Overhauling the Traditional Wholesaler

Jigna Shah, Editor, Textile Value Chain

Wholesalers are one of the most important value chain contributors in India. A wholesaler is a middle man between the retailer and the manufacturer. These middle-men act as managers in the entire textile value chain. They grasp market information from retail market and provide valuable information to the manufacturers and build unique product information and provide it to retailers from the manufacturers.

Wholesalers have a different picture in India than in developed countries. In India, we have different clusters who present things differently with little or no synchronization in a de-centralized and unorganized market.

Let’s look at a small picture of an Indian wholesaler: older people handling ancestor’s business since years, fixed customers, old shops, monotonous business and the people handling the business lack computer skills and vision for future expansion. How do you like this picture?? This picture encompasses most of the wholesale market, Eg. Chandni Chowk in Delhi, Mulji Jetha Market (M.J. Market) in Mumbai (which is the largest textile market in Asia). Here, hardly any young and dynamic people are involved in this business. If this is the picture, is this industry really growing? Why isn’t the younger generation being involved in this business? Is all the excitement and challenge lost? Think about it..!!!

Very few people had visualized this picture a decade ago and have worked on it. It is surprising to know that wholesalers from small towns (2-tier and 3-tier cities) thought about it and have managed to completely change the picture by taking retail and international approach. Eg. Jalan Group’s Jalan Wholesale Bazaar, Varanasi. Recently Metro Cash and Carry was opened in Bhandup, Mumbai.  But this idea needs to be increased manifolds for a competitive structure.

Recently, in a wholesaler’s meeting, wholesalers shared their views regarding how their market can be improved through change in facilities and approach so they can become more professional, international and be upgraded as retailers.

Their views are summarized as below:

  • Space: Wholesalers should have bigger space than retail, as they need to carry more stock. Generally in western world, wholesale shops are situated away from city because they get huge spaces at cheaper rates and rents as compared to city areas. They expect and cater only to retailers as buyers who purchase huge quantities. Eg. Costco in USA.
  • Stock Display: Need to display full stock and keep adequate stock. Update and Monitor the stock with ERP system.
  • Self Service: Stock should be placed such that the customers can pickup conveniently.
  • Home Delivery: Hassle free, convenient delivery for large items.
  • Need to move out from market and meet customers for their wants and feedback.
  • Require variety and innovative ways in their approach.
  • Value added gifts, food, and entertainment to attract customers.
  • Previously wholesalers had no targets, but today’s market where FDI is opened; international players are looking upon India as world market. Wholesalers need to change their mind-set. They need to set targets as Yearly/ Quarterly/ Monthly/ Daily.
  • Proper Planning for Procurement and Marketing.
  • Regular Staff training and meetings to achieve competent staff. Hire competent, talented, task-oriented people rather than non-competent relatives and friends. Have a Professional approach for same and have perks for best salesman of the month/ year.

Wholesale business is risky but has a huge scope as wholesalers have the world open to explore as a market as compared to retailers (with minimal open market scope).  As someone had aptly said ‘Big risk Big Gain… No risk no gain…!!!’


Seminar in Infashion 2012 Trade Exhibition.

Pictures: https://indianbazaars.blogspot.in/2010/04/mulji-jetha-market-textile-bazaar-in.html