From Google webpage to e-commerce: The digital ambitions of a Channapatna craftsman
Suhel Parvez set up a Google Business webpage four years ago and now has completely done away with middlemen in his business and directly deals with customers.
An obscure little Channapatna toy-maker in the Ramanagara District of Karnataka now has e-commerce ambitions thanks to creating a Google Business Website four years ago against the wishes of his family.
Suhel Parvez belongs to a family of Channapatna toy makers whose legacy dates back to 1782. The family business which goes by the name Bharat Arts and Crafts has been very traditional in its outreach initiatives. Parvez tells exchange4media that the family used middle-men and agents to acquire customers and sell products because that was the only option available to them.
But four years ago Parvez decided to explore the burgeoning World Wide Web and set up a Google Website for his business. “Prior to doing this, I had no exposure to the Internet and digital. I took over the family business after completing my graduation and wanted to do something to help grow the business,” he says.
At first, Parvez was very anxious about how everything would turn out. Firstly, because his family was not supportive of his efforts and assumed it would all be a huge waste of time, and second “I did not know how expensive this would end up being.”
Luckily for Parvez, soon after creating a website with photos of the products, a contact number, and a link to a map to help people find the shop easily, his father started getting calls from prospective customers. Footfalls to the store also saw a dramatic rise after Parvez added the listing of Bharat Arts and Crafts on Google Maps.
He says that prior to adding his listing on Google Maps customers would struggle to find his shop and many would abandon their search for Bharat Arts and Crafts. “Now that I have my listing online I receive at least 4-5 customers per day. In fact, people come to drop in on their way to Coorg or Mysore from Bangalore without even giving us a call to ask for our exact location.”
“When we saw the efforts bear fruit, our confidence in ourselves and our business grew and I was confident that I could pull off digital initiatives for my business,” says Parvez. “We have achieved enough momentum to give competition to Chinese products,” he adds.
Now that he sells directly to the consumer, Parvez says the price at which he sells to consumers has dropped because he has been able to bypass the middleman. He has transferred the benefit of cutting out middlemen to his customers. The other benefit of having an online avatar is that now Parvez also gets bulk orders for corporate gifts.
While Parvez worked on creating the site himself, he got some timely tips from Google he says. “They gave me some very simple and effective guidance on positioning my business online.”
Not just has business improved for Parvez, but designers from the city are now more open to working with his team of craftsmen because of the online presence of Bharat Arts and Crafts.
Eventually, Parvez’s worry that digital would be expensive was proven to be false. Now Parvez feels that craftsmen should use digital tools to expand their horizons. “There are many such Indian handicrafts that people are not aware of. If other handicraft makers like us also use digital then we will be able to revive and rescue some dying arts.”
After successfully setting up a webpage and a Maps listing, Parvez wants to take the business to the next level by setting up e-commerce operations.
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