Every year, the news media dutifully reports the surge in sales of gold on Dhanteras, which falls two days before Diwali, complete with pictures of buyers thronging jewellery stores.
This year, too, the sales surged -- but with a difference. This Dhanteras, from gold coins to precious jewellery items, people purchased everything online.
While buyers from metro cities led online gold shopping, buyers from non-metro, so-called tier-2 and tier-3 cities boosted jewellery sales across e-commerce platforms.
On Amazon, for instance, small towns constituted 20% of gold jewellery sales, from just single-digits last year. Of these, 12% were to first-time shoppers for jewellery on Amazon. Market leader Flipkart too said orders for gold had come from 53 new towns this October.
Explaining the demand from non-metro cities, Mayank Shivam, category leader, Amazon Fashion, said: “Customers from non-metro cities have limited access to jewellery brands. They get the whole collection at one place on our platform.”
Over 60% of jewellery orders were placed using mobile phones. In non-metro centres, this percentage goes up, Shivam said.
Bluestone.com, a Ratan Tata-funded online jewellery retailer, fulfilled 2,000 orders from non-metros in October 2016 compared to 1,000 orders last October. Around 30% of sales revenue comes from non-metro centres.
“The variety of designs and access to more designs options in a particular price range — Rs15,000 to Rs 40,000 — are drawing more customers online from non-metro cities,” said Arvind Singhal, COO, BlueStone.com. “About 60% of the products bought online were for cash-on-delivery.”
According to World Gold Council data, Indian gold demand for jewellery has shot up from 88.4 tonnes in the first quarter of 2016 to 97.9 tonnes in Q2. For gold bought as investment, the numbers rose from 28 tonnes in Q1 to 33.1 tonnes in Q2.
E-commerce sites have seen a steady rise in demand for jewellery. Amazon registered over six times growth in its precious jewellery segment this year, compared to last festive season, in terms of units sold. Overall gold sales at Flipkart was four times more than last year, a company spokesperson said. Bluestone had an annualised turnover of Rs 150 crore in FY 2014-15 which grew to Rs 250 cr in FY 2015-16, and 70% of the jewellery sales at Bluestone comprised of diamond jewellery and gold-laced diamond jewellery.