A call to the customer care number of an e-tailer fetched a message to join the BJP
KOLKATA: A football fan in Kolkata didn’t want to disturb his family while watching late-night World Cup matches. So he ordered two sets of headphones from Flipkart.
When the package arrived, there were no headphones, only a bottle of oil.
The furious customer called the number printed on the package to complain.
The call went through and disconnected after one ring. He was about to hit redial when he got a message that began with “welcome to BJP” and gave him a “primary membership number”, urging him to go through the next step to complete the process.
The football fan claimed to have got this message on dialling the number
He didn’t join the dots immediately and called the 1800 number again with the same results.
He also shared the number with friends, who received the same message.
It soon dawned on them that 1800 266 1001 was a BJP number, one you could apparently call to sign up. The first customer then found the correct helpline number and complained.
This morning, the football fan also received a call from the online shopping portal.
The Bengal BJP has denied any connection to the Flipkart package. “The BJP number is on the website, on Facebook. Anyone can share it. You can also share it. That’s not our responsibility,” said Dilip Ghosh, the state BJP chief.
This morning, the football fan also received a call from the online shopping portal. “Please use the oil sent to you accidentally. Or throw it away. We are sending you the headphones. Sadly, we have only one pair at the moment. We can only give that one. We will refund your money for the other set,” the customer was told.
Flipkart said in a statement that it had given up the number three years ago. The number was printed on tape used for packing — and some of that packing tape was apparently still out there, the company said.
“The phone company must have just re-allotted the number, as is done when a number has been surrendered and there is no activity for six months,” said the portal.
The football fan has kept the bottle of oil in the locker in his cupboard. For now, he is watching football with his TV on mute.
Guest column by The Diamond Store chief executive officer, Gary Ingram
The job of online jewellery retailers has never been so tough. The cost of acquiring customers and in particular Google clicks have soared. Brexit looms. Modern customer expectations and the social media landscape are forcing us to do more with less.
To combat the pressure, here are seven critical habits that I feel will help British jewellery e-tailers build stronger brands and bottom lines heading towards 2019, which we apply to TheDiamondStore.co.uk.
Digital trends, Google algorithms, smartphone touch payment technology; the tools that drive online sales are in a constant state of flux. As frustrating as it is sometimes, we must constantly be prepared to trash yesterday’s plans and start again. Embracing change is the only way forward in the fast-moving world of ecommerce.
React to trends as they happen
Celebrities dictate trends – as we’ve seen with Meghan Markle. But if we want to sell products off the back of trends, we need to react to them in real time. Tomorrow is too late. During the week of the Royal wedding, traffic to our online magazine’s Royal Family articles spiked from 12,000 weekly organic visits to 35,000. This provided an incredible vehicle for sales, but we were only able to benefit from it because we had exciting, interactive web and social content poised to go live as the event unfolded.
Granular… this marketing buzzword has been thrown around so much, some have come to loathe it. Yet it is exactly what brings an online environment closer to a “real store experience”. Granularity refers to crunching marketing data down to the finest level of detail. For instance, we know that our biggest social media sales converters are females, 25-35 of age. We also know fairly accurately who, and for what occasions, they buy jewellery gifts for. This amount of detail allows us to create targeted campaigns that offer genuine value to our customer niches.
Overlap customer services and social media
Today’s online shoppers expect to communicate with retailers instantly, via multiple channels. We offer Live Chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, social media feeds, and of course, email and telephone. This means our Customer Service and Social Media teams need to work closely together to catch every customer comment and question. The focus is on gaining trust; when our teams align their efforts it makes our customers feel reassured.
Find practical ways to refresh product lines
Baby boomers and generation X are still shopping for classic heirloom jewellery, while millennials look for pieces with a shorter trend-based lifespan. This makes curation of product lines incredibly tricky. But often simply updating best-performing collections by introducing variations in precious metal type, gems or design details, keeps things exciting for loyal customers, while attracting potential new shoppers.
