A homegrown jewellery brand, Exquisites Jewels employs technology to take the company to greater heights.
Exquisites Jewels was established in 2015 by Pauline Ong as a way to share her love for jewellery and a driven passion to contribute back to society. Guided by their brand values of Joy, Beauty and Elegance, their jewellery collections have evolved from jade to semi-precious stones and finally to pearls. The business sells genuine pearls at a fraction of the market prices and offers personalisation through customisation.
Having survived cancer twice has changed the founder’s perspective in life, which has strongly motivated her to care for the disadvantaged. To date Exquisites Jewels has worked closely with various charitable organisations and donated a portion of the company’s profits to charity.
The business has since expanded from a purely online retailer to having two boutiques at Great World and Westgate under the brand name Exquisites. Each boutique is creatively renovated to represent nature- the sea, the sand, the coral reefs and the pearls. The retail concept revolves around an experiential service with the opening of an oyster with pearls for purchase of $100 and above and customisation of pearl jewellery in just five minutes.
As the business grew over the years, it faced several challenges, especially for its older team members. For instance, staff members had to manually track and collate daily sales figures, which are sent to the director via WhatsApp at the end of the week. The older workers found this challenging as they were not used to messaging on WhatsApp, and manual calculation was often slow.
Additionally, stock counts are done manually and is often subjected to human error. The manual counting disincentivised older workers from working resulting in a shortage of manpower. A lack of automated processes also reduced the quality of customer service. Member’s purchases are recorded and stored manually at each boutique. If a member visited a separate branch, the staff had to call the other boutique to retrieve the member’s information. This method resulted in longer waiting times for the customer and reduced the quality of customer service.
Exquisites Jewels worked with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to identify and implement automated systems under the WorkPro Job Redesign scheme to improve its operational capabilities. The company integrated a Point-Of-Sale (POS) system with an Inventory Management System (IMS) across all outlets. Staff members could now scan product barcodes during stock takes and for customer transactions. This system allowed inventory to be tracked in real-time, significantly reducing stock checking time, frequency from several times a week to once a week. Staff members cross-reference the system count with an iPad to verify inventory levels. Furthermore, older workers no longer have to read the small serial numbers on each item that strained their eyes for manual recording. The system also enabled member data to be stored in a central database. Staff members can easily retrieve customer information by searching for their name or mobile number on an iPad.
These upgrades resulted in reduced transaction timing for the customer, lesser time spent on employee training, and increased customer experience. The upgraded sales & inventory process flow increased productivity by 90%, reducing the time taken to process each transaction from 10 minutes to 1 minute. Exquisites Jewels could also cut down on staffing across all boutiques, reducing the manpower requirement by one person for each store. The increase in productivity was shared with an older worker aged 60 and above through a pay increment of $700.
The company quickly adapted during the COVID-19 lockdowns by leveraging its strength as an online-first company and in the cohesiveness of the team. Facebook live-streaming was initiated to keep the company relevant while other team members worked on further strengthening the operational processes by developing product handbooks and operational manuals. When restrictions were lifted, staff members were trained on all safety measures to ensure customer and employee safety. Sticking to its founder’s charitable ethos, Exquisites Jewels‘ mission is to establish an eatery to provide nutritious and free food for the less fortunate in the future.