Indian Handicrafts: Struggle of E-Commerce to Portray the Artisans Globally

Indian handicrafts represent the eons old art, culture and traditions of India. These crafts are a representation of the many unique sub-cultures within the country. Today Indian handicrafts are included in our day to day life decor and utility. The blend of modern and ethnic decor is a new trend. Today even after facing many issues and lack of basic requirements the artisans are thriving hard to keep their art alive.

The treasures of India’s handicrafts and textiles that once occupied a pride of place in the lives of royalty today lie lost in the chronicles of time!!! Fighting a battle of survival with the trends-driven dynamics of the contemporary marketplace, the artisans are struggling to keep the traditional art of India alive along with the help of government and private sectors.

Indian Handicraft sector is an unorganised sector and since the artisans are working really hard to save the art there are many problems faced by them.  Many steps are been taken by government and private sectors to support the craft and the craftsmen but a lot is yet to be done.

 Some of these issues are stated below:

Low Productivity:

The informal nature of handicraft sector and low education of the artisans leads to many problems. Many crafts require the entire household to participate in production in some capacity. In many cases, crafts also serve as a seasonal source of income for agricultural households. This means that children miss school, resulting in low education levels for the family overall. The lack of education makes it difficult to manage inventory, access government schemes and market information and bargain with traders and middlemen.

Lack of Interest of the Younger Generation:

The youth migrate to towns or city for in search of alternative lifestyle. However, they end up doing odd jobs and ignore their traditional idea of making crafts. Also their lack of interest in the business of making crafts effects the artisans as there is no new method or idea applied in the process. Influenced by the urban lifestyle even the craftsmen do not encourage these youth or don’t want their children to follow the same practice of making crafts.

High Maintenance:

A lot of care needs to be taken for maintaining handicrafts. As they are fragile in nature it is very important to maintain, clean and place the handcrafted good appropriately. The maintaining cost is higher due to which the price of the final product increases.

Time Consuming Process:

As these goods are handmade a lot of time and efforts are required while producing them. All the products are made using natural materials and needs many labours which eventually increases the production cost.

Inadequate Inputs:

Handicraft producers mostly suffer from lack of working capital and access to credit facilities and loans. Due to lack of education they usually end up paying more interests and make no profits.  It is an unorganised section, handicrafts faces problems such as a paucity of professional infrastructure such as work sheds, storage space, shipping and packing facilities.

Outdated Methods:

Mainly due to lack of funding the artisans are unable to upgrade technology in production. Also lack of knowledge and disinterest of young generation they do not adopt new methods and continue following the old school methods in producing handicrafts. This leads to delay in production and not many new designs can be seen in the market. Often craftsmen and artisans are not aware of the market demand hence a mismatch in demand and supply is evident.

Lack of Consumer Awareness:

This is another factor that influences the handicraft market. Consumers are not aware of the fact that most of these craft decor products are handmade and produced using natural materials. It becomes very obvious that the crafts products are little expensive than machine made products. Buyers mostly try to bargain while buying handicraft goods, but they don’t understand that these products need lots of time, labour and skills to make.

India is one of the largest users of Internet across the world after US. Hence E-commerce has huge hidden and untapped opportunities for the businesses as well as local artisans. E-commerce presents a great marketing platform for domestic produced goods. It also increases the chances of export. India’s cultural diversity provides remarkable art & craft products. India is always known for its year old art of making handicrafts and including them in day to day decor defining various cultures and traditions. Total worth of Indian handicraft industry across the globe is US $32 billion. While India’s world market share in handicraft is of 1.2%. Most desired handicrafts from India includes carpets, wooden ware, bamboo products, marble sculpture and showpiece, bronze figurines, leather goods, traditional paintings of different cultures, zari and embroidery fabrics and goods, antique jewellery, and dhokra art.

E-commerce is one of the most promising channels today that serve to the handicraft market. They use social media platforms and other for marketing these products which is eventually raising the awareness of Indian handicrafts worldwide. It makes easy availability of handicraft goods at global level. Buying handicrafts online is the easiest way to find and shop for various handicrafts decor goods made by craftsmen from different Indian states. The demand of handicrafts is rising in US, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy etc providing great opportunity. Each industry such as fashion, real estate, home decor etc demands for Indian handicrafts.

Today, Indian handicrafts are recognised worldwide with the help of e-commerce sector. The entry of key e-commerce players – such as CraftedIndia, Indian Roots, Craftsvilla, Engrave and many others – in the handicrafts sector has raised hopes of empowering artisans across the country, giving them freedom to choose buyers who can offer them higher prices. These e-com portals play a vital role that represents the art of India and Indian artisans on Global platform.  



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