Expose your brand to unbiased feedback
The Competition and Market Authority (CAM) estimates that around £23 billion per year spent by UK consumers is potentially influenced by online reviews. We have been subscribing to the Feefo.com independent review platform since 2011 because it not only allows us to get honest feedback, but also respond to it. Again, in an online environment where we don’t meet our customers face to face, this is another route to personal interaction and trust building (as well as overall improvement).
Sales are what keep businesses going. But modern consumers don’t like to feel that they’re being sold to. Tweaking your message from “selling” to “being of service” adds value and creates a shopping experience so good your customer want to repeat it. To add value, do your research and give customers what they want; speak their language, provide attractive packaging, offer trustworthy advice, useful content and fast free shipping. Arguably, the overall message of value that brands provide can sometimes be even more important that the products they sell.
Online jewellery shopping has been slowly growing in India over the last few years. Companies like BlueStone are becoming more recognisable names, while Caratlane, another early pioneer, was acquired last year by Titan’s jewellery arm Tanishq. And while these specialist companies have been growing, Amazon and Flipkart, the bigwigs of the Indian e-commerce space, both have jewellery sections as well.
But is the market now developed enough to support specialist plays such as CharmsDay, a company that specialises in making silver charm bracelets? Started about a year ago by Parul Nagpal, who used to be the VP-Marketing at BlueStone, CharmsDay is focussing on a small niche within the larger jewellery space, and it’s been operational actively for just a little over a month now.
Gadgets 360 chatted with Nagpal to understand more about the state of online jewellery in India, why smaller cities represent a better opportunity than the big metros, and what new technologies are coming up in the jewellery industry.
“We got started around this time last year, but we launched the website about a month ago,” says Nagpal. “It’s backed by Liali, a Dubai-based jewellery company. They wanted to enter the Indian market and we were doing ideation on what product to come out with, and we traveled around the world to figure out what India is missing.”
Amazon.com Inc.’s dominance in online retail is clear to see: The so-called Everything Store captures 49 percent of retail e-commerce sales in the U.S., thanks in large part to its 95 million-strong army of Prime customers, who in July contributed to an estimated $4 billion spent globally in just 36 hours during a promotional binge that Jeff Bezos created out of thin air. For comparison, that’s more than Church & Dwight, maker of Arm & Hammer baking soda and Trojan condoms, generates in a year.So Amazon’s the biggest shopping site in the U.S. But is it the best? And how does one measure that, anyway? A common way is to look at how much of a retailer’s total revenue comes from its online division. By that metric–simply, who does the biggest share of their business online–Amazon is worlds ahead of most rivals.
That doesn’t tell us very much, though. For one thing, that metric is declining at Amazon as the company evolves: It now owns the Whole Foods Market grocery chain and also gets almost 12 percent of net sales from its successful cloud business. At Walmart, meanwhile, the online unit is expected to grow 40 percent this year, but it will never be as big of a slice of the pie given that the company operates more than 11,000 brick-and-mortar stores around the globe that deliver about a half-trillion dollars in sales.
Discussions about online sales usually devolve into comparing deals. But it’s not just about who has the lowest prices–most sites these days employ algorithms that can quickly match competitors’ price tags, so they’re changing constantly. (During Prime Day, Amazon took 40 percent off the Instant Pot cooker, a foodie favorite, prompting Walmart and Costco to follow suit.) Executives at Walmart, the king of everyday low prices, now talk less about prices and more about “reducing friction” for online shoppers–or making the shopping experience faster and easier. And while product assortment is important, it’s more than who carries the most stuff. Consumers can get lost in a sea of online listings in much the same way they get confused when they’re staring at 52 different brands of toothpaste in a physical store.
There are other ways to measure online sales success, like downloads of a retailer’s shopping app. Of course, just having an app on your phone doesn’t mean you’re shopping regularly–how many unloved apps sit gathering digital dust on your smartphone? Even metrics like the time spent on a site can be misleading: While advertisers love it if you linger, a retailer generally wants to get you to the checkout page as fast as possible, or else that could be a sign that navigation isn’t working so well.
In truth, what matters most to web retailers are three things: Traffic, engagement and conversion. In other words, how many people visit your online storefront, how interested they are in what they see and how many of them click the all-important “buy” button. Let’s start with traffic, measured by site visits.
