Jewelry designers face the delicate task of preserving their rich culture while adapting to the modern world. However, Ms Suhani Batwara; founder of Tanzire, has discovered a way to blend the two.
Born into a family of jewellers, Ms Batwara grew up fascinated by the craft, appreciating jewelry as the expression of the designer’s identity; philosophy on life and cultural values. After moving to Hong Kong, the technological heartbeat of the city inspired her to build Tanzire; a cutting edge e-commerce platform designed for jewelry designers.
Technology in Jewelry E-commerce
Buying jewelry entails buying a part of the jewelry designer’s creative journey. Traditionally this could only be experienced in a physical store, but with Tanzire; customers can experience this intimacy online.
Augmented Reality (AR)
In a physical store, the sparkle of a few pieces of jewelry may catch your eye, but only one, gives you that special feeling when you try it on. Giving customers this experience is the joy of every jewelry designer and Ms Batwara seeks to manifest this emotional connection in online interactions. Therefore Tanzire is launching a mobile app that uses AR technology to virtually sculpt the jewelry onto the user so that they can judge if the look and feel is right.
Online Back-end Support
As a child, Ms Batwara would spend hours on a stool in her family’s workshop; captivated by the magic taking place. With this image in mind, she does not want the back-end to distract jewelry designers from creating art. At the same time, she is respectful of each designer’s individuality and thus Tanzire offers fully customisable back-end functions such as marketing campaigns and online store design.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The best jewelry designers take the time to listen to you, understand your life and recommend the right jewelry just for you. This bond is essential before you can trust in the jeweller’s judgement. Online, jewelry designers reach customers all over the world and thus are unable to meet each customer. However with AI, this bond remains. Calendars for example can be shared online and by specifying the jewelry worn in previous events, the AI can construct a profile of your inclinations. With these data insights, designers can curate the right jewelry for your future events.
Growth in Online Jewelry Sales
According to McKinsey, global jewellery sales will grow 5-6% annually to USD290 billion by 2020. By then 10% of sales will be online, almost double the share now. Asia in particular has been driving growth with a CAGR of 62.2% from 2011 to 2014. In Asia, Singapore has been identified as an ideal location for online jewellery given its robust e-commerce market and cross border sales capabilities. Even so, Singapore’s jewellery e-commerce is still in a nascent stage and thus Tanzire is helping Singaporean designers to establish themselves swiftly while they still have a first-mover advantage.
As sales go online, so too must marketing strategies. Perhaps the most effective online tool now is influencer marketing. For example, Tiffany & co has partnered with prominent Instagram account holders @kendalljenner (>93 million followers), @maddieziegler (>11 million followers) and @doyoutravel (>2 million followers). Aside from reaching their vast follower base, this carefully crafted strategy enabled the company to reach millennial and Gen Z consumers which are expected to become the most important cohort for diamond jewellery purchases according to DeBeers.
From this example we can see that digital marketing is not just about finding influencers with the most followers but identifying influencers that can reach the right audience and launching campaigns which bring out the right characteristics of the jewelry. With experience in the digital marketing industry, Ms Batwara recognises that while a digital strategy is crucial, it can be an arduous distraction for non-professionals. Therefore Tanzire will handle influencer marketing and other components of digital marketing so that jewelry designers can focus on crafting jewelry.
Hope from Jewelry
Having volunteered for over 2 years in organisations like the Indian Development Foundation, City Youth Empowerment Project and Naya Sawera NGO, Ms Batwara has seen many women in underprivileged communities sell jewelry to earn a secondary income for their families. Given the lack of globalisation in these communities, the jewelry are crafted with highly distinctive styles.
Here, Ms Batwara sees a huge opportunity for these entrepreneurial women since there are many of us who are unable to find that “special” one from the more renowned jewelry brands. Therefore in addition to working with designers from wealthy countries like Denmark and Hong Kong, Tanzire is helping designers in more exotic lands like Morocco and Romania reach a global customer base.
Building Trust with Jewelry Designers
Coming from a background in jewelry, Ms Batwara understands that jewelry designers have a special relationship with customers and will be wary of bringing that relationship online especially if the platform is new. Therefore she works hard to convince jewelry designers that despite Tanzire being a start-up, it is made specially to uplift them and will be complementary to their creative journey.
To do this, Tanzire researches heavily on the needs of jewelry designers so as to customise relevant solutions for them. In addition, designers are valued as partners to Tanzire and are regularly updated about the progress of Tanzire. In this way, Ms Batwara hopes that the designers will feel like they are active participants in the evolution of jewelry rather than mere merchants on a corporate platform.
Obtaining Funding & Support
Hong Kong’s investors are spoilt for choice given the booming start-up scene and thus competition for their attention is aggressive. In response, Ms Batwara says that the government and universities have been providing more support to start-ups in the form of funding, mentorship and contacts. In addition, the universities organise events like pitching competitions that give contestants much needed experience and exposure. In a recent startup competition, Tanzire was selected as one of the top 20 startups.
The Future of Jewelry
Unlike other industries which are dominated by a few players, the jewelry industry’s ten biggest players only hold around 12% of the market. This beautiful fragmentation makes this industry one of the most diverse since every jewelry designer carries a unique heritage.
As we wade deeper into Industry 4.0, Ms Batwara hopes to preserve this diversity by equipping jewelry designers with the latest technology to showcase their crafts all across the world, without losing their individuality.