BlueStone.com, an online jewellery and accessories e-commerce venture has raised $5 million from Meena Ganesh, CEO & MD of Pearson Education Services and e-commerce obsessed Venture Capital firm Accel Partners. Bluestone has been founded by Vidya Nataraj and former CEO of Chakpak.com Gaurav Kushwaha. Nataraj has retail experience with Landmark Ltd before it was sold to TATA Trent and is married to Ganesh Narayan, Joint MD of jewellery business C. Krishniah Chetty & Sons, while Kushwaha was previously with Amazon.com and had also raised funds from Accel Partners for his (non-ecommerce) venture Chakpak.com. The fund raising was reported earlier today by VCCircle, though the details they mentioned are slightly different.
Speaking with MediaNama, Nataraj said that the company plans to use the funding to increase its design library and build on their use experience, trying to create as close a real life experience in shopping online, apart from touch and feel, and also invest in technology. She said that it’s too early to define a split in spends between marketing, technology, design and logstics, since the site has just gone live two days ago. At present, the plan is to focus on online marketing, social media and PR for marketing, and an offline campaign will be the next step, possibly 4-5 months down the line.
Margins: “With online, we don’t have rents, and this is significant especially in jewellery, since you have to hold stock. We pass on these benefits to the consumer, which is why it is cheaper online, and the cost for us would be substantially cheaper,” she said.
Stocks: As soon as the order is placed, Bluestone customises the product and gets it made for the customer. It is a just-in-time process, and as soon it’s ready, it is delivered. The company is working with manufacturers for this.
Cash On Delivery in Jewellery: “We are only doing Cash-on-delivery up to a limit of Rs 10000, but we will have our own representatives in main cities, so they can take care of Cash-on-delivery to a much higher limit, but that cannot be something which doesn’t make practical sense. We will have solitaires, and we have items like 2-3 lakhs.” At present, the highest ticket item on BlueStone is worth around Rs 2 lakh.
Ensuring Delivery & Cost Of Shipping: “How do you ensure delivery? We have tied up with several partners, including Blue Dart. They have a separate team for jewellery. It is all insured till it reaches the customers doorstep. It comes with an authentification, by a third party laboratory.” The cost of shipping for Jewellery is higher.
Lifetime Exchange Policy: Interestingly, Bluestone has a lifetime exchange policy, wherein a customer can purchase a product online,and return at any time for 80% of the purchase value. Natraj wouldn’t go into details, but said that they they have their own methods of handling this at the back end. The product that comes back retains the intrinsic value of the metals and the stones.
BlueStone.com is also offering at 30-day money-back guarantee to reinforce confidence and trust in customers.
Last year, CaratLane raised $6 million from Tiger Global.