“Every great thing comes from an inspiration and deep commitment.”
His trip to Rajasthan inspired him to come up with a business idea that can represent Indian art on the global platform. We usually hear of businessmen turning investor. But in the case of CraftedIndia, an e-commerce startup in the handicrafts sector, it’s the other way round. Co-founded by Vinay Jain, who was working with a family business before setting out to startup. CraftedIndia is one of the fastest growing e-commerce platforms in the handicraft space. In this exclusive interview, Mr. Vinay talks about the business idea, the advantages of having been an investor while starting up, co-founding a company and the road ahead for CraftedIndia. It was a great experience interviewing Mr. Vinay, knowing about his journey throughout and the ups and downs he faced while his startup business which is now a well known handicraft goods site CraftedIndia.com.
Mr. Vinay, how did the idea for CraftedIndia come about?
There’s a long story behind CraftedIndia, it all started from an inspiration. I love travelling; my trip to Rajasthan with a friend from Italy was the reason behind CraftedIndia. We visited a market in Jaipur; there we saw many stores selling handicraft goods. I saw the fascination and curiosity on his face when seeing these products. He was amazed by seeing such an authentic range of handcrafted products and variety of Indian arts. He asked the prices of some home décor products, gifting items and the shopkeeper quoted a high price. Not just one store but same thing happened in many stores. Being an Indian and travelling to many places, I was aware and had some idea about the price range. I realized, people are demanding handicrafts around the globe and they also pay the prices quoted by shopkeepers. That day I saw a market and decided let’s see how we can research into and develop a business model. This is how the whole idea behind CraftedIndia had started in the year 2014.
- India is rich in its art and crafts, each state has its own unique art form.
- There is a wide range of products but an unorganised sector.
- No regulations or rules to abide in terms of procuring.
- Certain Arts were dying because of no business. Proper marketing strategy with right information can help them revive and can be recognised globally.
Which handicraft market was first pitched?
My trip to Rajasthan inspired me about the idea of a handicraft business. So it was very obvious at that time for me to start with Rajasthani Handicrafts. Wooden home decor handicrafts from Jodhpur was initially pitched and then I started pitching other crafts like stone art, marble art, blue pottery, bidri work, ceramics, block print art, kantha work, gems stone art, dhokra art, bamboo and cane art, metal art and a lot more.
What are the challenges of building an e-commerce company in handicrafts sector?
It’s a distinguished category. The sourcing and supply chain system in handicrafts is disintegrated and it is in need of aggregation. Since it’s all handmade, maintaining consistency in terms of quality is the key factor. Products differ as per the photography. It’s not possible to click photos for all quantities of a particular product. Getting people accustomed to buying handicrafts online is also a task. These products are mostly bought over the counter after actually seeing and feeling. Setting up an e-commerce platform is more difficult then setting up a store front. Lot of technical aspect we need to consider. We need to filter out vendors constantly. By vendors, we mean artisans from small villages across India. But then, this is a category that’s unique to India. Handicrafts have always been our strength. It’s a $7 billion market in India and globally, it’s even bigger. Margins are also higher.
How did you connect with the artisans? Were you aware about the different art forms?
First we decided which art we want to focus on. Then it was time to research on the places from where the arts were originated. Through communicating with people there, we tried to reach a few artisans. Before, I did not know much about the Indian arts. It became more interesting after the trip to Rajasthan. I became curious to know more about it and this helped me to reach the real handicraft market. The more I researched and got in touch with the artisans, more I came to know about various art forms.
What is your target audience? How did you decide the price structure, did you offer any discounts?
Handicraft usually does not have a target audience. We all love to make our home look beautiful by adding our personalised touch to it. Artefacts and Home Decor items are preferred by everyone for their home, offices and other interiors. Handicrafts are great for gifting too. So it was an open market for everyone. No matter what their age is, still we try to focus on women aged between 25yrs to 50yrs.
Setting the price structure was simple formula. We wanted our customers to be happy but keeping in mind the fixed margin we wanted, in order to run this company better. We had to account also the delicacy of the products when they are shipped out. We believe customers are happy when they get some discount on the purchase they make. Bargaining is in the blood for most Indians. We do keep some discounts on that to with a reason behind it.
“Ultimately, we want our customers to be happy and satisfied with what they have paid.”
When did you start hiring and expanding your company?
Firstly, I took help from my cousin in order to check whether this business will work or no.
With the help of few people we took part in exhibitions, we got good response and feedback. Then eventually we started selling on platforms like Amazon and Flipkart Sales. The response we got was tremendous, then we thought that handicrafts market do exists and we can start soon with our own online platform. It was from April 2016, I started hiring.
Did you face loss situations? What solutions you came up with?
Every startup takes time to become a big brand or a company. Every business makes profit and loss. Even CraftedIndia has gone through losses. But right now my vision is to develop CraftedIndia as a Global Brand for Indian Handicrafts. Keeping this vision in mind, we are focusing more towards developing rather than concentrating on how much we are earning.
What marketing strategies you use? Who are your competitors?
Competitors for us are learning phase. Craftsvilla are an inspiration for us and we think we can be one of them in coming future. Social media platforms are vital for the promotion of our brand. Handicraft products need to be exposed to customers with relevant information. Our handicraft products will have public presence on various platforms like national and international exhibition, sponsoring college events and charity events, etc spreading awareness about the extinct handicrafts and constant promotion of Indian art.
How difficult it is to build up trust among the people especially when you are doing online handicraft business?
It is a very difficult task I would say. The way big players are marketing and giving offers and security to people, it becomes difficult for us to exist. That’s why we are planning to deal in exclusive range of handicraft products. Offering them proper security in terms of payment, giving them best return and cancellation policy will help build customer trust.
What helped you figure out the size of the opportunity that you were looking at?
I see my brand CraftedIndia becoming a global recognition for Indian Handicrafts. The opportunity is big and that’s what we are working for. We have good numbers of global traffic on our site. People are also purchasing and a good response from international markets. Indian market is growing at a slower pace but we will definitely do wonders in both national and international markets.
Where do you see CraftedIndia after 5 years?
I want CraftedIndia as big E-commerce platform selling in around 20 countries, having our brand store also and giving out franchisee to interested people. Help our artisans to be recognised on a global platform.
I wish to create a brand image; if someone wants unique home decor/gifting item it should be “CraftedIndia.com” that comes first to their mind.
We at Handicraft Global wish Mr. Vinay Jain much success with CraftedIndia. To check out this e-commerce platform selling handcrafted goods, log on to www.craftedindia.com.
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