No surprise here: Amazon gets more visits in a typical month than EBay, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s and Costco combined. One reason is Amazon’s strong referral business, whereby other websites, dubbed affiliates, send traffic to Amazon and collect a fee. Around 6 percent of Amazon’s traffic in any given month comes from those referrals, according to researcher SimilarWeb, double that of Walmart and Target.
“For Amazon, referral traffic is huge,’’ said Ethan Chernofsky, director of corporate marketing at SimilarWeb. “Nobody else has that affiliate strength.”
But traffic doesn’t tell the whole story. It can increase without delivering any perceptible boost in sales, and a sudden spike in traffic can cause site glitches that prompt shoppers to go elsewhere: witness Amazon’s Prime Day trouble, where some early searches for goods prompted an error page featuring dog photos. Shoppers who leave a site after viewing just one page are said to have “bounced” in web parlance, and that’s not a good thing either. It’s the online equivalent of a customer who walks in a store, takes one look around, and walks right out.
EBay and Costco both have lower bounce rates than Amazon, a sign that the visitors coming to their sites truly want to be there. For Walmart, meanwhile, having half its visitors leave after viewing one page says its shoppers aren’t nearly as engaged. That might explain why the company unveiled a website redesign in May, with new colors, fonts and lifestyle-focused imagery–for example, pictures of cute babies in a kitchen rather than a boring photo of a stroller.
Those baby pictures are just one of many ways e-commerce sites try to lure millennials, who devote a greater share of their spending to the web than any other age group, according to UBS. Ebay, for one, is launching personalized shopping pages and boosting its marketing spending to freshen its image as an online rummage sale. Walmart and Costco’s web visitors also skew older, which makes sense given their more mature shopper base. Still, even Walmart is trying to get younger, taking a page from Jet.com, the urban-focused startup it acquired in 2016.
Turns out the winner among millennials isn’t Amazon but Best Buy, where more than one in five shoppers are between 25 and 34. One reason is simply what it specializes in: gadgets. But the consumer-electronics retailer has also vastly improved its website in recent years with a better search function, more reviews and detailed product information. That’s helped the company more than double the proportion of its U.S. revenue that comes from online to 16 percent last year, up from 7 percent in 2012.
No matter their age, online shoppers are a fickle bunch. The Baymard Institute, an e-commerce researcher, has found that about seven out of 10 online shopping trips end with no purchase made. Shoppers abandon their virtual carts for a variety of reasons. Most often, it’s because shipping and other fees are too high. Others find the checkout process too complicated, don’t want to create an online account, or didn’t trust the site with their credit card information. All those factors can hurt a site’s conversion rate, which is the share of shoppers who actually buy something.
“You want shoppers to be engaged, but conversion is the ideal metric,” says Nathan Rigby, senior vice president of global sales at One Click Retail, which monitors e-commerce sales.
Amazon converts shoppers into buyers better than its main rivals, and it’s not even close. With simple one-click (or one-swipe) checkout and “Subscribe and Save” discounts for household goods purchased regularly, Amazon, for now, closes the deal better than anyone. And that, more than anything, makes it the king of e-commerce.
But with rivals starting to catch up, there’s no guarantee Amazon’s dominance will last. One Click Retail’s engineers are hard at work developing a new e-commerce yardstick, one that will combine traffic, conversion and revenue into one metric called “TeComm,” short for Total E-commerce. Once that rolls out, it will be easier to see who’s got the biggest leg up in digital sales. It should appear next year — perhaps just in time for Prime Day.
The phrase “New Mexican jewelry” tends to have specific connotations: turquoise and silver. While these are certainly essential features of the New Mexican jewelry tradition, they are hardly the only ones. As any New Mexico resident knows, our state is an amalgam of cultures and traditions, both indigenous and imported. The artistic productions that have emerged from that commingling of cultures are as diverse as the people who live here.
