The founder of an online jewellery marketplace says the millennial generation has finally enabled her to run a sustainable business.
Sukhi Jutla’s previous business Mangorena, which supplied gold jewellery from wholesalers to small retailers, turned over £25 million revenue in less than three years but profit margins were only one per cent as all operations were carried out offline.
However as shop owners passed on responsibility for their businesses to their children, she found the new “millennial” owners were more open to going wholly digital – and responded by founding tech start-up MarketOrders.
“Mangorena was supplying gold jewellery from suppliers to small retailers but in the traditional offline manner. We were unable to scale or generate sufficient profits which were sustainable because of the inefficient way the operations were being run,” she told BusinessCloud.
“We were doing everything offline. I was driving to shops in Scotland, taking the orders in person, writing it on a notepad, then flying out to Singapore that afternoon to buy the products.
“Then I was shipping them back and going back to my car to drive back to Scotland and give the retailer the product they ordered two weeks ago – the customer will say they don’t want it anymore as it is old.
“This is how MarketOrders was created. It’s the fully online version of the previous company or, as I like to say, MarketOrders is the phoenix that arose from the ashes of Mangorena.”
Jutla and co-founder Ram Krishnna Rao set up MarketOrders in 2016, creating an online site for jewellery retailers to order stock for their independent high-street stores.
She says she had previously struggled to get jewellery businesses ahead of the game as the industry has been slow to adapt to modern technology.
“Most of our customers, five or six years ago, would be the original owners of the shop, and when I was asking them to make online payments and order online, they didn’t want to know,” she said.
“All of these shops have now transferred ownership to their children, and they are millennials.
“When I ask them about digital, they absolutely love it because they understand products like Deliveroo and Netflix, so they want to order stock online.
“They have young families and don’t want to leave their children at home with their mother for two weeks while they go to Singapore to buy stock, they don’t want to leave their shops unattended because sometimes you have staff stealing products and can’t account for it.”
MarketOrders now takes care of all aspects of the ordering process, and allows shop owners to order singular items of jewellery, whereas independent wholesalers would usually require a minimum batch of each item.
Jutla said they would also look to take up to 40 per cent commission for their service, whereas MarketOrders takes 10 per cent. They can then collate the orders and gain a discount from suppliers worldwide.
“[Millennials] understand the importance of going online and being able to interact with customers online,” she said.
“They know every time someone comes into the shop, they have already tried to find something online for the same price and they need to be able to understand what their customers want and be able to give them an experience that they can’t get online.
“I give the example of Airbnb – people don’t use Airbnb because they want somewhere to stay, they use it because they’re able to book a crazy Scottish castle in the middle of nowhere; it’s the experience they’re after.”
She said the business does not supply to large jewellers such as H.Samuel as the company wants to give discounts to the independent businesses.
“We champion the small independents, helping them to keep their businesses because their business is actually a legacy.
“They say ‘I’m using you because I know I can be more competitive which means I’ve got a greater chance of this shop being passed on to my children’.”
The company is currently crowdfunding for £400,000 to improve their digital experience and fund staffing costs in a bid for ‘exponential growth’.
They also have plans to implement blockchain into the business as Jutla believes it will speed up payments and cut costs in international charges.
Its office is based in Brentford, West London with a team of 12, which has grown from four in the last nine months.