[Guest] Ecommerce paving way for cross-border trade of Indian handicrafts

The Indian handicrafts & Ethnic lifestyle sector is a home-based industry that uses existing skills and locally available materials requiring minimum expenditure, infrastructure or training to set up. The rich history of India’s ethnic tradition has evolved over the centuries offering a legacy of Indian culture promising everything – beauty, dignity, form and style.

The variety is comprehensive and ranges from age-old stone carvings to modern handicrafts making use of glass flints and mirrors. The most popular crafts include metalware, earthenware, pottery, sculpting, woodwork, hand-printed textiles and scarves, embroidered and crocheted goods, shawls, zari products, stone carving and imitation jewellery.

Current Status

The artisan is an important factor in the equation of Indian society and culture. However, as per the available data, the market for Indian handmade & designer lifestyle products is the largest decentralized and unorganized sector of the Indian economy, with over 23 million designers & craftsmen working in this segment.

Local artists, craftsmen & designers form the second largest employment sector in India, second only to agriculture. They often work in small units to meet the ever-growing demand for products such as sarees, fashion jewelelry, ethnic wear, handicrafts, etc.

Artisanal contribution to the economy and the export market is increasing every year and more and more new crafts-people are being introduced into the sector – especially women – as a solution to rural and urban unemployment.

Growth in market size

In spite of the fragmented nature of the supply chain, the demand for Indian handmade & designer products is huge. The annual demand for Sarees alone is over INR 50,000 Crore and with increasing popularity of Sarees amongst bollywood celebrities, the market for Sarees is expected to grow over 15% in next 5 years. The overall market for Ethnic wear, handicrafts & imitation jewellery in India is currently estimated at around INR 110,000Cr and is likely to grow to around INR 210,000Cr by 2018.

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Popular products in international market

The Indian handicraft & designer sector also sees a great potential in the international market. Silk, embroidery, and bead work on fabrics and leather seem to be particular areas of interest. Sarees, contemporary and ethnic jewellery, jhumkas, bangles, dress materials, suits, apparels, ethnic wear, lehengacholis, handbags, clutches, bedding, furnishings, lamps and lanterns, vases, home décor products, kitchen and dining products, decorative tables, Indian handicrafts etc. that the Indian local designers and artisans offer have a huge demand in the West.

Ecommerce reducing the hurdles

However, the traditional selling methods especially to international markets are very expensive and prohibitive for small businesses. In such a scenario, the rise of e-commerce has played a significant role in reducing costs on labour, international phone calls and travel as the information you need to build your customer base can be handled right from your desktop.

Today, the local designers and artisans have found an economical way to reach out to its international buyers.They are routing their sales via e-commerce which is giving them proper visibility and is also helping them to bring their collection from the local village in India to consumer friendly platforms like artisangilt, Craftsvilla and artncraftemporio etc. E-commerce sites that highlight the local production of products are on the rise. They’re indicative of a growing desire of consumers for authentic products with a known provenance.

About the authorRahul Garg is currently the CEO and Co-Founder at ArtisanGilt.com. The portal claims to offer around 30,000 Indian handmade & designer lifestyle products & delivery in 200+ countries. He was earlier associated with brands such as HSBC, Nomura, Lehman Brothers, etc.

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  • Ashwin Rao

    Ramvij Charity Fund is working for raising the quality of education of tribal children in South Gujarat.For school dropouts,we motivate them to take up Vocational Courses,with a guaranteed job.Provide better amenities to the children.

    If we can empower the parents-mainly their mothers, of the tribal children,to engage in their traditional handicrafts,or something which the market demands.Is there somebody,who would be interested in starting this for tribal women.Ashwin Rao – ashwinrao43@rediffmail.com