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From responses collected 10th May – 10th June 2010:
Although so far no one has identified with it, a small number confessed to wishing to be more like the “carpet type”. The rest of the answers swayed between those who are, or aspire to be, the “fabric type” and those admitting to be very much anti – and, therefore, not comfortable with selling.

Street seller

I’d really like to know how you go about increasing sales of your products and services. Feel free to add your comments or email me:

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11. May 2010 · Categories: Marion on a Mission, Market · Tags:

Bangalore’s Furniture Fair happened last weekend. As this year is one without the Salone, I was terribly curious to find out what this event was about. And this, it turned out, was about half of the work…

As I arrive, I see people squeezing big sofas in their small cars and carrying folding aluminium picnic tables under their arms.

After paying the entrance ticket (Rs 40) and refusing to leave my details in the lucky draw box, I made my way into the cool stadium hall… and entered the very special world of Indian furniture.

It is the perfect place if you want to find:

  • large wooden-framed, sculpted sofas with glittering upholstery – note that a swing version of this item is available, but you’d probably need an elephant to carry the frame
  • glass topped coffee tables which allow you to peer through their surface and admire a dancing elephant or a muscular male wearing only a turban and not much else
  • water features
  • fish tanks that glow in the dark
  • decorative plastic swords
  • plastic Diwali lights

and many many more things that you didn’t know existed… it is all very overwhelming.

The furniture on display is mostly imported from Asian countries like Malaysia or Hong Kong. Finding outdoor furniture is difficult in Bangalore and I was surprised to see several modern ranges.

The best slogan on show was “Italian style, Chinese price, proudly Indian”.

And no Indian show would be complete without the vegetable-chopping-widget-demo-stand. There were certainly many of them hidden behind mounds of vegetable peelings – my final memorable sight as I left.

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A sea of carpets

When I visited the International Carpet Expo in Delhi and the Furniture Fair in Bangalore the atmosphere was similar to that of any busy commercial street in India. Sellers call passers by from their stand and, as soon as their wares are shown the slightest interest, the stall holder erupts into frenzied animation to convince you to look at everything on offer.

The selling techniques at TexStyle India are quite different. If you show a prolonged interest, someone comes to talk to you softly so as to easily engage a conversation, their aim to evaluate what kind of prospect they are talking to.

The carpet-type will try to sell you something by the time you leave. The textile-type will have collected enough information and attached it to your business card to know what information to send you after the event.

At any event where selling is involved, whether exhibitors are young design entrepreneurs or hardcore business men, they will try their best to provide you with as much information as they can and make sure you leave with their business card at least. If you are not particularly interested, they will talk to you anyway.

Based on this, I distinguish 3 sales profiles, knowing that the 3rd one is rare in India:

  • the carpet-type: anyone is a potential buyer from the moment they come into (long distance) sight, aggressive style, talk a lot, listen a bit. Good to shift high volumes of things that are appealing (carpet) or easy to sell (soap).
  • the textile-type: how much, what, and why would this potential customer buy? Tend to be inquisitive, communicative and will offer you what you want. Good to build long term relationships with customers.
  • the anti-type: not happy to be here. Won’t talk unless being talked to, not intrusive or irritating, will pick up business cards to add to the mailing list. Will keep the conversation going with the most interesting people.

Personally, I’m a mix of the textile and anti-types, depending on how I feel and if I’m promoting myself (anti-type) or someone else (textile-type).

What are you? Take the quiz

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There are some very interesting companies showing at Tex Style India 2010. Definitely a key event for companies seeking production of home furnishing products. Besides the usual items found in the average Indian souvenir shop or Emporium, everything textile can be made in India especially in the Panipat District.

Natural, organic, synthetic and mixed fibres, traditional and modern processes are all here from yarn to the final packaged product.

Business attitudes are quite open-minded and meet generally accepted international standards.

  • Copyright is respected
  • Minimum orders can be catered for in some instances, ie: larger and more complex pieces can be manufactured in dozens
  • Lead time: up to 15 days for sampling, 60 days for a first order
  • A diverse technology; some companies can provide both hand and machine made pieces
  • Business models are transparent and include artisan workers’ co-operatives, engineer-led textile companies and family businesses, amongst others

I was very sensitive to the ability of these business owners to take the time to explain how their manufacturing company works, how they enjoy collaborating with smaller companies, their understanding of and supply to European design brands and that they can be wary of buying agents.

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I am wondering when handbags “made in India” will take over “made in Italy”. Yes, it’s not a myth. There are many large brands who manufacture in India but don’t publicise it. The quality is good. Many Indian companies are BSCI certified and are willing to open their doors to their clients. One company director told me that having this certification is the only way for a leather goods manufacturer to survive on the international market.

I’ve seen very modern looking bags with a great level of fine detailing. Many suppliers offer a wide array of technology to transform leather and source skins hailing from India to Brazil or Italy.

Interestingly many won’t supply to the Indian market directly, local taste is different. Ironically, the richest probably buy from European brands who discretly manufacture in India.

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I’m off to the region of leather work. I will also be looking at homeware, textiles and rugs.

I am both curious and excited to attend my first trade fair in India. After Kolkata, I am heading to New Delhi then Agra which, besides being the home of the Taj Mahal, is the centre of quality leather slippers and leather footware making.

real green fake grass

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