There was a time when gold jewellery or diamonds and other precious stones were only bought from the trusted family jeweller. Now the trend is changing, with more people open to buying jewellery online.
"Online jewellery retail in India is at a very nascent stage but poised for huge growth . India has never before been so open to buying jewellery online like what we have seen in the recent times - jewellery is the largest selling product on eBay India," Vidya Nataraj, co-founder, bluestone.com, said.
"It is mostly branded jewellery, gems-studded jewellery, jewellery for fashion, lightweight designs and their wearability that fuel the demand of jewellery throughout the year," said Nataraj.
According to an Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) survey, the online retail market in India may grow to Rs70 billion (over $1.30 billion) by 2015 from Rs.20 billion in 2011 as internet access improves.
"There are no formal statistics, but trade numbers are around Rs 250 crore to Rs 300 crore and expected to grow at 100 percent every year. US online jewellery sales are 13 percent (approximately $4 billion) of the US jewellery market (approximately $30 billion). This gives us an indication of the potential of the Indian online jewellery market," said Nataraj.
But considering that most people in India prefer the touch, feel and try process before indulging in expensive purchases, there are several hurdles that online retailers have to overcome.
There are trust issues, which one needs to surpass by offering good variety and, most importantly, impressive and convenient after sales service, say experts.
"Little did anyone realise that there will be a day when internet would be trusted for something as valuable as gold and other jewellery," Peyush Bansal, founder and CEO, Jewelskart.com, said.
After lenskart.com (for optical needs), watchkart.com (for watches) and bagskart.com (for bags), jewelskart is the company's fourth vertical and, needless to say, Bansal was apprehensive.
"All our doubts were negated in just a couple of days. There were certain trust-building measures we had to take, like giving a Hallmark certificate with every piece of jewellery, cash on delivery service, 14 days no questions asked return policy and a fully trained customer care team which can resolve all your queries," he added.
Gaurav Issar of Jewelsnext.com agrees, saying: "People are opening up to the online purchase if the component of trust and choice is there. We've been able to sell and package deals worth Rs 1 million on marriage promotional packages. The biggest challenge for online commerce players is to bring choice."
Most sites offer a wide range of chains, pendants, rings, earrings, bracelets and simple as well as elaborate sets. It may or may not be branded, but authenticating the products is indispensable for the retailers.
Buying jewellery online is a safe process too, says Issar.
"It is quite safe in terms of supply chain as the products move in a completely secure environment and payment mechanisms are already quite secure in India from bank transfers, verified by visa, plus the chunk of the business happens on cash collection mode before or at the time of the delivery," added Issar.
But for any successful online jewellery site, the top most thing on the list of priorities should be customer care service.
"The most important thing is to gain customer's confidence which happens only when you satisfy a customer and deliver the product without troubling him," said Issar.