WITH AYTAC KAMAR (PIANO JEWELLERY), ABOUT COVID-19
How do you evaluate this period we live with Covid-19?
We have been in quarantine for almost 48 days since 15th of March! I think that this will last until the last week of May. When we look as a whole, work and social life have stopped for more than two months. This is an interesting situation that we have not seen and experienced before! During this period, we always follow the news on television and social media. In some places, people die in hospitals, nursing homes, and we watch it like watching a science-fiction movie!
It is claimed to be a new world order. It is also claimed to be the revenge of nature. We read, listen to conspiracy theories. We are in the longest period that we spend time with ourselves and our family. It is not easy to isolate the people from social life for this period but we experience and see it. I can’t say that I have engaged in different activities these days personally. I didn’t clean my wardrobe or make bread… I tried to read books. I like to do gardening and it is time, so I spend a lot of time in the garden.
Production and international logistics stopped. How do you spend your time under these conditions?
We closed all the production and shops. We switched off the income. We continue our work on the online sales channel on which we have intensely worked for the last 8 months. We work on how to use social media and digital media in a better way. We stream live concerts. We will continue. We follow the works of Word companies and brands in this situation.
There are online trainings, zoom meetings which are increasing trends in recent days. I have participated in some of them to hear the opinions on the post-pandemic situation. There is a huge uncertainty so it is very hard to make a plan program or strategy. We hear the sentence “Nothing will be the same after pandemic” but, I’m not so sure… I examine the big break-through events in the past. I realized that I read many articles on history and future. Even, I started to watch many science-fiction movies that I do not like.
Have you undertaken any initiatives to reduce the impact of this situation caused by COVID-19?
We have not taken any action to reduce the impact of the situation yet. Now, the actual problem is health, but it will be followed by strong economical problems. Even though nothing will be the same, it is for sure that we will have a new normal, but it is necessary to see how it will be. Indeed there are some presumptions, but life is not mathematical in general.
Social distancing is a very important item on the agenda. Everything will be designed and adjusted accordingly. Rare sitting areas in the buses, new and rare sitting order in the planes, rare table order in the cafes and restaurants mean that these services will be expensive. How is it possible to apply social distancing in beauty parlors, barbershops SPA centers, gyms, hammam, tourism, hotels, buffet stations, district bazaars, and shops? Businesses will be requested to obtain health and hygiene certificates. People will prefer places with a certificate. You will be requested a health certificate for flights. In brief, life will be more difficult. Despite all the uncertainties, we work for the post-pandemic period. We discuss what else we can do for retailing. We work hard to be the best online sales and service company on digital media soon. We are one of the reputable facilities having different processes in production. Everybody should not try to do everything. We want to produce the best according to the demand. We have a B2B catalog work for our customers to place orders in line with the spirit of the day, but we couldn’t enable our customers to use it. They ask for the bag seller! We chose 5 countries for export, we want to focus on them.
What estimates do you have about the jewelry industry after CV-19?
As we always state the jewelry industry is the most damaged sector in crises and will be the last one to be remedied when the situation goes better. In the past, when there was a problem in a country, you could sell to another country or focus on the internal market and try to overcome the problem. We have experienced this situation for the first time! This is very different and the result will be different. It seems that the only action taken during this period is the online seminar and training programs held by Exporters’ Association. Except for this, I didn’t see any action taken by the chambers or
Kuyumcukent. I know the mentality of our industry. During this period, we discussed with a few friends about what to do. We had some feedbacks from Anatolian artisans. The industry is just curious about what to happen after the pandemic, but there is not any work or action! On the day when it is allowed to open the shops, the artisans will start to work. Chambers are the institution of the artisans and shops, on the other hand, Exporters’ Association is the institution of the export companies, brokers, wholesalers. The rest are producers, workshop workers who do not have any institution.
Workshops are production facilities having 3-100 employees and they do not work for two months and do not have any income! Wholesalers and exporters will wait to go back to normal when they start to work. As the first order and collection will take 3 weeks, the manufacturers will have 3 months without working. There are not many manufacturers who can compensate for this situation. As a result, manufacturers will incur the first and biggest damage. Most of them will be closed and no one will know about it. In this process, there is not any mechanism for protecting them. Managements of Kuyaş and Kuyumcukent are responsible for much. In this time, we need managements, but Kuyumcukent has sent messages twice urging us to deposit our subscription fees and not to become due!!
During this period, the most widely used sentences in this market include “what can’t be cured must be endured” “there is nothing to do”, “let’s hope for better” etc. This means “life goes on”. With this point of view and vision, this industry cannot go ahead. We have a big opportunity for destructive innovation in the jewelry industry and if we miss it, we will have a difficult time.
How can this moment be transformed into an opportunity?
I don’t know why, when you say opportunity, I thought about opportunism. In this period, be aware of what wholesalers and exporters expect from manufacturers!!! As we always say, the future is digital. Industry 4.0 is coming. This period made it obvious but our industry doesn’t think that this period will affect us however the future is still coming. Half of the shops will be closed within 10 years. Online sales will become prominent. Presentation and service methods will change. Today, it seems that there are thousands of online sales web sites, but 90% of them will be eliminated.
Companies investing in the future and catching the spirit of the time will be successful.
If our manufacturers and exporters produce standard quality products even with added value, they can continue to sell products to online chains abroad. If Turkey wants to make money in this industry, it has to learn marketing. No matter if you are producing the best product in the world, if you cannot market it, you cannot make money!