Mumbai-based Candere, an online jewellery store, was started in a small rented place that could accommodate only three people. Six years down the lane, it has more than 100 employees and a three-floor office with 4,000 customer base every month.Palak Agarwal
Most women spend a lot of time at the store when they purchase jewellery. This is not just because jewellery can be expensive, but each piece carries a lot of sentiment, and are often heirlooms left for their daughters. This is why selling jewellery online is a bold move in India, where families go into stores together to purchase gold.
But for Candere, the move to start online in the space paid off when it decided to sell its precious jewellery on its ecommerce website in 2013. Since then, the company has come a long way, generating a revenue of Rs 35 crore annually.
This was the time when BlueStone and Caratlane were finding their feet in the online jewellery market. Mumbai-based Candere stepped in to provide customers with precious jewellery pieces with a personalised touch.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Rupesh Jain, Founder of Candere, explains how the company came about as a result of his love for technology and his family’s experience in jewellery retail.
My family was in the jewellery business for the past three decades and I knew the shortcomings of this industry. I knew that technology will change the business, and if I could satisfy my clients by providing them online what they seek in an offline jewellery store, the business will succeed in the internet space,” says Rupesh.
In a family of retail jewellers, 34-year-old Rupesh stood out with his IT engineering degree and experience. He had served as Company President at Ornet Technology and as a software engineer at L&T Infotech. And it was this experience in technology that made him start Candere.
In 2013, inspired by popular US retailer James Allen, Rupesh set out to set up Candere. He spent almost 20 hours a day on product images to list them on his website.
He used computer-aided design (CAD) software and image synthesis to create graphics, and added to it a customised environment to enhance the visibility of the product while listed on the website.
He then rented out a small space in a residential complex in Mumbai, which could accommodate three people, and was officially open for business.
The brand deals in precious metals, diamonds, and platinum and receives most of the raw materials from Zaveri Bazaar and Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai.
Candere received its first order in 2013 from a customer working in Oracle in Bengaluru for a ticket value of Rs 45,000. This was a great confidence booster for the small team. However, the volume of the orders was slow in the beginning, and Rupesh came up with another plan.
We thought that the Indian online jewellery market will take its own time to mature. And, to be up in the industry we needed to explore outside India. Thus, we registered the brand on eBay and started selling in the US market. Surprisingly, during that phase, we had most of our customer base from the US market. I remember, we received our first order from the US with a ticket value of $700.”
But he also made concerted efforts to increase visitors to his website as well. Hence, through search engine optimisation (SEO), Facebook campaigns, and WhatsApp groups, Candere was able to get customer traction on its own website. And, in 2014, it gained huge traction in the online market space. As a result, Rupesh decided to delist from eBay to focus solely on Candere’s own ecommerce efforts for the Indian market.
There is always a difference in the product line, price point, and competition in other markets and I have vast knowledge in the Indian jewellery market. Hence, I found it best to utilise the resources to expand Candere in India,” Rupesh adds.
In 2015, when Candere started using Google Adwords it saw an increase in the number of visitors per month, at one lakh from the earlier 40,000.
By 2017, ecommerce giants Flipkart and Amazon had gained momentum by selling jewellery online, and Rupesh listed his brand on these platforms as well, thus tapping the larger untargeted customer base.
At present, the website has 1.5 million visitors every month and receives approximately 4,000 monthly orders. Six years down the lane, the company employs more than 100 employees and has moved from a small space to a three-floor office.
Candere was started with an initial investment of Rs 1 crore, and the funds were utilised in integrating technology with the business. In 2015, Rupesh raised the first round of funding from angel investors from Hyderabad.
In 2016, he raised another funding round from the same investor to increase marketing efforts. Rupesh says that he didn’t want to invest in inventory to pile up the stock and wait for its sale. Rather, he wanted to explore all the marketing segments to increase its customer base.
We operate in made-to-order business model and our turn-around-time for delivery is 10-14 days. So, my focus remains on marketing and getting the product manufactured as soon as the order is received.”
Candere was one of the first players to launch online jewellery marketplaces along with BlueStone and CaratLane. Talking about the competition, Rupesh says,
“Each player in the market has a different design to offer. The jewellery varies from region to region. Thus, there has been no competition and challenge in terms of the players in the market.”
Since inception, Candere had a vision of attaining a strong offline space in the market. The Kalyan Jewellers merger proved to be a natural move to that end.
In 2017, Candere joined hands with Kalyan Jewellers on a merger of 60:40 ratio where Kalyan Jewellers invested approximately Rs 50 crore. Rupesh says,
“We always had the vision to enter a strong offline space and after the merger with Kalyan we get access to the whole supply chain management, and managing capital becomes easy for us.”
In the long run, Kalyan will acquire Candere, he adds.
After the merger with Kalyan, Rupesh is planning to manufacture more inventory. With the launch of its ‘virtual try on’ on its website, the company is also aiming to solve the problem for customers who struggle to find their ring size online. Rupesh says that they have a product in its beta launch that will help customers identify their ring size in a swipe on their smartphone.
He notes that with the push for digitisation and increase in cashless transactions, there is huge potential for online jewellers like Candere to serve customers who want to shop for high-ticket items right from the comfort of their home.
On his future plans, Rupesh says that he wants to target the global network through Kalyan’s platform.