Home Furnishings in India : How to Find an Exporter,manufacturer or Supplier ? Beyond a Database.

Looking for a manufacturer or supplier of home furnishings in India ?

Don't know where to begin? Want to find a source but at a loss for resources? Want to do business in India, but unsure what is the best way to go about it?

This article attempts to answer some of these questions.

Firstly,unless you have a link in India, you will find it a difficult task to sift through the information available on the Internet. There are various sites that provide a directory of manufacturers and exporters in India. These sites have a database of exporters, manufacturers, suppliers and agents dealing in home furnishings. Not exhaustive and certainly not comprehensive, but it's a good place to start.

One disadvantage is going through all the databases. Largely, in the directories of manufacturers and exporters in India, the paid listings are not the bigger companies, because the latter do not feel the need to have a paid listing. If the site with the database also offers website design and hosting services, then the listings that come on top are usually the ones they got business from. Many of the resource sites are similar and even have the same information base.

So, what would be the best way to find someone a source?

I have tried to outline below some of the methods you could use to get more information.

1. Find a consultant based in India. You would need to pay such a consultant for their services, but it would be well worth your while. They would also do market research for you at a nominal cost. They need not be your buying agents, you could still deal with manufacturers in India directly, but they would be a useful link to have.

2. Ask for specific information, giving details of products you are interested in. No matter how small your quantities, you will find a supplier in India, who is willing to deal with you. In fact, if you have a niche market, the chances of finding someone reliable to do business with in India are even better. If you are just generally looking for suppliers of home furnishings based in India, you will get absolutely nowhere.

3. Send a few pictures of the kind of products that would be of interest to you. Without a visual, it is difficult to communicate. Posting trade leads with pictures is useful, although it is doubtful how many of those companies have an employee regularly visit the sites that carry their listing. My guess is, it would probably be ones based in remote towns where there is no other way to access information.

4. Once you have found a few suppliers for what you need, assess if they are willing to come and meet you personally. If the manufacturer finds you to be a potential client (and this is important), they will not hesitate to travel across the world to meet you. The kind of manufacturer you will find is likely to be determined by the volume/quality of business you are likely to give.

5. Assuming you are uncomfortable dealing with faceless companies based in India, consider the fact that most manufacturers and suppliers in India are equally uncomfortable dealing with someone they do not know or understand. If you make the effort to communicate with them, they will usually respond with the same enthusiasm. The ones that are more likely to be useful will not send you an email that looks like a mass-marketing mailer.

6. If you need samples, and you want to deal with a good company, you would need to pay them for it. A better way would be to ask for digital pictures or a CD. At any given point of time, a fabricator based in India has at least five requests a day for samples. Every single potential client promises big business.

7. The best way to assess the credibility of a potential supplier is to start small. That way you will know what their limitations are, and they will also be able to assess if they can do business with you. Even a cursory glance at the communications that keep going back and forth will give you an idea of what kind of a company you are dealing with.

8. Try to exchange information that would be useful to your supplier in India. If you can help them with information that you have access to in your country, they will go out of their way to help you find someone even if they do not manufacture the products you want. It builds trust, helps business, does not cost anything and does no one any harm. It could however, prove to be extremely beneficial. In pure commercial terms. To both parties.

9. To understand a fragmented market, the first step is to work in fragments that will create the whole. Keywords commonly used to find manufacturers from India-that will probably get you absolutely nowhere in terms of relevance and drag you into a cyber jungle that will leave you more confused than anything else?. "furnishings India, exporters home furnishings India, manufacturers bedspreads India, decorative pillows India, table linen manufacturers India, suppliers fabrics India, wholesale distributors, handicraft, embroidered textiles,"

The list goes on and on. The reason is simple. It is an organized chaos. But chaos nevertheless.

10. If you have the time and the resources, you could perhaps find what you want in one of these databases. If not, and you are still looking to do business in India, find a link in India. A link you can build a relationship with. Business is all about relationships. Especially small business. The home furnishings industry in India is still relatively small business.

Rekha I Nambiar is an interior designer based in New Delhi,India. She runs her own business in interiors,furniture and furnishings.

Her work may be viewed at http://www.id-home-furnishings.com

Her blog is http://www.20six.co.uk/furnishinghub

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