Online textile industry can deliver next unicorns

The online textile industry has turned the crisis into an opportunity. As retail sales were off bounds due to the lockdown, the online market has flourished.

By Anuj Mundra

Did anyone ever think even in the wildest of dreams that one day the coronavirus will arrive in India, that too all the way from China, and change the existing things to such a great extent that it will impact our daily life? Everything has changed in the post-COVID-19 era – our work from the office is now work from home, our travel and tourism are reducing to new lows, our meetings are now mostly virtual, events have gone online. But there is a silver lining as well: many people, sectors, and industries have turned the crisis into an opportunity. One such sector is the textile industry.

The Indian textiles and apparel industry contributed 2.3% to India’s GDP, 13% to industrial production, and 12% to export earnings (as of March 22, 2021). Moreover, exports of readymade garments (of all textiles) were worth USD 1.04 billion (as of November 2020).

Many textile industry experts have predicted that the trend of increased sales in the online textile industry will continue to persist in future as well.

Turning crisis into opportunity

The crisis situation has provided a big opportunity for the online textile industry. The sales in the online textile industry witnessed a jump in various cities and states of India during the lockdown.

It goes without saying that cloth is one of the basic needs of mankind. It is nothing less than any essential commodity, and that’s why even during the lockdown online textile industry witnessed a boom in sales. The lockdown failed to leave any negative impact on the online textile industry because of its operations in the virtual space leaving no room for human or physical contact to further spread coronavirus in the country. The online textile industry even registered an increasing trend in sales due to no dependency on the offline industry, for example, wholesalers, semi-wholesalers, retailers, and middle persons.

The next unicorns in new-age India

With such an increasing and upward trend being witnessed in the online textile industry, retailers with a presence on the internet have a big possibility to become the unicorns (that is, a company with a value of over USD 1 billion) of new-age India.

When the lockdown was imposed, it was the summer season, and people did their summer-related purchases online as retail shops were not allowed to open. With all these developments in place, businesses of the online retail industry also witnessed a spike in revenue sheets.

The online textile industry has all the valid reasons to give birth to new unicorns in India. During the lockdown, shopping was taking place through the online route and most of the customers were happy with the online experience. Right from choosing items to trying them, even the return policies created a win-win situation for shoppers on the internet as customers felt very comfortable purchasing their stuff online. It has been predicted by many textile industry experts that the trend of increased sales in the online textile industry will continue to persist in the future as well. And, hence, the birth of online retailer unicorns is imminent.

Textile e-retailers: The game-changers of 2021

In 2021, e-retailers will prove to be a big game-changer by playing a pivotal role in the recovery of the Indian economy. When the economy shows green shoots, the future of the online textile industry looks promising in the wake of increased domestic consumption after a lockdown in addition to export demand playing an important role.

Even the government has made it clear that the textile sector is one of the key focus areas of new policies being framed to achieve the target of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy. The government in its budget 2021-22 proposed a scheme for setting up mega textile parks to make the textile industry in India globally competitive. The initiative is also aimed to attract large investments and boost employment generation through the creation of world-class infrastructure.

Seven mega textile parks will be established over three years as part of the scheme. They will have integrated facilities and a quick turnaround time for minimising transportation losses, eyeing big-ticket investments in the sector. Now, with such a massive level of production in the textile sector due to the unprecedented boost by the government, e-retailers are going to be the biggest beneficiary of these developments. Online shoppers have already tasted the convenience, trust, and comfort of shopping on the internet and will continue to enjoy and avail benefits in the future as well. And, e-retailers will emerge as the biggest winners in this entire success journey of the online textile industry.

The budget proposed a scheme to set up seven mega textile parks to enable the textile industry to become globally competitive and attract large investments.

Role of technology and trends

Technology can play the role of big brother in reviving, rejuvenating, and reinvigorating the Indian textile industry. Undoubtedly, tech support is vital to any sector but when it comes to textile, it becomes even more important due to the integral role of machines right from sourcing raw material to giving final shape to the products that eventually consumers are going to get.

Further, our textile industry is expected to witness some new trends in the future – increased demand for natural fibers and shifting focus towards non-woven fabrics to name a few.

The Indian textiles industry’s potential

The Indian textiles industry has immense potential to register an indelible mark while contributing to the growth and success story of the nation, but the sector needs more support from the government in the form of policy initiatives and a crackdown on red-tapism involved in availing schemes meant for the textile industry.

The government has decided to rationalise the duties on raw material inputs. But more export promotion policies are required for the textiles sector, like in the past when the government allowed 100% FDI in the sector under the automatic route.

The Indian textile industry is entering into a no-holds-barred phase where the sky is the limit, provided it gets robust support from the government in terms of policies, promotions, and incentives so that the domain can move up the ladder and chart its own course in the right direction.

The Indian textile industry is entering into a no-holds-barred phase where the sky is the limit, provided it gets a robust support from the government.





Mundra is Chairman & MD, Nandani Creation Limited

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