By Bernardette Sto. Domingo •
21 May 2020
Bi Lijun, vice president and secretary general of GAC
Buying jewellery online is poised to become a bigger trend in China in 2020 as the country’s economy gradually recovers from the months-long onslaught of Covid-19, the Gems and Jewellery Trade Association of China (GAC) revealed.
With a decline in consumer incomes, low- to mid-priced jewellery pieces are expected to rise in popularity and further boost online sales, Bi Lijun, vice president and secretary general of GAC, told JNA.
Citing government data, he said total retail sales in China dipped by 21 per cent in January and February but online transactions were up 3 per cent year on year, accounting for 22 per cent of overall retail sales. The jewellery industry suffered immensely during the coronavirus pandemic since the sector relies heavily on physical store sales. Amid shelter-in-place measures, consumers started exploring online shopping more.
To further take advantage of this trend, jewellery retailers should develop new models including livestream commerce and harnessing social media for retail. Companies should also build consumer databases and improve supply chains, product designs and inventory management.
The rise of livestream
Jewellery industry players are also stepping up their digital initiatives amid event postponements and cancellations, and lacklustre jewellery sales, according to Lijun.
“Although growth in the jewellery market is hindered, opportunities still exist,” he noted. “Some jewellery companies started promoting their products through livestreaming during the quarantine, accelerating a positive transformation in the industry.”
With the use of livestreaming and e-shopping platforms, small and medium-sized online jewellery shops saw an uptick in sales. The most sought-after products online were crystal, pearl, amber and jade.
GAC also worked with Channel Wu, a popular online platform in China that provides financial information, to establish a digital educational platform for the jewellery industry. As of April, GAC has launched 24 courses on the channel, which attracted more than 16 million users.
The association, in collaboration with other groups, also set up “The Sky Stone Plan” to promote remote Internet-based intelligent services to help small and medium-sized enterprises resume production.
GAC is also maximising the use of social media applications such as WeChat, Toutiao and Red Book to provide industry updates.
According to Lijun, livestream lectures are making waves in China as users find them enjoyable and engaging.
“This will be the new trend for the industry after Covid-19,” he commented. “Apart from the online jewellery platform, we also launched a series of livestreams and courses to help jewellers make the most of e-commerce.”
Online exhibitions, conferences and trading platforms are also expected to spring up as a result of pandmic-induced business restrictions, shared Lijun.
Cross-border e-commerce is likewise seen to develop rapidly. According to the GAC official, data from online retail giant Alibaba showed that the number of jewellery buyers on its sales channels maintained a steady and rapid growth from December 2017 to November 2019, with more consumers switching to online shopping, spurring platform shifts from B2B to B2C.