Mumbai based e-commerce Megastores is a company that aims to empower Indian artisans & to safeguard the customs and traditions through modern e-commerce. It is a market place specialized in selling authentic handicraft products; where artisans and producers can sell directly to the customers both in India and abroad.
We’ve read enough on how E-commerce has facilitated an easy trend of buying and selling online, providing scope for enhanced opportunities in the sector. But now, even Indian custom-made products, traditional accessories and apparel have been made available online! The changing demands for customer choices have further enhanced availability of diverse products in the online segment which can be available for any consumer, just at the click of a button
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The platform was founded by Mr. Kailash Tulsi Gajara hailing from Kutch, Gujrat. Mr. Kailash is an M.S in Computer Science from University of Southern California, Los Angles and also was the president of Indian Student Community at the University in LA.
According to Gajara, Indian handicrafts have their own stories to tell, but now are on the verge of extinction. And so, he has made the effort to document these stories; to foster the lives of Indian traditional communities and the rich heritage of India.
The platform acts as a facilitator to artisans and craftsmen who can sell their products online and aims to empower small scale and marginalized businessmen. The platform presents businesses and craftsmen with an opportunity to grow their businesses and standout in the global market.
Further, it showcases the spirit of traditional Indian communities by presenting the story of each product being sold, of each merchant and, the inspiration behind every product brought before the consumers on their platform. (Talk about providing a personal touch!)
Tradition, Technology and Training
The company makes sure that all the artisans are tech equipped enough – as it empowers them to sell their products online efficiently. The company’s team looks after tasks like product photography, cataloguing and product description to help the artisans build their brand and get credit for their artwork.
The Megastore team personally visits artisans and weaving communities and documents their stories and also checks the authenticity of both the artisans and the art.
Every product on the platform is directly sold by the artisans with their stories scripted by the company’s team. Customers thus not only get to know the artworks but the story of artisans behind it.
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How do they do it?
Since no mediators are involved in selling the products, the products are available at a modest price. Megastores brings together a range of collaborations to empower artisans and small-scale communities including NGOs, companies and the government via single facilitating platform.
The problem at hand…
For the past 30 years, more than 2 million artisans have quit their artwork owing to the fact that it does not yield much income. The average salary of an artisan despite all his efforts is often less than INR 5000 but in rural India, handloom is the second largest employer only after agriculture.
These artisans can’t tell their own stories and cannot afford the money involved in marketing. Often, they open stores in exhibitions but do not make much money and often lose their respective identity.
Further, consumers always find it tough to buy authentic art. They are often duped by the local traders and made to buy machine goods in the name of handicrafts….
Over and above these problems, one of the critical challenges faced by the Megastores is servicing the remotest pin codes of the country. Convincing artisans to make use of technology for digitally marketing their products is a critical challenge to face….
Combatting the issues…
To address these gaps, the startup has set trust-points, the nearest pick up and drop places that are easily accessible to both the artisans and courier partner. Further, knowledge regarding technology was induced through constant workshops to make sure artisans are equipped with all the technical knowledge that is required.
The current traction of the stores is indeed a milestone according to the founders. The one thing that sets apart Megastores from its competitors is being artisan centric. The stores work directly with the artisans on the ground, ensuring an authentic buy to the customer at fair prices.
At present, Megastores charges only 8% as commission in sales from the artisans, while all the listing and cataloguing services are free. For government organisations, NGOs, and brands they charge up to 20% for the service and also for cataloguing.
The Way Forward
Megastores has met around 350+ artisans, visited around 50 villages across four states onboarding around 250 artisans with 50+ crafts… that have resulted in more than 4500 authentic products that are now available online!
The company now aims to start international shipping in a couple of months and with better collaborations, they plan to increase their sales.
With big plans ahead, let’s do our bit to help them out. Here’s your chance!
Check out Megastores here – https://www.megastores.com/
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