US buy­ers seem pos­i­tive…! In­di­cate in­crease in sourc­ing of home fur­nish­ing from In­dia

In­di­cate in­crease in sourc­ing of home fur­nish­ing from In­dia

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Growth: Bos­ton In­ter­na­tional, Mas­sachusetts which grew by 12 per cent last year, is ex­pect­ing sim­i­lar growth (10 to 12 per cent) this year too. In­dia’s Her­itage is also do­ing well and the cur­rent year also looks good for them. The com­pany’s business has grown con­sis­tently year-on-year.

The 45th edi­tion of In­dia Hand­i­crafts and Gifts Fair (IHGF) – Delhi Fair Spring 2018 – or­ga­nized by the Ex­port Pro­mo­tion Coun­cil for Hand­i­crafts (EPCH), as usual wit­nessed visi­ta­tion from large number of over­seas and do­mes­tic buy­ers, top re­tail­ers and buy­ing agents. Many of them were keen to ex­plore home fur­nish­ing prod­ucts (soft goods) put on dis­play by nearly 480 In­dian home fur­nish­ing ex­porters. Ap­parel Online met some of the in­ter­est­ing buy­ers at the fair and dis­cussed the business sce­nario, their strat­egy, fu­ture plans and al­lied as­pects of sourc­ing home fash­ion prod­ucts from In­dia. It is a good sign for In­dia that US-based whole­salers/im­porters seem pos­i­tive about their business and they are look­ing to in­crease home fur­nish­ing sourc­ing from In­dia.

With re­gard to US-based buy­ers, the good thing is that new com­pa­nies are now ex­plor­ing In­dia and many of them were happy with the over­all of­fer­ings that they found at the fair. Es­tab­lished im­porters too are adding new prod­uct cat­e­gories. Some of the prod­uct cat­e­gories are com­ing back to In­dian mar­ket and few oth­ers are do­ing well. For ex­am­ple, medium and high-end mar­ket seg­ment is com­ing back to In­dia for more lux­ury items, or­gan­icbased prod­ucts. Buy­ers are very op­ti­mistic about In­dia, and spe­cially in com­par­i­son to China. Few buy­ers also say that In­dian ex­porters’ ways of ap­proach­ing cus­tomers is def­i­nitely much bet­ter than that of the Chinese, and this is a pos­i­tive way to get more business.

It has been widely re­ported in re­cent times that Chinese com­pa­nies have in­creased their fo­cus on prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, de­signs which is an­other is­sue for In­di­ans. How­ever, many buy­ers do not agree to the same, though ex­perts feel that in some prod­uct cat­e­gories like ta­ble tops, China has grabbed a big share of In­dia.

Deal­ing with a large va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent kinds of soft and hard goods, Bos­ton In­ter­na­tional, Mas­sachusetts, a dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany started sourc­ing home fur­nish­ing prod­uct, from In­dia just a year and half ago. The com­pany also ex­plored China for the same as it has strong know-how of China and has been sourc­ing from there. But a top of­fi­cial (names have not been shared on buy­ers’ re­quest) of the com­pany found In­dia more in­ter­est­ing in few as­pects. “Our cus­tomers ex­pect a lot of va­ri­ety from us which is a chal­lenge. Chinese are not good in Amer­i­can­ised art, so in China we were not get­ting va­ri­ety of art­work and de­tail­ing that could keep our cus­tomers in­ter­ested, so we ex­plored In­dia for tex­tiles and right from the start, In­dian de­signs did very well for us. Print­ing and over­all qual­ity in In­dian prod­ucts is very good and consistent,” she in­formed, adding that in shade vari­a­tion also, In­dia is bet­ter than China, as they do not find this prob­lem in In­dia. For a year, her team keenly ob­served cus­tomers’ re­sponse to In­dian prod­ucts and fi­nally they de­cided to visit In­dia and work more deeply with In­dian com­pa­nies. Cur­rently the com­pany is sourc­ing kitchen and ta­ble li­nen from In­dia and in a year, it has sourced more than US $ 1,00,000 worth of prod­ucts and is ex­pect­ing 40 to 50 per cent growth in the same. She is of the view that de­liv­ery tim­ing is the only is­sue where In­dian ex­porters need to im­prove a lit­tle.

There are some other buy­ers who are still bank­ing on In­dia’s dif­fer­en­tial strength, yet are spread­ing their sourc­ing into other coun­tries to add more value in their of­fer­ing. How­ever, their first pri­or­ity is still In­dia and they too are look­ing at in­creas­ing their sourc­ing from In­dia. In­dia’s Her­itage, New Jer­sey work­ing for al­most 20 years in In­dia, is prop­erly uti­liz­ing the strengths of most In­dian hubs and is try­ing to ex­pose these strengths to var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional clients of the US mar­ket. “We do prod­ucts that are tra­di­tional, tran­si­tional, con­tem­po­rary, and

of mid-cen­tury… For that we source from Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai, Ban­ga­lore, Kolkata and Kash­mir,” shared a se­nior-most of­fi­cial of the com­pany. In­dia’s Her­itage will con­tinue to grow sourc­ing from In­dia as it con­sis­tently works to add new cat­e­gories to ex­pand its prod­uct lines and is also wit­ness­ing an in­crease in de­mand for the ex­ist­ing prod­uct cat­e­gories. “We fo­cus a lot on how we can of­fer dif­fer­ent kinds of looks in our prod­uct lines. A year ago, we started sourc­ing throws from In­dia, which proved a good business for the com­pany,” says the of­fi­cial. To serve its client bet­ter, he of­fered a pack­age (box of prod­ucts) to the re­tail­ers which are dif­fi­cult for them to source in­di­vid­u­ally. This strat­egy has been very suc­cess­ful for the com­pany.

