Bat Trang pottery village undergoes renovations in the Industry 4.0 era

Monday, 2019-02-25 11:33:42
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Artisan Vuong The Cuong working on a pottery pig sculpture
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NDO – In the era of international integration and the fourth Industrial Revolution (also known as Industry 4.0), the handshake between craft villagers, businesses and technological experts has helped to improve product quality and expand the market for Bat Trang pottery products.

Tough challenges facing craftsmen

Artisan Vuong The Cuong said that over the past four years, for the occasion of Tet (lunar New Year) festival, he and other craftsmen in Bat Trang gathered together for the production of pottery products in shape of the zodiac sign of the New Year. It might take them several months to complete the production as every step must be carried out carefully from sketching design, making mould, to choose proper material and glaze. Not to mention the detailed and strict requirements from customers when they made the order, Cuong said.

Cuong admitted that the most challenging obstacle for Bat Trang and other craft villages in general is how to find the market for their business ideas. It is a result of the lack of proper investments in exploring customers’ liking and diversifying product’s designs, making Vietnamese craft products less attractive than those made with the support of modern technologies in other countries in the region. Therefore, it is difficult for Vietnamese products to get access to potential markets such as Europe and the US.

Sharing the same view, Pham Dat, who was born in a family with three consecutive generations making pottery in Bat Trang, said that in the past, the design and making of new products were slow in pace because of the lack of market information and huge challenges from counterfeit and fake goods. Thus, the villagers used to focus their operations on following customers’ orders rather than fostering innovations in production.

According to Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Craft Villages, Luu Duy Dan, the above obstacles have remained not only in Bat Trang but also many other traditional craft villages across the country. Most of production facilities and households in such villages are not yet well-organised in their operation and have not made full attention to updating customers’ demand and market trends.

In the era of international integration and Industry 4.0, it is crucial for Vietnamese craft villages to stimulate innovations in production technology and products’ designs at competitive prices, while fostering ecommerce in order to expand their markets and win the interest of customers at home and abroad.

It is also necessary to establish a strict scheme on controlling and registering the trademark and product designs to protect the artisan copyrights.

Project facilitates breakthroughs for the fame of Bat Trang

Visitors admiring Bat Trang pottery products on display at the Group 1102's exhibition centre

To address such challenges, the Project 1102 was launched as an initiative of the Hanoi Cultural Fund with an aim to provide support for Bat Trang craftsmen in getting access to the market and the designs and pricing of their products.

The project helps to develop a system of marketing, branding and sales solutions based on communication and e-commerce networks in order to introduce and promote high-end Bat Trang pottery products to the community.

By getting involved in the project, artisans and production facilities receive parts of or full access to digital marketing solutions, have opportunity to speak directly with customers and investors, showcase their products at an online museum, and seek trade deals, announced Nguyen Trung Thanh, Chairman cum general director of Group 1102.

An assessment council, consisting of veteran artisans and experts, was set up to select high-end and exclusive Bat Trang pottery items before placing them online on the project’s ecommerce platform. The selected items should be produced by traditional methods while conveying authentic Vietnamese cultural and spiritual values.

A centre for market research, customer taste analysis, and sample designs was also established to help producers keep up with the changing market trends and customer preferences.

In addition, the 1102 group have worked with functional agencies to boost the use of technology in the prevention and control of counterfeiting, fake and untraceable goods, thus protecting the brand of Bat Trang pottery.

By digitalising Bat Trang products on the internet, the project targets 10% the country’s handicrafts market, which is estimated at around US$500 million).

Most recently, the Bat Trang Family Mart was inaugurated in the centre of Bat Trang village, marking it the first one in the chain of 300 stores to be launched nationwide to bring authentic Bat Trang pottery products to customers and facilitate the export of Bat Trang products to the world market. As scheduled, the chain will increase online sales on the world's leading e-commerce websites, such as Amazon or Alibaba.

It can be said that by embracing a range of drastic IT-based measures and a sound marketing campaign, the project has contributed to lifting the quality and promoting the brand of Bat Trang products, spreading the fame of Bat Trang to domestic and international markets while tightening the linkage among businesses, artisans and craft villages.