The Indian Government Just Partnered With Flipkart: Here’s What It Means For The Handloom Industry

Posted on September 2, 2014 in Business and Economy, Culture-Vulture

By Mayank Jain:

Flipkart: 2.4 seconds. That’s the amount of time it took Flipkart to go out of Xiaomi’s latest phone Mi 3’s units as soon as it was launched. Flipkart is riding high on its exclusive tie ups with companies, thereby helping them wipe off their inventories in a matter of a few days to a few seconds in some cases. And now, in this latest tie-up, it’s the Ministry of Textiles that is exploring the marketing capabilities of a ‘website’ which has challenged millions of on ground retailers to sustain themselves, as people are buying everything online at a cheaper price point after they check it out in the stores.

flipkart

Ministry of Textiles: The Ministry took Indian textiles to the ramps of a renowned fashion show. Hand woven fabrics like chanderi, tussar silk and kalamkari crafted into new-age silhouettes made their debut at the Lakme Week Winter/Festive 2014. The response to this Indian Handlooms collection was stirring. Handmade silks and kadwa brocade technique from Varanasi stole the show as truly Indian outfits made from antique and at the same time, exquisite materials were given a modern twist.

25th August, 2014: Flipkart and Ministry of Textiles came together to market Indian textiles online in a game changing and first of its kind association.

Indian handloom industry can be best classified as ‘exotic’; it offers superior quality products at competitive pricing but the reach of these products is largely limited by zero or negligible marketing efforts. The public at large knows ‘khadi’ only as the fabric that Mahatma Gandhi spun and his followers donned during the freedom struggle to signify India’s capacity for self-reliance and not as a flagship brand. Though we ride high on exports and culture/region specific demand like that of Pashmina, there is usually no impetus for the common man on the street to check out the clothing and handloom products which workers and artisans help manufacture in Indian villages.

In a one of a kind tie-up, Flipkart has managed to rope in a government unit to market their products on a purely private e-commerce platform. The collaboration between Flipkart and the Ministry of Textiles will provide a platform, analytics of their sales, data on trends as well as support in customer acquisition to numerous weavers in India. This is a step in the right direction as remotely located weavers will finally be able to reach out to buyers from across the country. Their products will sell under their own brand name and soon enough, they will turn into self-made entrepreneurs with a clear sense of running an online business for indigenous goods and a ready market.

Flipkart plans to put its nationwide network of business associates to good use and help weavers provide their goods from their door steps and the network will assist them in distributing these products without ever stepping out of their workplace or shop floor.

“This kind of a coordinated effort has been planned and executed for the first time with Flipkart for handloom weavers which will bridge the missing linkages of market intelligence, market access and logistics and help the Indian weavers in getting remunerative prices for their products,” the press release detailed.

The list of problems with Indian manufacturing sector runs long and almost equals the potential. With our 820 million people still living on less than $2 a day, the boost in employment opportunities is long overdue. While agriculture remains the largest ‘employer’ in the country, it can’t be called ‘financially viable’ given the erratic monsoons and lack of infrastructure which make farmer suicides a common phenomenon during a bad harvest. Manufacturing needs to step up and so does the infrastructure.

This partnership will open avenues beyond traditional retail which is expensive and not always profitable. It is a brilliant opportunity for Flipkart to firm their position as the premier online marketing platform while the Ministry has a chance to resurrect the glory of Indian handlooms. We are yet to see how this partnership works out but it definitely holds lots of promises for manufacturers. With 243 million internet users in the country, it might just be the right time for the small scale industries to finally go online.

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