FOSS United for IHMC

India Handmade Collective (IHMC) is working on sustainable farming as well as clothing and have networks across the country and is looking for support with respect to tech as well as operations. They are looking for as their current development team is unable to support anymore.

In response to that, FOSS United (joined by @Anand @Sreeharsha_Thanneeru and @WishArya) met the IHMC team to understand their problem better.

MoM from the first call:

  • IHMC was formed to solve the issues faced by the weaving and spinning community (which is around 15 lacs) due to the pandemic. This has led to massive amounts of stockpiling of Khaddar/Khadi products and, they are struggling to sell them to the customers.

  • Indiahandmadecollective.com, e-commerce, a multi-vendor website was developed to solve that and it is not helping them. They want to extend the usage and add more features to that platform. Better SEO is also something they are looking for.

  • They are not finding much support with the current tech team and they are just doing it like any other ecommerce sites and that also they are having various issues from payment gateways functioning to others which they have made a list of. We have asked him to share the list which they have collated so that we could understand the gaps.

  • They also wanted our inputs w.r.t understanding the current tech involved and suggest if we could take it forward and a few volunteers could support the same code base or if it needs to be redesigned from scratch. For which we would need to understand different options and suggest.

  • They were also looking at how they can differentiate themselves from the big players out there and were welcome for ideas on the same from UX Design to process flow.

  • They also shared that they have gone online with very few of the partners they have listed and unable to still reach out to others because many other issues like for e.g. they are not having volunteers to click and upload photos on the website. If this process could be made more easier and current backend more usable for Village people with basic computer or phone skills, I see more adoption of it.

  • Definitely they would need more guidance w.r.t SEO and marketing which would help them to get a few regular footfall, and given their broad network base they could try to reach out to wider networks for organic growth too.

  • Given the Pandemic showing not much signs of seizing to stop, this would become very important for many individual weavers or local businesses to collectivise and sustain the storm and hence the need for support.

Moved the above MoM shared by @Sreeharsha_Thanneeru and @WishArya on our telegram group

Post-meeting, few FOSS United volunteers joined a call (on 09-06-2021) to discuss what can be done on our end to help them, joined by @Sreeharsha_Thanneeru, Satyakam, Sanketh, Shivam, @Anand and @WishArya

Here is the MoM from that call:

  • This is not one organisation’s problem.
  • Tech/Framework they use is a big barrier to manage and implement. (Currently, they use https://www.spurtcommerce.com/).
  • Apart from the tech, selling their products is also challenging.
  • Projects like HFN Mandi might help.
  • Platforms like Gliffic, Meesho might help to market their products on the instant messaging apps.
  • Google Ad Grants can be looked upon.
  • There has to be a parallel team that is working on a marketplace framework and run the marketplace cooperative, a separate organization might be needed for a project of this size.
  • It’s still unclear that how can we help them.

Below are the list of issues shared by Indian Hand Made Collective team on May 31st which were discussed within the Volunteer team on the call on 9th June:

:fast_forward: We recently found payment issues where a gift card is not applied or bills above the coupon amounts were not deducted from customers.

:fast_forward:Product Images get deleted from website.

:fast_forward:Customers many times are not able open a particular product they are interested in

:fast_forward:Orders sometimes gets missed from getting notified to vendors

:fast_forward:Inhouse team unable to do sufficient modifications to an existing product

:fast_forward:Inside website items are not easily searchable with common search words

:fast_forward:Sometimes order numbers skips the sequence, so we get doubts if any order placed got missed which we were unable to trace

:fast_forward:Image quality is not satisfactory. Always uploaded image quality is lower than original image

:fast_forward:Search filters are not retained. That makes mutiple modifications very tedious for updating team as we have to reapply the filter terms.

:fast_forward:Similarly filters and required information are not retrievable from reports

:fast_forward:Not able to get accurate information from Order status filter.

:fast_forward:We needed colour variation and more options for size variations , which they are bot able to effectively guide us through.

:fast_forward:If customers identify a product of their interest in the main page and click it, it takes them to some other product (product mismatch)

:fast_forward:SKU code for each product is not identified during search. Instead it takes product name which may be overlapping with many other products. Hence specific search leads to wrong product

:fast_forward:Whenever we need to do bulk uploads we weren’t given proper tŕaining. Whatever suggestions we were given by developer team were not working effectively.

:fast_forward:Questions and answers exchanged for a product between customers and the selling vendor is not reflected in the website. It only goes as a mail

:fast_forward:We do not have an effective feedback alert system for a sale.

:fast_forward:We do not give flashy discounts. We rarely give offers when there is a product surplus or end a batch sale. So we wanted an alternative method of announcing a rarely available offer. We suggested new methods of such announcements. They could not effectively give a practical solution.

:fast_forward:No back buttons. So any search the customer does and wants to go back to the previous page it directly takes to main page. So search must be done again

All this point to one thing. Ease of navigation for the customer is not good enough.

Also, any modifications to be done by the inhouse team is very tedious.

We asked for better clickable icons and additional features to existing website like more blogs and videos provisions. They have not provided us.

So we could not get support in keeping the page dynamic.