Start-ups have been harnessing the power of technology to push the traditional forms of trade to tap into the larger marketplace – Meet Shah, Craftezy, Full Interview

Meet Shah, Founder of Craftezy

Meet Shah, Founder of Craftezy

Craftezy is a fully-managed B2B marketplace for Indian handicrafts products. They help Indian manufacturers and wholesalers connect with International buyers. The work doesn’t end with just connecting them, they help the sellers make their catalogs more marketable, attractive, and professional by providing dedicated cataloging team support. The startup helps them with logistics so they don’t have to worry about fulfillment or shipping, by partnering up with big logistics aggregators to provide much better pricing. Below is a transcript from interaction with Meet Shah, Founder of Craftezy where he answered questions related to the industry, organization, and the future ahead.

Prateek: What is the mission and vision behind Craftezy?

Meet Shah:

Mission – Craftezy’s mission is to make Indian handicrafts accessible to all over the world. We will be creating a curated club of buyers and sellers to ensure fair trade and meaningful exchange.

Our core focus is quality and not quantity, it is easier said than done, but we’re constantly working towards that and take conscious decisions. Craftezy will never compromise on Integrity, Craftsmanship, Inclusivity, and transparency. We’re creating a club of exclusive sellers, so quality and trust are two of the most critical factors for us.

The primary differentiation is that we care about this industry as a whole and not only the sellers and buyers on our platform.

The real essence of this industry is those talented yet less fortunate artisans in remote areas who can’t make a decent living for themselves. With Craftezy, we aim to help them as much as we can. With every transaction that happens on our platform, a portion of Craftezy’s revenue will be donated to individual artisans, and that artisan will be connected directly with the buyer. The buyer will also receive a handmade gift from that artisan, which Craftezy will be purchasing from the artisan.

Vision – The global handicrafts market was $600 billion, out of which India contributed less than 1%. This is a shocking statistic for a country known for its culture, tradition, and crafts.

We don’t want to steal a market share out of this $3 billion export market; instead, we want to increase it to $6 billion in the next 7 years. 

Prateek: What is your strategy to connect with small artisans/businesses in small towns of the country?

Meet Shah: Currently, due to covid, we’re reaching out to them via calls and digital channels, but as soon as everything gets better, we want to start visiting them physically to form a deeper relationship with them. For us, it’s crucial to develop healthy relationships with our suppliers to control the quality and provide competitive pricing. We constantly offer our sellers detailed forecasts based on the feedback to help them improve their offerings and pricing. To help them improve, it’s essential to have a good relationship with them.

Prateek: What role can start-ups play in preventing a country’s rich handicraft culture from fading away?

Meet Shah: Start-ups have recognized this challenge for the handicrafts sector and have been helping uplift the market and the community. The artisans need a hand-holding approach and have to be made digitally literate to overcome the roadblocks faced during their growth by leveraging technology’s power.

They understand the various challenges faced by the artisans and focus on building tailor-made solutions that help boost their morale and enhance the operations of businesses.

The pandemic accelerated the pace of technology adoption last year. Since then, almost every business has been undergoing digital transformations, and the handicrafts sector has been no exception. Digitization is helping small handicrafts businesses to expand their footprints and foray into the global markets. However, the start-up ventures have been providing the artisans with the requisite assistance and technology to survive and thrive in the present times.

Start-ups have been harnessing the power of technology to push the traditional forms of trade to tap into the larger marketplace. While earlier exhibitions were the only option for selling artisan products, artisans got their online identity with the rising prominence of the Internet and social media. They also got access to a plethora of opportunities to sell their products in the digital space. The core foundation of start-ups is based on technology, and they rely heavily on tech-driven solutions for their smooth operations. The ventures are also harnessing their power and are upscaling the artisans’ community as well as the handicrafts sector on the whole. New-age solutions such as AI, ML, Blockchain, etc., are used to streamline processes and help artisans.

Start-ups help bridge the physical-digital divide and have made it possible to combine traditional processes with contemporary operations. They make trading relevant and new-age regarding today’s digital-driven world and further pave the way for innovation across products, processes, and platforms. They provide the right platform for artisans for selling heritage craft that is eco-friendly & innovative. Thereby they are rendering a helping hand in preventing India’s rich handicraft culture from fading away.

Furthermore, the ventures also provide them with the assistance to effectively cater to the aesthetic gap and fulfill the needs of modern consumers. To make handicraft products relevant for today’s times, an innovative approach for design and quality is required. Hence, various ventures identify artists, train them and collaborate with them on designs. They help the craftsmen create new handicrafts and enable them to sell their self-designed pieces to their customers online and offline.

Which according to you are the 5 best online marketplaces for handmade goods?

Meet Shah:

  1. The India Craft house
  2. Saffron art
  3. Studio copper
  4. Arty owl
  5. Afday

Prateek: What will be the scope of digitalization for the handicraft segment in India in the coming time?

Meet Shah: The potential of cross-border trade through e-commerce is immense. Consumers’ buying has changed rapidly, and businesses need to change the traditional model to scale up and survive. The CBT eCommerce has eliminated the main problems faced in conventional exports like payment system shifted to digital payments; traditional advertisement moved to digital advertising providing a greater reach, detailed analytics helping with accurate forecasting, customer engagement resulting in higher customer satisfaction. This is the chance to enter still the untapped potential of the Indian economy, which is expected to be a 2 trillion dollar market by 2026, surpassing the US. People have started buying online more because of the convenience it provides, ease of transactions, trusted payment gateways, range of products available, price and delivery availability, etc.

The need to promote cross-border e-commerce is logical, considering the increasing digitization and IT access for commerce across the globe. The Internet has seamlessly connected buyers and sellers, otherwise separated by vast distances.

One of the reasons for the poor presence of the Indian MSMEs in the global market is the high concentration of India’s exports to only a limited number of international markets. Nearly 43 percent of India’s exports are limited to Asia, followed by Europe and America. The major export destinations for India are the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States of America (USA), Hong Kong, and China. This is possibly due to its limited reach to foreign buyers attributed to its concentration on offline sales.

Indian exports face stiff competition from countries like China and emerging countries like Venezuela, Peru, Algeria, Argentina, and South countries. One way to come ahead of our competitors and gain a competitive advantage is to promote cross-border trade/exports through e-commerce.

Prateek: Please elaborate on your future & funding plans.

Meet Shah: We want to onboard 1000 quality sellers on our platform within our first full year, and we’re already 60% there. We’re establishing partnerships with buyers and re-sellers in the international markets to gain maximum exposure; along with our digital marketing channels, we have a great chance to make a good impact.

We want to stay focused on promoting these products on an international level and making our sellers ready for these markets. It is a difficult journey because a lot of education goes into the process and maintaining the business side of things, but we’re ready for it because we genuinely care about this industry.

We want to keep it bootstrapped until we have a proof of concept and have enough traction. We might consider funding that time once we feel that we now have a proof of concept and want to scale things quickly.

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