HONG KONG — Four-year-old jeweler Plukka is preparing a public offering on Dec. 4 on the Australian Stock Exchange, raising funds for its omnichannel expansion.
Plukka will be the first luxury firm to go public on the ASX, founder and chief executive officer Joanne Ooi said at the brand’s Hong Kong Landmark store.
The listing, offering up a third of the company, will be “the only chance to invest in a global luxury brand in that stock market,” she said, and for the digital-first concept bestows a kind of legitimacy it would take years otherwise to establish.
The money raised will be funneled into marketing and expanding its physical retail presence, which consists of two boutiques, in Hong Kong and New York. The company has just signed a space in London’s Burlington Arcade. Five brick-and-mortar boutiques are planned before the end of 2017.
Plukka’s business model rests on fine jewelry made-to-order e-commerce, which has already made the industry sit up and take notice. Pieces are made only when the demand is there, so it eases the burden on the designers who, because of inventory constraints, otherwise would be limited to being carried at perhaps a single department store. Customers, meanwhile, are able to access niche designers from around the globe and have the option of customizing their purchase.
“I would say Plukka is providing for the first time in the fragmented, disorganized, inefficient and localized jewelry industry, the first marketing and distribution solution which is truly global,” Ooi claimed.
The prices of the designs range from $190 to up to $150,000. The designers — mainly small and up-and-comers like Tana Chung, Madhuri Parson and Baer Jewels, to name just a few — vary in their aesthetic, from sculptural to the surrealist.
Plukka’s selection and the fact that 95 percent of the designs are available only on the platform are part of its mission to be “the premiere discovery machine for the world’s most creative jewelry.”
Department stores are the company’s main competitor, Ooi said, but added that “they are selling 500 things alongside jewelry…and you need focus to be number one.”
Rounding out the omnichannel experience is Plukka’s new “viewing on demand” service in which customers can arrange to see the jewelry in person. It launched quietly last week in Hong Kong, with plans to roll it out in New York in the coming weeks. Customers get 45 minutes per appointment at either their home or office and can view up to $15,000 worth of merchandise.
“It’s really focused on the male professional stuck in his office [buying gifts for his wife or girlfriend]. That’s who my target customer is around Christmas especially,” Ooi said.
It also helps manage another problem: Customers of fine jewelry usually like to touch and feel the products before forking over significant sums.
Plukka’s average online transaction amount hovers at about $2,000.
Online jewelry sales are only 4 to 5 percent of the market today, according to a McKinsey report. But its survey of industry executives found that this number — at least for fine jewelry — will reach 10 percent by 2020 and then more or less plateau there.
“Most consumers prefer to buy expensive items from brick-and-mortar stores, which are perceived as more reliable and which provide the opportunity to touch and feel the merchandise — a crucial factor in a high-involvement category driven by sensory experience,” the report said.
Plukka thinks it’s found a way with viewing on demand. Ooi said fine jewelry is one of the most inefficient retail sectors, with low traffic and low conversion from store walk-ins, making it all the more ripe for disruption.
“There are not many categories that would apply to either,” she said. “It’s revolutionary in terms of savings and economics for the jewelry industry. That is very important.”