The multi-platform Plukka is embodying the new jewelry model in terms of retail. In the second series of Q&A, Joanne Ooi explains the business model
Olivier Dupon, journalist and author of several jewelry books successfully managed an exclusive interview of Joanne Ooi, founder of the platform PLUKKA. This is the second of a series of four Q&A inside the genius brain of the Plukka founder.
OD – When did you exactly know you wanted to do Plukka?
JO – I entered into a partnership with Jai Waney (Arts Club Owner), who had been very aware of my career in branding and marketing, especially during the Shanghai Tang phase, and thought it would be phenomenal to do a business together. That is what led to Plukka.
That said the choice of fine jewellery as the core concept for the business came when I met my international business development director, Elle Hill, who was working in the jewellery industry, at a charity dinner. I wouldn’t necessarily say that that was an epiphany but I invited her to come in and just chat. At that same period Jai, my original seed partner, and I were busy mulling different industries in which to establish disruptive business models with manufacturing as its foundation, and so we ended up asking Elle to brainstorm with us about how our idea could pan out. We had this business model of “reversed option flash sale” in mind, where we would manufacture a product-to-order based on the sum total of all the consumers’ orders taken for a single product during a three-day flash sale. So Elle explained how we could transpose that business idea to the fine jewellery category by benchmarking our idea with some existing business models. At that moment, Jai and I literally looked at each other and said “Eureka! There is clearly something incredibly wrong, inefficient, disorganised and messed up about this fine jewellery industry. We should seriously consider entering it!” That was probably the most pivotal moment of our business and why we decided to go into fine jewellery.
OD – What is Plukka’s philosophy?
JO – It is easily encapsulated by our official catchphrase, which is “the premiere discovery machine for the world’s most creative fine jewellery”. That basically sums it up and in terms of attributes to describe our jewellery, they would be: creativity, originality and exclusivity. Besides on a personal level, I want you to know that I choose every single product and designer; it is all about choosing the person I hope is a leading exponent of their particular style or aesthetic or in the best case, the inventor of that genre of jewellery.
OD – Is Plukka paving the way for future retail?
JO – Absolutely! We are definitely in the jewellery industry because I compare us to a mono brand, because mono brands are distinguished by their niche aesthetic. Let’s just take the example of Paspaley, the pearl brand, or Steven Webster, the rock n’ roll British designer. If you go to a new market for your brand in cities like Hong Kong or New York, and you want to make a name for yourself as a mono brand, you usually need to hang out your money on an expensive stand-alone boutique on the street in a place like Madison avenue or one in Hong Kong’s very expensive shopping malls. In which case, the operating costs are very challenging to defray by selling only one type of product because if you really think about it, your fortune really depends on the vicissitude of fashion or simply your inability to create a deep and loyal enough following which can defray the cost of operating a boutique permanently in a global city like those too.
So if you ponder about the fact that we have a multi-brand retail format, which is able to shuffle and re-assort the products on an on-going basis, because of our no inventory model, and therefore to suit the psychographic needs of each geographical market: obviously our model is going to be a lot more flexible, adaptable and nimble than traditional fine jewellery mono brand retailers.
Then on the supply side, you have to consider that the jewellery industry is very fragmented, localised, inefficient and disorganised, and that the vast majority of the industry – which is not the 12% dominated by the big brands – actually seeks an efficient distribution platform such as ours, so that they don’t have to go and negotiate individual retail deals with different stores in each territory.
With us, they are able to give one pool of physical assets (their jewellery) to a single partner (us), who can then push it out to all-important geographic markets with best of class marketing quality.
And that is what we present to the industry on the supply side ! So when you ask “are we the future of retail?” We absolutely are : both on the demand and on the supply sides !