In a move that signals the sign of things to come, Chennai-based jewels and gems e-tailer, CaratLane.com opened its first ‘Solitaire Experience Lounge’, in New Delhi. This is among the first such initiative in the Indian e-commerce landscape and helps customers to get a first-hand feel of the Carat Lane brand, speak to diamond consultants, try on samples of the jewellery and experience the online buying process. The store was inaugurated by beauty queen and Bollywood actress, Amy Jackson. The move is in complete contrast to the model that was generally in place, with offline retailers such as Tanishq opening up their online store on the back of a large physical presence.
The Solitaire Experience Lounge will be an on-ground extension of the Carat Lane online store and aims to educate customers about diamonds and diamond buying. The Lounge will also help facilitate transactions by handholding customers through the entire buying process. The actual purchase of diamonds and other precious jewellery, however, can be made online atCaratLane.com or at the Experience Lounge. Customers can continue to enjoy upto 25% savings on Solitaires as the pricing in the Lounge will be the same as on the website.
Speaking on the launch of the store, Mithun Sacheti, CEO and co-founder, CaratLane, said “The Solitaire Experience Lounge is about taking Carat Lane to where the customer is. The idea is to bring the website into the Indian retail environment and create another touch point for the customer. Research tells us that a lot of times customers are willing to buy online but they just want to ‘see’ the organization. We believe that by bridging the online-offline gap, this initiative has the potential to be a game changer for e-commerce and diamond buying in India.”
The 400 sq ft hi-tech walk-through lounge in Delhi’s GK-II M-Block Market is designed to encourage ‘browsing’, like on a website or at a luxury store. It has several touch screens that showcase the Carat Lane collection and help the customer understand diamonds better. Customers can find the perfect diamond of their choice from a range of over 1,20,000 solitaires and evaluate the quality and integrity of diamonds through MS Surface-based interactive screens that provide detailed information about each piece of jewellery.
The initiative is targeted at customers who are increasingly tuned to the idea of making high value purchases online, as also others who want to reach out to the traditional diamond and solitaire buyer who requires high personal attention due to the nature of the category.
Speaking with Iamwire about the company’s future strategy, Kalaivani Sadagopan, Senior VP, CaratLane, said, “CaratLane is experiencing steady growth and has grossed revenues of Rs 50 Crore in FY 2011-12. We aim to touch the Rs 150 Crore mark for FY 2013. In the coming year, we are looking at launching six more Solitaire Experience Lounges across the country. The next two are already in the pipeline and will be opened in Hyderabad and Mumbai.”
CaratLane was founded in 2008 by Mithun Sacheti from Jaipur Gems, and IT entrepreneur Srinivasa Gopalan in 2008. The company ships over 1000 orders per month and had received a $6 million funding from New York based Tiger Global in June 2011. The company saves on inventory and store overheads and passes on that benefit to the consumers in the form of a 25% discount.
Other companies operating in the jewels e-tailing category are JewelsKart and BlueStone, with others such as Johareez, ANS Jewellery, Surat Diamond, following a slightly different model.