Flipkart believes online retailing will reflect the offline trend of smaller apparel brands making up the lion's share of future sales.
The Bengaluru-based e-tailer has launched an exclusive Handloom Store for saris and related products and is working with small entrepreneurs and weavers to bring them on board.
"If you look at offline retailing of fashion products and apparel, branded goods are a small fraction of the market. A lot of sales comes from small entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and weavers," said Ankit Nagori, senior vice-president, marketplace, at Flipkart.
"With our fashion business scaling up so fast, it is important that we start replicating the offline mix," he told Business Standard.
India has close to 20 million small and medium entrepreneurs manufacturing products that can be sold through e-commerce. According to Nagori, only about 30,000 small sellers retail online.
Brushing aside concerns of quality of unbranded products, Nagori said Flipkart ran two levels of checks, proactive and reactive, to ensure consumers received what they ordered. Flipkart audits each seller before bringing it on board by checking capabilities and quality of offerings. It is building a system to predict seller behaviour. Higher than acceptable faults will result in action to protect consumer interests.
"There is no reason why unbranded products cannot sell online. Product reviews and ratings make buying decisions easier. Specific sellers will become brands on their own because they sell great quality for less," Nagori said.
In September 2014, Flipkart launched its exclusive Handloom Store, where it brought on board weavers from Varanasi. The company began with 20 sellers and is looking to expand to 100 soon.
Nagori said handicraft and hand-woven products would be cheaper online than at emporiums because of the exclusion of middle-men. He expects the descriptions and detailing of products on Flipkart's website to encourage consumers to buy them. Return policies will also reassure customers.
Flipkart is running several training programmes across the country to bring more small entrepreneurs on board. It is also partnering industry and government bodies to reach more sellers.
- A lot of sales comes from small entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and weavers, according to Ankit Nagori, senior vice-president, marketplace, Flipkart
- Flipkart aims at replicating this trend in online retail
- In September 2014, it launched its exclusive Handloom Store, where it brought on board weavers from Varanasi
- It is running several training programmes across the country to bring more small entrepreneurs on board
- To address concerns of quality of unbranded products, Nagori said the company ran two levels of checks to ensure consumers received what they ordered