Guest post by Meghla Bhardwaj, IndiaSourcingTrip.comWith the ongoing China-US trade war and uncertainty surrounding it, many Amazon and eCommerce private label sellers are looking to alternative countries including India to source products. This articles talks about why sellers should import from India and how they can find suppliers.
Why source from India?Here are some advantages Amazon and e-commerce sellers have when buying products from India.
1. Find unique, differentiated productsOne of the main reasons to source from India is that the country specializes in producing unique and handcrafted products not found in other countries. India suppliers focus on design development and regularly develop and launch in-house designed products. There are also a wide range of indigenous handicraft styles that are unique to the country. For example, blue pottery from the state of Rajasthan, or cane and bamboo products made in the Eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya and Sikkim. In fact, suppliers are very protective about their designs. At trade shows, exhibitors won’t let buyers take photos of products in their booths. The advantage of selling handcrafted products is that they can command higher prices and therefore have higher profit potential.
2. No import tariffsWith the US tariffs on China-made products, many importers are looking to source products from alternative markets, and India is one of them. India is not in a trade war with the US, and even though India was recently removed from the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) list of developing countries that have preferential access to the US, this will not impact eCommerce sellers importing from India. This is because most of the items given preferential access were industrial and chemical products that eCommerce sellers would not be importing.
3. Place small ordersSince a lot of the products are handmade, India suppliers are usually willing to cater to small orders. While minimum order quantities typically range from 200-500 units, suppliers cater to orders as low as 20-50 pieces (with the exception of apparel and textiles). They may charge a slightly higher price for smaller orders. This is definitely a huge advantage for Amazon sellers, especially if you’re just starting out with a small budget or if you’re an experienced seller and want to test a new product line.
4. IP protectionOne of the main areas of contention in the trade war between the US and China is IP protection. But when you source from India, you won’t have to worry about your supplier copying your designs and selling them to other buyers. In general, Indian suppliers have more respect for their buyers’ IP than typical Chinese suppliers. That doesn’t mean your IP will never ever be compromised, but it’s much less likely to happen in India than in China.
5. Smooth communicationEnglish is the second official language in India, and most people you will deal with at your supplier will speak English, some of course more fluent than others. This is very advantageous when it comes to communicating with your supplier, especially when you are developing or modifying a product to private label.
6. Domestic availability of various raw materialsA wide range of raw materials are readily available domestically in India including cotton, silk, jute, marble, metal, wood, bamboo and others. In comparison, other countries such as Vietnam need to import such raw materials from China. India is the world’s largest producer of cotton and accounts for 26 percent of global production.
7. Help uplift disadvantaged communitiesThere are non-profit organizations in India that employ disadvantaged communities (for e.g. single women who don’t have the skills to earn a living) to manufacture products for export. When Amazon sellers source products from such organizations, they can command higher prices for the products because of the story behind them. At the same time, they get to help and uplift these communities.
Finding suppliersMost Indian suppliers don’t maintain updated catalogs of their products and many don’t even have their own websites because they are afraid their designs will be copied by other suppliers. Here are a few ways to find suppliers:
8. Online supplier directoriesYou can find suppliers on sourcing websites such as GlobalSources.com, Alibaba and India Mart. Global Sources and Alibaba are more export-oriented while India Mart has a large number of suppliers that cater to the domestic market as well. When searching for India suppliers, use the “supplier location” filter on Global Sources and Alibaba.
9. Domestic trade showsThe most relevant exhibition for Amazon sellers to attend in India is the IHGF Delhi Fair that showcases gifts and handicrafts. This fair has been held biannually since 1994 (Spring & Autumn edition) and is organized by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts. The Autumn 2019 edition of this fair will feature close to 3,500 exhibitors spread over 197,000 square meters. There are a number of other smaller industry-specific trade shows held throughout the country.
10. Overseas trade showsIndian suppliers can also be found at overseas shows held in Asia, Europe and the US. Some of these shows are Global Sources Fashion held in Hong Kong, Canton Fair in Guangzhou, SAITEX in Africa, MAISON&OBJET in France, HEIMTEXTIL and AMBIENTE in Germany.
11. Sourcing agentsMany of the buying agents in the country maintain their own databases of vetted suppliers, and can usually help find manufacturers for any product category. Some agents might specialize in certain product categories depending on their location.
12. Export promotion councilsThere are a number or export promotion councils in India for various product categories. They usually have a database of suppliers and are willing to help importers. Search for these councils and contact them via email addresses on their websites. Response may be slow.
This post is by Meghla Bhardwaj, Founder of India Sourcing Trip and The Asian Seller. Meghla has been working in the Asia sourcing industry for over 19 years. She has visited hundreds of factories in India and China and has a deep understanding of manufacturing and sourcing processes. She organizes a guided sourcing and learning tour to the Indian Handicrafts & Gifts Fair every April and October. Learn more about this first-of-its-kind trip at www.IndiaSourcingTrip.com. She has also recently started a podcast for Amazon and eCommerce sellers, especially those based in Asia at www.TheAsianSeller.com.