In a bid to get more sellers on their website, Flipkart, the country's largest e-retailer, is set to launch a project to get Indian weavers on board starting with Varanasi, the parliament constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The initiative, called 'Flipkart Kaarigar ka Dwaar,' in partnership with the central government, will kick off in Varanasi two weeks from now, with 50 of the city's 40,000 weavers. On Wednesday, Flipkart brought NIFT students on board to design for these weavers.
According to NDTV, the company will set up a cluster or collection centre in the city, where the weavers will interact with the designers and also where they will deposit their products, which will then be transported to Flipkart's warehouses and from there, delivered to the buyers' homes.
The company's Head of Corporate Joy Bandekar said the choice of pilot city is a "mere coincidence" and has nothing to do with Varanasi's VIP status as the PM's constituency. He also delinks today's announcement from Mr Modi's government finishing 100 days in office.
'This is a mere coincidence and there is no political reason behind Varanasi as the first choice,' he said.
Flipkart says it will provide the weavers with an online marketing platform, infrastructural support in data analytics and customer acquisition to help them get remunerative prices for their products and scale up their business. The company has emphasised the lack of middlemen, for years the bane of weavers and artisans who have been unable to sell their product directly
For the company, it is an effort to widen its seller base or the number of vendors who sell on the platform. In the hotly contested e-commerce space, it is now fighting a tough battle with the other two giants - global player Amazon and Snapdeal, to grab the biggest share of the country's 30 million small and medium enterprises in India.
Flipkart's current seller base is just over 3,000 and it has an ambitious plan to take that number to 50,000 over the next year. Snapdeal has a seller base of 50,000 and Amazon, 9,000.
The company made headlines last month when founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal announced that they had raised $1 billion (6000 crore rupees) from global investors. Only a day later, Amazon said it would invest an additional $2 billion "to support its rapid growth and continue to enhance the customer and seller experience in India."