India is full of immense creativity and artisans abound, who create gems out of sand with their bare hands. Their outreach is limited due to gaps in the market. Rangiru.com aims to make these handicrafts and their creations accessible to the whole world at their fingertips.
Though there is no single leader in the Indian online space for handicraft products, we have covered a host of them on Pluggd.in, namely UnWrapIndia, ArtForEveryday, Villcart, Shopo, NetHaat, and Aporv, and I am sure there would be many more out there.
However, Rangiru goes a step ahead by including all ‘Lifestyle Goods’, and not just the rural artifacts. From hand-painted shoes and tees to hand-made earrings and bags, acrylic on canvas to funky candlestands, stone and terracotta pottery to jute, cane and paper crafts, Rangiru houses a colourful array products from gifts and collectibles to shoes and apparel. You can browse by art forms, shops, or even handicrafts from a particular Indian state.
Abhey Kumar, co-founder, explains more about Rangiru and the differences from other e-commerce businesses in general and the crafty ones in particular:
PI: How are you different from the numerous e-commerce sites all over the internet?
AK: First, we do not stock anything that comes under the sun. There is a certain bar of art and thought involved in designing and creating the products on our site. This may mean traditional art forms of India or contemporary designs or just cool and funky products. Second, we remove the worries of logistics from the designer/creator. They can focus on what they are really good at. While the current ecommerce market in India has catered branded goods, we are trying to bring the same level of reliability and customer service for products by small artists and ‘brands that are going to be.
PI: How do you source/procure the products on Rangiru? Do you maintain an in-house inventory or do you directly deliver from the producers/suppliers?
AK: We do both. There are several products which we hold inventory for, specially those which have a stronger geographical constraint and/or where the supplier is not yet accustomed to e-commerce. For others, we act as a platform and aim to provide a reliable logistics service.
PI: How do you look at the current and future online market for Indian handicrafts? I see a lot of competition.
AK: Yes, there are several websites already operating and several are coming up. Etsy is a big player internationally, but there is no leader as such for Indian market, yet. So, the market is still wide open as everyone is figuring out what the customers want. As of now, we are also a player in the game. Our bet is on an online customer experience that matches an offline one, say Dilli Haat. We also have some unique ideas to harness the potential of social networking in India, which still remains a huge area to be properly explored in India. Finally, having a wide range of arts and crafts along with providing a learning experience to the customer will certainly add to our proposition.
PI: What is your delivery model? What measures do you take to ensure on-time and single-piece delivery?
AK: We have partnered with Aramex for deliveries. We arrange a door-to-door service for customers, where we get the product picked up from a supplier’s store and get it delivered to the customer. Packaging is extremely critical for the kind of products we are dealing with. We have learnt a lot about packaging and are still learning. Obviously, we replace or refund damaged products.
PI: What has been the traction so far?
AK: Traction has been good. We have not gone hard out on marketing ourselves as we want it to mature slowly and grow organically. However, our order conversion has been better than the general e-com average in the Indian market. We are currently meeting the sales targets we have been keeping for ourselves.
PI: Future plans?
AK: We have identified some clear needs in the market which we are going to execute in the near future. Beyond that we don’t have a plan as e-commerce is like an improvisational theatre for us. Currently, we feel like a kid with a box of crayons in his hands and a large white wall in front.
Not the only kid, I must say. There is a bunch of Indian kids that are trying to follow the Brooklyn-based adult (read Etsy) with an aim to carve out something colourful on the large white wall in front, often overlapping each other’s canvasses. Agreed, there is no established leader in the online Indian territory, and there is a lot of diversity in the states of India to provide an endless flow of handicrafted artistic artifacts to cater to all these players, but the best player will win. And there is place for a close second. Maybe a third too.
There is also a chance of some of these players joining hands(?) and leveraging each other’s networks of artisans and customers, or one of the bigger international companies making a bid for one of these and raising it to fame. Whatever the case be, there is a lot of potential in this area and it would be really interesting to analyze this part of e-commerce a year from now.
What is your opinion? Do you think Rangiru will be able to bring the Dilli Haat kind of experience online? Will it be able to lead the lifestyle goodness sub-domain on the section of the world wide web helping customers buy hand-made artistic stuff online?