India's industrialization and participation in the modern world economy are decades old. Despite that, millions of Indians still depend on indigenous modes of production, traditional skills, and techniques to make a living based on handmade products.
To empower these artisans with technical knowledge to market their products online with low operational cost and a complete ecosystem for global trade, Akshay Wadhwa along with co- founder and CTO Krishan Chandak created Bluerickshaw, a B2B export platform, an online marketplace for artisans and organizations to sell authentic handmade products globally, ensuring customers a quality purchase at a fair price.
1. Please explain your venture to us in brief. What have you brought to the table?
Currently, the market for small sellers in India is very fragmented and they are unable to market their products globally. On the buyer side, there is an issue of trust and credibility and the complexities of export compliances in sourcing products directly from Indian sellers. Bluerickshaw provides an end-to-end solution to buyers across the world, providing access to high-quality goods from India.
2. What makes this particular concept different?
There are various factors that make us different from the rest:
- Features of our platform such as Order A Sample, Online Negotiation, Product customization with MOQ (minimum order quantity) as low as one, and freedom to get in touch with the seller.
- The quality and authenticity of our products- Through our selection & quality check process, we make sure that each product is in the best condition depicting the master skills of our artisans.
- Credit to small buyers and a trusted ecosystem to secure their payments while reducing transaction costs.
- 100 per cent transparency right from order arrival to order delivery.
- Platform has transparent and easy payment options and gives full support to track down the transactions between the seller and the buyer.
3. What have been your marketing strategies first in terms of getting the artisans on board and then in terms of customer acquisition?
We have recently partnered with a trade and commerce body to onboard 361 rural artisans and are in talks with several others to get the right set of sellers onboard. We have a lot of referrals coming by the existing set of sellers also with an on-ground sourcing team who is visiting various tradeshows and doing research to onboard the right set of sellers.
Our customer acquisition strategy during this phase is to tap into the existing sales rep model and onboard sales agents to work as intermediaries against a % commission on sales on the platform.
4. What are the challenges that you have faced so far?
Most of our buyers were used to operating in a purely offline space. They are between the ages of 45-65 and have limited technological savviness.
Last year in April, India entered nationwide lockdown which created a lot of supply-chain issues as deliveries and couriers were not operational. Because there was a restriction on international flights, couriers were impacted and our logistics price increased 5x which caused a slow in our growth. We are now seeing improvements in our traction.
5. What is the potential of growth?
We’ve onboarded 143 sellers and have a waitlist of 100+ sellers. We have no issue with supply at the moment. We are also participating in tradeshows, key events & building an online presence to create brand awareness.
We have also been working with various trade bodies both in India and North America and different high commissions and trade commissions across the United States and Canada. We are exploring our links with the Canadian and United States governments to get us accreditation as these accreditations go a long way in building trust and credibility.
6. What is your vision and your future plan?
The long-term vision of Bluerickshaw is to help the small manufacturers, weavers, and artisans of India expand in the international market without having to make investments in promotion or travel while enabling retailers across North America to create an inventory-free model to sell directly to their customers without having to invest in purchasing minimum orders.
1. We want to build our own SAAS-based virtual show with end-to-end buying for retailers which gives an opportunity to thousands of small sellers to showcase their products without having to travel.
2. We also want to create a B2C channel where retailers in North America work on an inventory-less model while still making their sales.