Chennaiites give a platform for online businesses

By Mohammed Rayaan Published on Jun 05, 2018 01:32 PM IST

Chennai: When you start an online business, it's difficult to stay afloat during the binary storms of competition. Despite the dozen bugles of marketing not many find success in reaching more customers. Also with startups, many do not have the luxury of owning outlets to showcase their products.

Enter Madras Souk, an event hosted by the Artisans Lab - a co-working space at Mylapore. Here, promising online businesses are given space for a day to display their products.

The organisers of the event, Mohamed Shariq (26) and Abdul Rahman Farooqui (30) shared their story to News Today.

"He lived right next to my grandmother's home at Indira Nagar," says Shariq, asserting that both grew up playing cricket together.

How it began

Abdul pursued his MBA in Australia, while Shariq completed his civil engineering. Abdul later returned to Chennai to start the 'Artisans Lab.' "It was my first interior project," says Shariq who designed and built his friend's co-working space.

It was Shariq who then pitched the idea of hosting events every Sunday at Artisans Lab. The co-working space soon went on to organise Chennai's first pet friendly concert.

The men agreed to start 'Madras Souk' - a one day event where upcoming online businesses can showcase their products at their place. "We search for people on Instagram who sell unique work and have engaging followers," they said in unison.

The duo scourge online, assess the quality of the products and also analyse the current fashion trends loved by the netizens of Chennai. While Shariq ropes in businesses, Abdul handles their social media accounts (@artisanslab). Entrepreneurs who participate also share it to their online followers.

When asked why people should become a part of the Madras Souk, they said, "Artisans Lab is located in a good place in Chennai and sure enough, several people come for the events."

They added that the first edition of Madras Souk saw a footfall of almost 500.

"Madras Souk has given us, budding entrepreneurs, a chance to display our products,' says Shahnaz Rukshana who runs The Hijab Company. 'They gave us a platform and encouraged our creative ideas and helped build confidence in our brands," she said.

For the upcoming Eid edition to be hosted on 10 June, some online businesses like The Hijab Company, Hello Gorgeous, Plushh by Prathi, Alankrit bags, Madras Trunks, Aarunya Studio, Ascot, Studio Aaina and Chennai's Food Hub, to name a few, have joined. They sell products from handbags to footwear, and clothing apparel to scarves.

Madras Souk has sure enough given opportunity for entrepreneurs to interact with customers and grow.

Why online biz is important
* Close to 329.1 million people are projected to buy goods and services online in India by 2020, meaning that about 70.7 per cent of internet users in India will have purchased products online by then.

* Retail e-commerce sales in India are forecast to grow tremendously, with projections to jump from around $16 billion in 2016 to just over $45 billion in 2021.

* The number of digital buyers in Asia Pacific is projected to pass the one billion mark for the first time in 2018, which will account for 60 per cent of all internet users in the region.

* In line with the regional growth, India shows optimistic projections for the industry. Current active e-commerce penetration in India stands only 28 per cent, with room for improvement. India's retail e-commerce CAGR is projected to reach 23 per cent from 2016 to 2021.


Why mobiles matter
Mobile is a profitable and promising shopping platform for the retail industry in India. About 23 per cent Indian internet users state that they used a mobile phone for making a purchase in 2016. This places India as one of the leading digital markets for mobile e-commerce penetration. About 27 per cent digital buyers in the country stated making an online purchase via their smartphones/mobile on a monthly basis, and 24 per cent stated purchasing online goods and services weekly.