5 Tips for Effective India Sourcing

India is fast emerging as an alternative sourcing destination for global Amazon, e-commerce sellers, and other Importers. The country manufacturers a range of unique products that enable sellers to build differentiated private label brands.

Here are some tips and advice for Importers, Amazon / E-Commerce Sellers looking to source from India.

Source the right product categories
  • Source products that India specializes in and are very strong in. Some examples are home décor, gifts, kitchen & tableware made from metal, wood, ceramic, marble, cotton, jute, and glass.
  • Furniture & furnishings like rugs, cushion covers, and textiles & apparel including cotton, silk, denim, and wool are good categories to the source.
  • India suppliers also produce a range of eco-friendly products such as organic cotton, biodegradable disposable dinnerware, fashion items made from plant-based materials, and the like.
  • Other categories are leather, sporting goods, jewelry, fashion accessories and footwear, tea, coffee, spices, and superfoods.
  • Goods India is not strong in are electronics, and products made from plastics and silicone.
Highlight Supplier Backstories to differentiate
  • Many products are handcrafted by artisans who specialize in certain skills that have been handed down through generations.
  • India has a lot of social enterprises or co-operatives that employ many women from villages for products such as macrame, crochet, basket weaving, etc. 
  • These backstories can add value to your product marketing with videos or images of the products being made in the villages. This is a great way to differentiate your products and stand out. There is also the opportunity to donate a percentage of each sale back to the community or a charity.
Choose Export – Focused Suppliers
  • Ensure that the supplier you choose is export-focused and not just producing goods for the domestic market.
  • Check that they are a legitimate factory and actually a manufacturer.
  • Use export-focused supplier directories like Alibaba or Global Sources to look for suppliers.
  • IndiaMart is not recommended as it mainly focuses on the domestic market.
  • EPCH (Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts) hosts the Delhi Fair twice yearly where you can be guaranteed that all exhibitors are export-focused and have high-quality goods.
  • Supplier websites do not show a lot of their products as they try very hard to protect their designs, but you can ask for a catalog.
  • India Sourcing Network vets’ suppliers to ensure they have export experience. It also has several vetted sourcing agents who specialize in different materials and products.
  • You can Google GST + supplier name to get their GST number then go to https://services.gst.gov.in/services/searchtp and check the nature of business and if GST filing is up to date.
  • You could also consider using an inspection company to audit the factory for you prior to placing orders to provide a detailed report on them.
Focus on Supplier Capabilities
  • Focus on the supplier’s capabilities to make sure they have the experience and expertise to produce the product you’re looking to source.
  • Also, ensure they are of the right size to meet your order requirements. If you are just starting and have small orders, a very large company might not want to cater to you, and vice versa.
  • Check their website to see if they give details of the size of premises and the number of staff in the organization. Also, check how long have they been in operation.
  • Ask what product categories they make in-house and which they outsource. Check what type of equipment and facilities they have in the factory.
Manage Lead Times
  • Lead times vary and generally wooden and metal products take between 8-12 weeks but some textile products and can be a lot less.
  • Be mindful of the longer lead times when sourcing for certain products from India and plan your orders in advance. Planning and continual communication are key.
  • There can be some delays with the monsoon season so ensure you allow a buffer at this time of the year.
  • India does not have a shutdown like Chinese New Year, but they tend to have more 3-day weekends for cultural festivals, and this depends on the religion and area in the country.
  • Ask your supplier of any closures that may affect the timing of your order.

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Margaret Jolly
Margaret Jolly

Margaret is co-founder of India Sourcing Network, and a successful Amazon seller, giving her first-hand knowledge of the daily challenges faced by online sellers.

Together with her partner, Kevin, she has been actively buying products from India for over four years. She is also a coach on India Sourcing Trip and offers one-on-one coaching to other sellers.

After years of owning and managing many different businesses, Margaret became a mentor to small businesses and more recently, e-commerce sellers. She understands one of the most important business fundamentals is making sure you can make a reasonable profit.

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