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India urges Alibaba to help exporters market their products online

India is in talks with China’s leading e-commerce firm to help domestic garment exporters market their products online and educate them about payment gateways, security and privacy issues. With Alibaba’s help, India’s garment exporters will be able to promote, design and customise their products online as per clients’ needs and get assured payment, officials informed. The idea behind the intended partnership is to deliver end-to-end solutions for exporters especially the smaller ones who can’t keep huge inventory, they said.

In this regard, the Apparel Export Promotion Council, India’s nodal agency for promoting business between exporters and buyers, has held four to five rounds of discussion with the Jack Ma founded company so far. It’s not only that, the Council said that it was open to talks with other players also. If the deal comes through, small exporters in India will be able to market and sell their products to companies in other countries since sellers on are typically manufacturers and distributors.

Promoting small exporters is high on the government agenda because 79 per cent of India’s garment exporters have revenue of less than Rs 10 crore ($1.47 mn) per annum. The council may also seek its online partner’s guidance for managing logistics in the future, officials said.

Although there are more than 8,000 garment exporters registered with the council, less than 100 use online platforms to promote and sell their goods. Exporters need to also explore the e-commerce method of doing business and not limit themselves to face-to-face interactions, the officials observed.

According to industry experts, climatic changes and fast moving fashion trends have made buying patterns unpredictable. Hence, online presence will enable year-round buying and faster delivery for manufacturers and exporters. The entire process of design to delivery, which used to take up to three months in 2004, has now been crunched to 30-35 days and can be further reduced if online platforms are used, they said.

In 2015-16, India exported readymade garments worth $17 billion. The industry has seen fluctuations in the past six years due to global economic uncertainty and loss of competiveness to emerging economies in the region, especially China and Bangladesh. Shipments to the European Union, the top destination for India’s garment exports, fell 5.5 per cent in 2015-16 from the previous year.