The India International Trade Fair (IITF), which attracts thousands of participants from all across the world and millions of visitors every year, has caught the fancy of e-commerce startups. As the visitors to this year’s IITF feast their eyes on rare artifacts and products from all across the world, e-commerce start-up players are seen busy scouting for artisans and vendors at the venue. Also Read - E-commerce rules draft dos and dont’s: No more flash sales on phones, other goods and moreAlso Read - Facebook will now make money from WhatsApp's in-app purchases
“The mega events like the IITF bring artisans from all over the country at one place. This provides startups like ours an opportunity to build business contacts with prospective suppliers and to assess the quality of their products,” Rishabh Jain, co-founder, TheFamousKart.com, told IANS. Also Read - Flipkart to acquire Rs 1,500 crore worth stake in Aditya Birla Group's Fashion retail
Jain, whose startup venture TheFamousKart.com will go online within the end of this month, cited expenditure as a major reason for companies like his to scout for artisans at events like IITF. “IITF makes scouting for these artisans very easy and affordable. The cost of a business day’s ticket and added manpower to collect and tabulate contact details are nothing in comparison to the actual travel to the hinterland where these artisans and vendors are generally based.”
For another enterprise, Grameen based out of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, IITF has given it access to a mega variety of handicrafts, artifacts and products from all across the country. “We have been focusing on expanding the product variety on our online space. Events like IITF have given us the venue to meet and connect with prospective associates to expand our product categories,” Ranjith K.S., technical director at Graameen.in, told IANS over the phone from Thiruvananthapuram.
Grameen is a start-up venture, which aims to create an online platform for Indian village products. For artisans, the experience of associating with e-commerce players has ignited equal interest.
“Earlier, vendors were generally middlemen, who were selling our products directly to the customers by adding substantial profit margins. These e-commerce players are like online markets themselves, where we can directly sell products on our terms and conditions,” Bhogendra Paswan, an artist from Ranchi, told IANS. “Prices are decided by us and not by the middleman. This is a big change from earlier days.”
Paswan’s views were corroborated by Indrajit Verma, an artisan-cum-business owner, who pointed out that the interactions with e-commerce players gave an insight about the requirements of getting his products featured online.
“There are a number of things that we need to do first to get our products featured online. Some of them are basic, like creating a catalogue and fixing prices and delivery time,” Verma said. “The e-commerce players that we have met here have assured us of all the assistance in getting these basic requirements fulfilled.”
Nevertheless, getting these artisans based out of rural parts on the Digital India platforms like e-commerce portals would not be that easy, explained Jain. “Most of these artisans have no idea about e-commerce, payment clearance period and logistics involved in transportation of their products. It will take us some time and effort to bring them up to speed on the basic requirements for getting associated with e-commerce platforms,” Jain elaborated.
However, ironing out the initial difficulties in operations, and tailoring the needs according to artisans and startups, can yield substantial returns, predicted Rohit Bhatiani, director, Deloitte in India.
“Both, the startup and artisans can work together to realize the shared goals of providing the most varied variety of products and best prices online,” Bhatiani told IANS. “The startups need to educate the artisans on the pre-requisite of going online and doing business with them. In the same way a strong vendor and partner for e-commerce players is always a sought after entity.”
Rohit Vaid writes for IANS