The traditional handlooms and crafts, once the pride of Indian heritage, are now on the brink of extinction due to the decline of regular buyers, scarcity of raw material and the subsequent and increasing cost of production. Such a unique heritage must be preserved as not only an identity but also a viable source of revenue for the rural artisans.
Large scale diversity in India has facilitated different varieties of handicraft products in the market. The artisans involved in this form about 15-20% of the non-farming rural workforce, who now are facing serious challenges in such rich art which is definitely time-consuming and locally made, and hence, remain remote to urban consumers.
Remote production is one factor that prevents the artisans from the know-how of demand in the market, and hence the decline. Also, the lack of investments in this sector resulted in a non-existent supply chain creating bottlenecks in production.
In this blog, we shall see how digitization can fuel the globalization of this industry and contribute to a profit-driven economy.
E-Commerce platforms essentially give you the space to come close to buyers as well as sellers. This ecosystem consists of prudent entrepreneurs, active consumer communities, and crowd-funding programs to support your product in the commercial business.
Online Handicraft Business
In spite of having a large rural human workforce practicing handloom culture relative to China, Taiwan, Korea, the industry remains largely untapped due to a lack of connectivity between weavers and sellers.
With an annual export of worth 13,412.92 crores, India contributes to only 1.2% of the global handloom market.
However, rising demands for authentic Indian handicrafts in the US and European nations are steadily attracting investments in this sector. Hence, the development of e-commerce platforms focussed on handicraft business remains to be touched by the dynamic startup and investment activities in India.
Microsoft India has launched a new e-commerce platform re-weave.in for handloom weavers under its Project ReWeave. This initiative connects artisans of the different category under one umbrella with customers to whom they can directly sell their commodity
The target is to push for more handloom products from rural weavers onboard India’s existing online fashion retail which is estimated to be touching $35 billion by 2020.
This is facilitated by rapid internet penetration due to massive digital initiatives from the Govt. of India.
Competitive Supply Chain
Once considered a labor-intensive manufacturing sector, thanks to the digital revolution, the global textile supply chain is now undergoing a significant transformation to a technology-driven and value-added business process.
It’s quite imperative for the reader to first understand the existing supply chain landscape handlooms.
Bringing weaving communities together, supply chains can be easily transformed digitally and even tailored to the needs of different handicraft manufacturers.
Strong inventory management, location, and season based customer demand data analysis and as long partner collaboration shall drive the handloom textile business.
BizVibe is one of such leading e-commerce platforms that provides fabric and textiles artisans with a seamless, efficient and easy-to-use service for finding and connecting with other businesses and creating virtual communities for better supply chain management.
Digital Loom Software
Easy to use digital softwares has been developed, like Digikala by Microsoft, which once trained, is efficient to use and handle. This software reduces the time-consuming design work with its massive libraries of stored templates.
Mostly it has been seen that though rural youths acquire weaving skills at a very young age, due to insufficient revenue, they are forced to find unskilled laborious jobs in factories or the construction industry: draining their years of acquired talent.
Such software enables faster processing of handlooms keeping the traditional heritage intact. Impressed by the potential growth, Microsoft has further encashed in digital training in handloom designing through a new curriculum: ‘CAD and Color for Handloom Weaving’ at NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology).
Organizations are taking such initiatives to the rural artisans too so as to upskill them and hence, streamline the production chain.
Want Customized Handicrafts? Choose Mobility Solutions!
With digital connectivity platforms, weaving communities can directly interact with consumers or dealers to know what designs or crafts they want to include. Since traditional handloom products are still seen as a luxury commodity, customers will be eager to have a handicraft of exactly their choice.
Mobility apps can deliver this application in a unique way.
First of all, customers will be shown a series of available options filtered according to the category of products they want. These options shall help the customer to navigate nearer to what they want.
After this, with a live chatbot, they can directly ask for fine-tunings within the selected product: a complete personalization is hence ensured. For launching any new craft, mobile apps give you the best platform to notify your users about current works going on in the community.
This digital streaming between buyers and producers exercise facilitates not only better quality products but also an assured relationship between the weaver and consumer community.
Mobile applications increase the handloom visibility in the fashion and textile market and with enhanced customer experience, the handcraft develops into a brand in itself.
Such customized products can compete with online fashion retailers like Myntra, Amazon and Flipkart where customers have the constraint of choosing only the available products.
Handicrafts: The Future
From the above analysis, we get to know that since handicrafts are still being produced by weavers physically, there is a greater scope of customised products being sold: hence, better customer experience and visibility. Integrating handloom features with mobile applications and digital tools, greater variety of products can be brought out in the market
Also, implementing a data-driven supply-chain by converting singular artisans into communities of textile production units, shall help streamline the raw material availability, processing and delivery stages uniquely. Several e-commerce platforms like GoCoop have joined hands in this initiative: giving life to this endangered skillful industry.