientists scan codes, pull up browsing data, and scroll through buying patterns and customer porfolios. This is not what you would imagine is driving the brand when you browse their gold and diamond jewellery in the showroom a couple of floors below, but it is what helps make the e-tailer India’s biggest online jewellery company.

“This is the future; the power of portfolios is changing dramatically. Predictive analysis is a big part of what we do, as the goal is to constantly build relevance. We use the information trails customers leave behind to predict what they like or want,” begins founder and CEO Mithun Sacheti. “For example, we know from past data that if someone has bought earrings from us twice (their best-selling category), the probability that four out of their next five purchases will be earrings is high. So we will tailor-make our approach accordingly. Or if you have used a price filter, we will factor in those price points each time we reach out to you. This is key because if the brand becomes irrelevant to you, then any marketing will become an irritant.”

Digital and diverse

At the digital-first company, the team logs in from across several cities, in touch with the ‘boss’ over daily calls and at least 45 WhatsApp groups. This, along with the diversity of its members, is crucial to maintaining the company’s competitive edge. “Initially, I had no one from the jewellery world; the first person I hired was from JJ School of Arts. Most of my team are from NID and NIFT, with majors as diverse as architecture, fashion and technology,” says Sacheti, 39, explaining that this diversity leads to discussions and disagreements, which, in turn, create ideas, innovations and different ways of thinking. “The challenge still is that only 2% are shopping online, though the numbers of people browsing have dramatically gone up. We need to push this to 8% and 10%,” he adds. The current figures are positive, though: Caratlane gets 1,00,000 visits on a regular day and last Diwali, the hits climbed to a staggering 2,75,000.

Leading the race
  • Strategy is what Sacheti believes differentiates Caratlane from its main competitors like Bluestone and Tribe by Amrapali. “The former is not design-led like us, while the latter is a curation brand,” he says. And despite pulling out of online platforms like Amazon and Flipkart, citing poor contribution to sales, he says the company is looking at a ₹300 crore turnover this fiscal. This comes in the wake of competitor Bluestone announcing late last year that they saw losses widen in 2016-17 as a result of demonitisation.

A young team (the youngest is 19) is also important in today’s online environment, where constant disruption is key. “There is a set of people that is always working on what is trending with millennial buying. We’ve realised that there are many who don’t attach value to spending big sums of money on jewellery. For them, rentals and subscriptions make more sense. So that is something we are looking at rolling out in the next six months,” he says.

Think millennial

So who is the millennial buyer? “They are confident and independent, capable of making all their decisions. They are a ‘me customer’ who look for anchors other than price — in fact, money isn’t a factor, as EMIs are the new reality, and most youngsters spend 10 times their salary,” he says. “Millennials need new things and a hook to hold on to the brand — it could be design (like us), a social cause, or something else.” They are early adopters of trends, too, he says. “They are a product of a different generation and strongly believe that their tastes and preferences reflect that.”

Technology goes a long way in building a millennial brand. Forty per cent of Caratlane’s business comes from its 3D app — they are still the only one in the world that lets people virtually try on jewellery. “All our signature stores (they are opening their 40th in Bhubaneswar by the end of the month) also have Connect, holographic boxes that let you browse our entire inventory in 3D. This adds to the desirability of the brand,” he says.

Impulse buying is another factor, especially since millennials do not believe jewellery is an investment. It is the everyday-quality that draws their attention. And this is where Caratlane helps push sales with predictive analysis. “The buying peak is at the beginning of the month, so if we time salary, an occasion and sale, we help them ‘pre-pone’ gratification,” says Sacheti.

Trust and disruption

It has been an eventful journey for the company — which turns 10 later this year and is currently worth ₹1,000 crore. Having started off with traditional jewellery (costing upwards of ₹2 lakh) and as pioneers of selling solitaires online (still a big draw with their double-level certifications and tamper-proof packing), Sacheti recalls how everyday jewellery became their calling card in 2011. “We came in with a problem statement — that the chemistry between the jewellery (store) and the consumer was broken. However, I believed the chemistry between the consumer and jewellery was still alive, and that’s why we exist. We’ve created something that evolves with changing environments,” he says.

But what about the current situation, with the Nirav Modi scandal ratcheting concerns about jewellery buying across the nation? Sacheti insists it has not impacted the company in any way. “With our partnership with Tanishq (it has a 62% stake in the company), we enjoy a high degree of trust from our customers,” he states. And the data crunchers second this. What’s — more, they are in a buoyant mood currently as they have discovered a strong male clientèle (around 32%) who they are now nurturing.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 1:30:09 PM |

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