Big traders hire online experts as Benares silk goes digital to stay afloat

Some of the larger silk traders in the city have even hired the services of online marketing experts to learn the tricks of the trade
Lack of export orders, few customers and a dull market scenario has increased the dependence of Varanasi's silk traders on digital tools. To arrest the fall in the business due to the Covid-19 crisis and extended lockdown, they have begun using e-commerce websites, social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to sell their products and keep the trade alive.

Some of the larger silk traders in the city have even hired the services of online marketing experts to learn the tricks of the trade. According to them, the Covid crisis will not end in the coming few months and under these circumstances, going online is the only way to survive. Many prominent silk traders in Varanasi have already been using e-commerce sites such as flipkart, amazon and mantra to promote sales, but now almost everyone has hopped on to the bandwagon.

According to Rajat Mohan Pathak, a noted silk exporter in Varanasi, sales of Benarasi saree on WhatsApp have risen these days. Even retailers from other cities have been enquiring, selecting stock on WhatsApp and placing orders. He said very few silk traders were earlier in the online business but now the situation has changed and practically everyone is going for it.

Pathak said that a lot of silk traders have started appointing dedicated managers for the online sales segment. Besides, at many establishments, a separate online desk has been created where the products are displayed on social media and online platforms. Orders are also being booked on these online desks. He said that besides sarees, the online sale of dupattas, cushion covers, table mats and other silk items is increasing these days.

Silk traders in Varanasi feel that the annual turnover of Rs 2,000 crore will shrink by 30 per cent this year due to Covid. Since this downward trend is likely to continue, online is the best way to survive. Rajat said that online sale of silk items has increased ten fold since the lockdown and traders hope it will continue.



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