Hence the title of an exhibition that opened in June at the Albuquerque Museum: American Jewelry From New Mexico. The exhibition does not limit itself to showcasing “New Mexican jewelry” as that phrase connotes, but rather expands the conception of regional jewelry to include a much wider range of styles. The introductory wall text explains, “Rather than focus on a single culture group, individual, artist, time period, or medium, American Jewelry From New Mexico tells the stories of diverse heritages simultaneously, as artists live in concert, trade, and adaptation with their neighbors.” Tradition is honored here, as is creativity that pushes past the norms or creates new ones.
That creativity is evident initially in the exhibition in several ancient works, many of them Puebloan. These early works demonstrate artistry spanning materials and styles, from a Basketmaker necklace composed of gastropod shells (circa 400 BCE-100 CE) to a dragonfly pendant made of goethite, from Pueblo Alto at Chaco Canyon (1020-1150 CE). Though the exhibition follows a general chronological arrangement, accompanying wall texts focus not on the steps of history but on the evolution of innovation. In these early works, trade routes between tribes influenced the materials used in the crafting of adornments. When those routes were disrupted by Spanish colonization, new exchanges occurred, as did new jewelry practices.
Causal patterns of contact and creativity reached something of an artistic apex in the 19th century, when there was a fusion of Hispanic silversmithing traditions with Native jewelry making. For the Diné, the results were structural pieces — among them cuffs, rings, and manta pins — of silver and turquoise, the silver often stamped. Zuni jewelers, the wall text notes, frequently used the metal principally as a setting, a foundation for presenting colorful stones. The representative works on display include a bolo tie, by Leo Poblano, of an eagle dancer mid-step, arms raised, with jet stone, mother-of-pearl, and coral composing his ceremonial attire (circa 1940s). Both the Diné and the Zuni used silver in their creation of squash blossom necklaces, typically with a central naja crescent and blossom ornaments along the chain.
If these works are quintessential New Mexican jewelry, their presentation here makes clear that, while they fit within that categorization, they assert individual ingenuity. In one case of squash blossom necklaces, we see a consistency of overall shape but wide variations in sizes, stones, and component symbols. Nearby cases have silver-based concha belts, from the 1870s to the 2010s, of Zia birds, butterflies, and even mouse traps, with a mouse-head buckle (Squeak by Bob Haozous, Warm Springs Chiricahua, circa 2003).
In the last few decades, regional jewelry making has seen a surge of experimentation, and it is in the final sections of the exhibition that things get delightfully weird. Santa Fean Lawrence Baca’s Knife, Fork & Spoon Necklace (2001) has a chain featuring ovals stamped with eating utensils, culminating in a central cross made of a vertical knife and a horizontal half-spoon, half-fork: the trinity of consumption. Diné artist Clarence Lee adorned a silver bracelet with a pickup truck following and being trailed by dogs; a turquoise stone represents water in the barrel the truck is carrying (circa 1997). In Where’s Oz? (2018), Albuquerque artist Goldie Garcia embellishes a glittery necklace and earrings with poppy-like fabric flowers, whose centers are bottle caps featuring characters from The Wizard of Oz.
The modern pieces, like those earliest in the exhibition, are materially innovative, from Debra Baxter’s brass knuckles crowned with aqua aura quartz (2017) to Kristin Diener’s New Orleans and Alabama/Mississippi Gulf Coast Love Story: Loss and Lament: Fertility Reliquary II (2005), a reliquary that sits upon a mannequin as though it were a chastity belt. The piece’s 23 materials include toy scissors, a Route 66 guitar pick, a candy wrapper, and vintage nude photographs. (Baxter and Diener live in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, respectively; both are from the Midwest.)
Amid the progressive definitions of jewelry in the exhibition’s modern section, there is also tremendous craftsmanship and sheer beauty in many of the works, emphasizing jewelry’s fundamental aesthetic role. (Wall texts also discuss its commercial role: the jeweler as, often unavoidably, businessperson and brand.) Works by designers and jewelers such as Rémy Rotenier, Lonnie Schroder, Paula Crevoshay, and Keri Ataumbi exhibit intricate detailing with elegant gemwork. Even as the exhibition encourages deeper consideration of materiality, creativity, and the very concept of what it means to be a New Mexican artist, those thoughts might get put on hold at the sight of another shining jewel.