With a meager amount of Rs 1,000 in his pocket, Tausif Ansari travelled to Mumbai in 2006 from Munger in Bihar. The school dropout had plenty of financial worries back at home and came to Mumbai seekinga job. His relative who resided at Dharavi made him learn the art of stitching leather bags and jackets. For three years,Tausifstitched leather bags and jackets along with his relative in one of Asia’s largest slums. After his business woundup, however,Tausif went to Goa to find similar jobs. He came across a lot of foreign tourists who showed a liking towards his leather products. Tausif discovered that foreigners admire Indian products with great enthusiasm, and this is when he realized he needed a way to showcase what he was creating to a global audience.With his minimum savings,he bought a laptop. Tausif started to stitch leather jackets, click their pictures and putthem on two leading marketplaces. There was no looking back since then. Tausif expanded his business and started selling leather jackets through the marketplaces since 2012. The leather jacket seller now earnsannual revenue of around Rs 60-80 lakh.
Just like Tausif, several small and medium retailers and independent sellers from the remotest locations and small towns and cities haverealized the potential of e-commerce marketplaces and are increasingly looking to them to drive sales. Weavers, artisans, fashion designers and other innovative merchants are fast embracing the platform that can finally give them their due. Thanks to the wide opportunities offered by marketplaces, these sellers are able to gain financial stability and reap profits without relying on middlemen. These marketplaces are not only making them comfortable financially, but are also helping small retailers to spend less on marketing their work, while at the same time giving them the kind of reach that they probably never imagined. Moreover, many of the leading online marketplaces also offer training to smaller merchants to enable them to fully take advantage of the benefits of e-commerce. They also offer financial assistance in many cases through their tie-ups with several NBFCs so that artists and local talent can scale up their business to meet the rising demand that emerges from selling through online channels.
Those sellers who had a restricted clientele, often limited to their own town or city, are now receiving orders from acrossthe globe. The merchants who sold their products via word-of-mouth publicity or through local exhibitions are now able to showcase their products to a larger audience online and attract customers at the click of a button. With talent in abundance in small towns, reaching the right customer was a major hurdle until a few years ago. This led to loss of talent and exploitation of workers, who earned extremely low wages and had no accessibility to direct markets. The new-age portals have thrown open a myriad of opportunities for more than 2,000 traditional skill-based clusters in India that cover various skills such as handicrafts, textile, jewellery designing, glass and wooden industries.
Rather than building an independent website, smaller merchants, artisans and craftspeoplecan save a lot of time and money by simply listing their products on online marketplaces. With a few marketplaces offering logistics services and easy payment options, sellers can achieve several economic benefits and expand their business as well as generate additional sales. Moreover, the marketplaces already come with a stamp of consumer trust and popularity which smaller retailers can leverage to their advantage.
E-commerce marketplaces are a blessing in disguise for India's small brands and sellers, as they no longer have to worry about attracting customers or take care of end-to-end services. From the right mix of convenience, wide variety of categories, user-friendly interfaces and attractive price ranges,e-commerce marketplaces are here to stay. Along with the Prime Minister’s Make in India program aimed at encouraging manufacturing in the country and at promoting entrepreneurship, these e-commerce marketplaces will surely prove to be a gateway to success for less-established brands and retailers.
The article has been penned down by Jimmy Kaul, Managing Director and Co- Founder, Shopotox.