Handicraft is a business of luxury items which are not primarily the necessities of life. In Pakistan, handicrafts market has seen tremendous growth in the last 10 to 15 years. The items which come under the umbrella of handicrafts are textiles, carpets/rugs and furniture. However, furniture shops are normally separate from handicrafts business. The main hub of the textile items is Sindh.Pakistan’s handicrafts have a remarkable business in other countries likeUK,U.S.A., andCanada. A number of Pakistanis are selling local handicrafts in those countries from different sources. The handicraft sales have tumbled considerably (up to 80%) in the wake of economic meltdown. Handicraft items are usually purchased as a luxury item for interior décor hence the buying power of people has shrunk in the present circumstances which resulted in the decreased sales in the industry. There are still a number of people who have the capacity to spend on luxury items because of high income levels but even they are a little cautious now when it comes to luxury items.
In order to step into this business, one has to work arduously in the beginning as the market has been captured by some already established players who have made potential customers and are doing extremely well. The business can be started from a meager investment of Rs. 5 lacs but then again hard work is the key to success. Renowned businessmen selling handicrafts in Islamabad and Karachi have been working since the last 30 years and are of the view that if a new entrepreneur ventures into this market, it will take him at least 10 years to fully establish his business. One has to go to a number of exhibitions and cultural events where they can market their products with their name. Establishing good relations with the customers is also very important to nurture customer loyalty and also for positive word of mouth.
Getting customers – markets
Cities like Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad and Peshawar have solid market for this business but Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi offer more favorable opportunities as compared to other cities. Karachi is known as the hub of handicrafts because of high sales in the region and also due to the presence of large number of exporters in the city who export handicraft items to foreign countries via port.
Lahore is also considered a favorable city for such business because of the lifestyle and high population of the city where people have the money to spend on such luxury items.Islamabad, on the other hand, has lesser number of local customers but since there is a huge concentration of government offices and embassies, the potential customers are the foreigners residing in the city. Foreigners, unlike local customers, tend to pay twice and sometimes thrice the actual price of the product because they are highly interested in the cultural heritage of Pakistan which is depicted in almost all the handicraft items. A businessman in Islamabad can target the foreign offices and all the foreign missions and embassies, and once they become your customers they can send your products abroad also.
Delivery from sindh – purchasing
The main hub of handicrafts in Pakistanis Sindh. Around 80% of handicrafts are being made in Sindh. People in Sindh are adept at making handicrafts. Nowadays large numbers of products are being made in Punjab also. Previously, only the government institutions accounted for the manufacturing of handicrafts but quite recently the private sector has followed the suit and in doing so has outdone the government in terms of production.
Most of the products from Sindh are delivered to Karachi and Lahore. A new businessman cannot go to Sindh for the purchase of handicrafts until or unless he has a proper setup in Sindh and has adequate links with the local manufacturers. You can purchase the items from Lahore and Karachi on wholesale rates. Once you have developed your name and customers in the market, then you can directly coordinate with the people in Sindh to order the customized products. The delivery of products is usually done through local transport of trucks,Pakistan post and TCS. The cheapest from all of these is the local transport of trucks. There are negligible chances of loss or damage to the products during transportation. There is a general perception in the market that the prices of handicrafts in Islamabad are higher than the rest of the cities. But actually there is a very minor difference in some products and some are even being sold on the same price.
You can make large number of profits in this business if you sell the products abroad. Pakistani handicrafts are considered highly valuable in western countries and the customers abroad are willing to pay any price for them. A number of people have setup their businesses in the local markets as well as in U.S.,Canada and European countries. In the absence of a proper setup, the products can be sold through a third party also. The profit margins are substantially higher in the foreign markets as compared to the local market. There are a large number of businessmen who have their own websites and are selling the handicrafts online. It is a very good home based business. If you are low on budget then the best option is to have an online shopping website and market that website on internet to get the customers from other countries. You have to gain the trust of the customers so that they know you are actually selling the mentioned products online. You can market your website on different discussion groups of other countries and specific sites. Moreover if you have any relative there then he can market your website on your behalf and you can also give commission to him on every sale. People are earning millions in Pakistan by just selling the handicrafts to other countries without any setup cost and just having a website of their own. They just have invested on the purchase of the products. The best profit margins received is in hand made carpets. Another best way of selling your products on internet is eBay. If you design your own website, you have to market that website from the scratch and it will take time to build a trust and relationship with your customers. But eBay is an already established and world’s largest online store. You can make an account on eBay and just put the pictures of your products in your account. Millions of people browse eBay every day and you can get customers easily. There is an option of bidding on eBay which helps in increasing the sale price of your products. The delivery charges are included in the price of the product and payments are made trough credit cards. There is a complete helping guide on www.ebay.com which guides you to have an online store with very little charges. Through eBay, you can earn profits more than the local shopkeepers in the market.
Declining trend in the industry
Unfortunately, the handicrafts industry in Pakistanis fast moving towards its demise. There are a number of underlying factors that accelerated the trend. An exhibition of the handicraft items is put together annually in Lok-Virsa Islamabad which is attended by a large number of people. But the attendance at such events has been decreasing which has left the artisans resentful. The artisans are of the view that low prices, lack of proper marketing and exhibition centers, the discouraging behavior of the bureaucracy and government departments, and the rising costs of raw materials were responsible for the decline of this once popular art form. Thus it is government’s responsibility to organize such events more often to keep this cultural heritage of Pakistana live for the times to come.