Two years ago, In­dia’s Her­itage started sourc­ing bed­ding from

Eu­rope as it had too much mix of In­dia and wanted to break the monotony. “Sourc­ing from Eu­rope helped us to be trendier rather than be­ing very tra­di­tional. We got a good mix of fabric from there,” he added. Ded­i­cated purely to home fur­nish­ing prod­ucts, the com­pany is hav­ing ware­house at New Jer­sey from where it caters to var­i­ous chain stores, fur­ni­ture stores of North Amer­ica and South Amer­ica. As far as over­all work­ing of In­dian ex­porters is con­cerned, these buy­ers are rel­a­tively happy as he feels that there has been a lot of im­prove­ment over the years as ex­porters are now more pro­fes­sional and are trav­el­ling more which is help­ing them to un­der­stand in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, trends etc. With re­gard to fur­ther ar­eas of im­prove­ment, he feels that com­mu­ni­ca­tion and shade dif­fer­ence are the is­sues where In­dian com­pa­nies can im­prove fur­ther. On sim­i­lar lines, in­ter­na­tional ex­perts also in­sist that In­dian ex­porters need to study their per­spec­tive clients or cus­tomers more deeply. Work­ing with In­dia from last 25 years, Head of Re­tail Strat­egy, Is­rael, says, “It is very im­por­tant for the sup­plier to minutely un­der­stand cul­ture, lifestyle and over­all study of the cus­tomers. And I am help­ing them in the same.” she is sup­port­ing the in­dus­try by her ex­pert con­sul­tancy ser­vice on prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and sourc­ing, to the In­dian com­pa­nies. “Not ev­ery­one is open to new ideas, and more re­search is a prob­lem with many In­dian ex­porters, but sooner or later they have to change this mind­set as even within a city, buy­ers of sim­i­lar prod­ucts are quite dif­fer­ent,” she rea­soned. Re­gard­ing mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties, she is of the opin­ion that apart from US, there is am­ple op­por­tu­nity for In­dian com­pa­nies in Is­rael, es­pe­cially in prod­uct cat­e­gories like bed­ding and tow­els. It is a good mar­ket as peo­ple fre­quently change their home dé­cor and per capita in­come is also high com­pared to many other coun­tries. But be­ing a small mar­ket, com­pe­ti­tion is very high, so one has to be very care­ful about pric­ing.

With pos­i­tiv­ity in the US, some

In­dian buy­ing agen­cies are also gear­ing up to get more or­ders of home fur­nish­ing prod­ucts, es­pe­cially as in re­cent years they missed this seg­ment. They are even adding new strate­gies to achieve this goal. For ex­am­ple, Delhi-based Charu Mer­chan­dis­ing is now ex­pect­ing that home fur­nish­ing business should come back as fo­cus is more in that di­rec­tion, cur­rently. The com­pany is try­ing to push reg­u­lar items like bath tow­els, bath mates, sheet­ing, pil­low cov­ers in tex­tile business as these are big vol­ume business. “China is 'killing' us, as peo­ple are go­ing for cheaper kinds of stuff like mi­cro fi­bres; so we are try­ing to work more on our prod­uct line. Our ma­jor mar­ket is the US and we are ex­plor­ing new clients in the mar­ket. We are try­ing to add more ac­counts as it is time to work with more im­porters as im­porter's business gives big­ger hori­zon of get­ting into stores. We are still work­ing with one to one stores like Dol­lar Tree, Fam­ily Dol­lar, but through im­porters we get ac­cess to lot of other stores,” says Deven Sax­ena, MD, Charu Mer­chan­dis­ing, who is work­ing with lot of dis­coun­ters in US.

There are some other buy­ers still bank­ing on In­dia’s dif­fer­en­tial strength yet spread­ing their sourc­ing into other coun­tries to add more value in their of­fer­ing. How­ever, their first pri­or­ity is still In­dia and they too are look­ing at in­creas­ing their sourc­ing from In­dia.

It has been widely re­ported in re­cent times that Chinese com­pa­nies have in­creased their fo­cus on prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, de­signs which is an­other is­sue for In­di­ans. How­ever, many buy­ers do not agree to the same, though ex­perts feel that in some prod­uct cat­e­gories like ta­ble tops, China has grabbed a big share of In­dia.

Deven Sax­ena (L) MD, Charu Mer­chan­dis­ing with Lokesh Parashar of Buy­ing Agents As­so­ci­a­tion

Se­nior team of Bos­ton In­ter­na­tional

Top rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Re­tail Strat­egy

Se­nior of­fi­cial of In­dia’s Her­itage

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