Kalaivani Sadagopan, Sr. Vice President of CaratLane on Marketingand Selling Diamonds Since 2007

CaratLane.com started selling diamonds online back in 2008 when the Indian shopper had hardly woken up to online shopping. Founded by Mithun Sacheti, the scion of the family that owns Jaipur Gems, CaratLane is one of the biggest names in the Indian eCommerce ecosystem. Kalaivani Sadagopan the Senior Vice President at CaratLane has close to two decades of corporate experience in a variety of fields ranging from Product Development and Management to leading Marketing. She joined CaratLane before its inception in 2007 and has been heading Marketing & Sales along with Business Development. I got in touch with her to learn more about selling diamonds online.

You’ve been with CaratLane since 2007, what prompted you to get into it?

By the time CaratLane had come along, I had worked with several companies in various positions. I met Mithun who is also a friend and he had this idea of bringing all his knowledge and experience about diamonds online. It seemed very exciting and a challenge I wanted to take up. I decided to take it up and I’m glad that I did it.

Okay, so selling diamonds online. It has to be tough. How did you go about it?

The online business is more about educating the customer. Our whole aim has been towards making customers feel as if they’re buying from a human. We have a team of diamond consultants who guide the buyer at every stage. Apart from online help, a very strong customer support has been a huge factor.

What is the role of a diamond consultant?

There are a lot of fine details involved while buying a diamond for which the customers look for answers. We have an online diamond buying guide and a jewellery buying guide as well but nothing beats human interaction. Here’s where these consultants come in. A solitaire (a cut diamond is referred to as a solitaire) is recognized about from the 4 C’s: Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat weight.

Most of the people have this reservation, “I won’t buy until I touch and feel it.” This would be even more pronounced in case of diamonds. How do you address this issue?

Yes. That is a case in point but when one talks about diamonds, this doesn’t directly apply. Because with diamonds, even at a physical store, you don’t get exactly what you see. You’re shown a solitaire but once ordered, a similar diamond is cut and delivered. It’s not the same piece. So what happens online is that you don’t feel the diamond but you’re thoroughly informed about the product.

Kalaivani Sadagopan

Kalaivani Sadagopan

Talking about physical stores, how is CaratLane’s offline presence?

We recently launched the ‘Solitaire Experience Lounge’ in Delhi which is a high-end technology walkthrough store where users can try on jewellery, get acquainted with the online process and interact with diamond consultants. We plan to come up with similar lounges in 5 more cities by the end of this year, with Hyderabad and Mumbai being in the immediate list.

Great. When one speaks about online buying, modes of payment, delivering shipments and such factors come into play. What are your views here?

About the payment structure, we allow COD upto INR 10,000 but that is mainly because the service providers have a bar at INR 10,000. Most of the payments are made through cheques. And yes, we have to pay a premium for the deliveries but that is all included in the price that we offer the customer.

So, what are the number of transactions you see? Average ticket size and turnover?

We see about a 1000 transactions a month and generated revenue of Rs 50 Crore last year. The average ticket size varies. It is around a lakh rupees for solitaires and close to Rs 18,000 for jewellery and gold coins.

More about caratlane on the site.

Jubin Mehta

Jubin Mehta

Jubin is an old timer at YourStory. Deeply entrenched in the Indian startup ecosystem, he has written about more than 1000 startups. With an engineering background and a keen interest in data analysis, his passion for writing and entrepreneurship makes him a perfect match for Yourstory. He operates from the mountains in Dharamshala where he also runs a hackbase. He can be reached on Twitter @jub_in and on mail at jubin@yourstory.com