Indian sellers have been on Etsy since 2013, but with an India-focused exclusive entryway specifically meant for the Indian sellers launched in 2018, Etsy was meant to conquer new grounds with the handmade and handcrafted industry in India. However, with COVID, will Indian sellers fail to get good responses from buyers overseas? Then came udaan, a B2B platform for brands and retailers, but with their homegrown India-focused approach, have they conquered a bigger territory?
“It has been relatively easier getting sellers onboard in 2020 than before. This is because brands themselves are looking at ways to get pan-India penetration and acquire more customers especially post the pandemic. This has further accelerated the process of massive digital adoption by small, medium and large businesses. Sellers are actively looking for digital solutions to supply to retailers within a short span of time with greater cost efficiency without any hassle. We have thousands of local manufacturers and sellers partnering with udaan to access new markets and benefit from a wide range of products at best prices,” Kumar Saurabh, Head – Lifestyle Category, udaan comments.
The udaan platform offers the best price, highest quality and widest selection of products to its network of retailers by connecting them to manufacturers and sellers across the country. It also provides marketing and sales support and facilitates efficient, transparent and convenient transactions.
The platform’s SaaS offerings, such as analysis of real time marketing feedback through app data analytics, enable brands and manufacturers (sellers) to make well-informed decisions about product launches and testing of new products in different markets. While the app-based pricing system gives transparent and better pricing control, the product listing and in-app advertisements encourage manufacturers to reach their targeted, specific and ready-to-purchase retailers on the platform.
Etsy, on the other hand, has more than 40 million active buyers worldwide. While many Indian sellers have been on Etsy’s platform since 2013, this American e-commerce website has noticed a remarkable surge in the seller numbers from the country since it started its operations in India in 2018. The company has seen more than 110 per cent increase in the number of active sellers within just a few months of stepping exclusively into the Indian soil. Moreover, 83 per cent of Etsy sellers are women and 95 per cent sellers operate through a small home business set-up. But the platform is certainly not uniform for all sellers and actually its entry with an India-specific front has given way to many miseries also for the sellers.
“The response has been extremely good. We started with many small businesses partnering with us, who have seen huge cost benefits, and have continued to expand their business, increase sales and generate higher returns. Some of them are looking at entrepreneurship opportunities and are investing deeply to partner with us and create their own brands. This is the positive impact that udaan has been able to make in the lives of these small businesses,” Kumar highlights.
La Princesse by Tabassum Rahmatullah is a design boutique located in Egmore, Chennai and for years through its offline store, the brand has won many hearts. With a strong Indian following, Tabassum stepped into the online domain with Etsy to explore the global audience. She has seen very good response from UK, USA, Canada and even Denmark. However, with COVID, the buyer responses have become very unpredictable and she says that more than confirmed orders, she is getting a long list of returns and cancellations.
“The problem about cancellation is that the charges we have to pay to PayPal are unjustified and that straight goes from our pocket. More than anything, this charge is a constant pain point for us and this is making me rethink my position on Etsy. Added to this, the increase in courier charges has been a very big setback for us. It takes a lot to convince the customer on the pricing we are charging as an additional for courier. Customers normally do not relate to the on-ground problems that we are facing in India and logistics is surely a big headache now,” Tabassum adds.
Counting the positives
Tabassum mentions that Etsy is definitely a good platform for someone planning to treat their business as a side business. But, only counting on Etsy sales as the sole source of income in the #NewNormal, especially for the clothing and apparel sellers looks very doubtful. The handmade backbone of Etsy has attracted many sellers since the start and from embroidery makers to clothing to home décor, all have gained a lot of prominence over the years. But recently, COVID essentials like masks started selling more as compared to fashion and home décor. Bargaining for price is also a very big con of the buyers on the platform, many sellers confirmed.
“This happens because copies of what you are selling is a prevalent practice and for the buyer to understand who is a genuine seller is not possible. Competition is growing and people are taking advantage of the platform to sell what is getting more response and are then offering low quality of the same product on a lower price tag. This can be stopped using seller filtration. This is something Etsy needs to look at very closely in a country like India. I have had a very satisfying run on Etsy as far as my business is concerned. From genuine responses to a good profit, I have been able to grow my business on the platform,” Sandhya, Founder & Designer for DesignsBySandhya mentioned about her journey on Etsy.
udaan, however, is India’s largest business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform. Sellers can leverage udaan’s strong distribution network to reach over three million (30 lakh) users with an everyday delivery cycle across 900+ cities covering more than 12,000 pin codes. “udaan has built the platform, which is a native fit for the highly fragmented and unorganised Indian trade/retail industry. We have witnessed small, medium and large businesses adopting technology at a faster rate for national reach. udaan has leveraged mobile internet technology and is transforming this unorganised Indian B2B trade. Our successes are reflected in our partnerships. Whether it is great brands like Sparky Jeans or global giants like adidas, Reebok, hummel, udaan has catalysed businesses with its extensive supply chain and logistics network covering 1.7 million (17 lakh) retailers across 900 cities and 12,000 pin codes with daily delivery cycle and huge cost and distribution efficiencies,” Kumar remarks.
Handmade for survival
“For us, selling on Etsy allowed us to open our horizon to the global audience and we were never bothered about the fakes as we knew we had to deliver quality to make the audience beyond borders understand the strength of Indian handmade. It is a strategic platform that way for brands looking at an avenue to expand their market scope,” mentions Dr. Meenakshi, Founder, Cocoon Kapas.
“Repeat orders is still a problem on the platform. In fact, setting the price in a different currency wherein you have to be conscious of not marking the price at a tag that may hurt the buyer from another country, actually sets us back by a few thousands. The many occasions where I have tagged my products directly at a dollar price converting its Indian currency cost, I have found buyers bargaining or complaining about the inflated price,” complains Kakoli Aarup Bhattacharjee, who sells embroidered garments on Etsy.
Etsy maybe extending a global platform to sellers from India, but it is not working out as an out and out marketplace. This actually adds to the problems of sellers who have to fight through rising costs related to currency conversions, logistics and platform charges. Many reputed retailers have withdrawn from Etsy owing to the rising charges and the reducing buyer consciousness. udaan, on the other hand, even with its B2B backbone is certainly pulling in more crowd and opening up a big horizon for the sellers.