Two weeks ago the Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (CMSME) and members of the Northeast Chapter of the Fair Labor Organization (FLO) FICCI Ladies Organization were joined by the chief minister of Assam at a workshop in Guwahati that featured a presentation by Amazon India.
Amazon’s Global Selling (AGS) Program provides step-by-step education and convenient access to India-based businesses seeking to expand globally, explained Abhijit Kamra, head of AGS India. “We launched our Global Selling Program in India in 2015 with a few hundred sellers with the aim of helping Indian businesses take their ‘Made in India’ products across the globe,” he said.
There is immense untapped potential for women entrepreneurs with products to export, according to Amazon and government officials.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told attendees, “E-commerce has witnessed a remarkable boom in the last couple of years and has emerged as a great platform for exporters to get access to global customers in an efficient manner. I am proud to state that Assam is a key growth market for exports of handicrafts and home décor items, food products, health and personal care items and apparel to buyers across the globe. This workshop is aimed at helping exporters in Assam to widen their knowledge horizon and guide them to expand their customer base through e-commerce. We are happy to partner with Amazon to create awareness about the benefits of online selling amongst local manufactures and maximize our efforts towards giving impetus to exports from the region and promote women entrepreneurship.”
Amazon tracks product preferences of hundreds of millions of active customers across various ethnicities in 11 international marketplaces. Businesses of all sizes compete on equal footing with no product listing fees, no upfront costs for creating a website or setting up a physical store. Amazon provides a secure payments infrastructure, handles customer service and returns.
Coffee has seen a 15-times growth rate since 2015 and Nescafe Gold a 100-times growth. Sales of grocery and gourmet foods grew by three times, according to AGS.
To enable businesses to take Indian creations to the world, Amazon provides local enablement solutions through verified third party service providers. These initiatives include logistics partners, tax consultants and compliance experts to make the process of global selling smooth and friction-free.
Smallholders that band together to establish a brand, often find it difficult to market their product and get the best price, according to Dinesh Bihani, secretary of the Guwahati Tea Auction Buyers Association.
“Small growers do not have experience in marketing and branding. Hence, their teas many-a-times do not fetch the right price,” he said. While some are getting a good price at auction, “There is no capacity building, no technological support or marketing skills among most of the small growers. The big growers have advantages in these aspects and hence, their names are being flashed in this sector,” he added.
A review of the site (www.amazon.in) reveals several lesser-known tea brands in addition to market leaders Tata and Lipton. Wagh Bakri is a regional brand with several offerings. Glenburn Tea Estate and Vahdam teas, Sugandh Tea, Only Leaf, and Taj Mahal brands are on offer. The largely loose leaf teas are attractively packaged, some in sachets for gifting such as a Happy Elephant cranberry green tea blend. A 250-gram packet of Goodricke’s Castleton Vintage Darjeeling sells for INRs550 ($7.50) alongside everyday tea from Panchamrit Chai at INRs351 ($4.85) per kilogram.
“Our Global Selling program has witnessed huge interest from manufacturers of home décor and handicraft items, books, health and personal care as well as exporters of tea, rice, and apparel across the state,” said Amazon’s Kamra.
“The overall selection from Assam grew from 4,093 products in 2017 to 41,640 products in 2018 reflecting a growth of more than 900 percent year-over-year. We see huge potential for these small and medium scale enterprises across categories to scale up their exports business through global selling and will continue to support them through their online journey,” he said.