Top import export business ideas for sellers in India

Starting an import or export business undoubtedly increases your global reach and profits. Learn more about top import-export business ideas, products and steps involved in this blog.
import export business ideas
As the world becomes more interconnected each day, opportunities for exporters and more variety in terms of selection for customers and importers are increasing. We are no longer in a time when you are restricted to buying products within your region. Today, a customer shopping in Chicago, the US, can place an order for a Made in India home décor product via e-commerce platforms.

Thus, starting an import-export business undoubtedly increases your reach and profits. However, it is important to analyze market conditions, compliance, logistics and choose the right product to be exported from India. It is important to understand what kind of products are in demand and the investment required.

Why start an export business in India in 2023?

Did you know that merchandise exports from India touched an all-time high of $447.46 billion, with 6.03% in FY 2022-231? With the growing exports, there has been a significant improvement in the ease of doing export business in India, including paperless transactions and online documents. Apart from the regular export products, Indian exporters are also increasingly selling textiles, spices, Ayurveda and herbal beauty, etc.

With e-commerce exports programs like Amazon Global Selling, access to set up an online store, list and sell products to millions of customers has become easy and simple, providing more opportunities for global expansion.

List of top export business ideas

You can select an export business idea depending on your area of interest, available resources and target market. Here are some of the top import-export business ideas in India:

1. Textile

India is one of the leading exporters of textile and apparel products worldwide, known for its aesthetic prints, high quality textiles and a range of products – formal, casual, athletic, ethnic, etc. Some of the top marketplaces for textile from India include the UK, the USA, Japan, Canada, the UAE, and Singapore. The Government of India has also launched several schemes and Export Promotion Councils like WWEPC, AEPC, and TEXPROCIL to support textile exporters.
textile export

2. Footwear

Similar to apparel, even footwear has several segments like formal, casual wear, sports, etc. The established value chain in the country can help you source products at competitive prices and sell them in the international marketplaces without investing a sizable sum in manufacturing and setting up a business.

3. Spices

India is one of the largest producers and exporters of spices in the world. From turmeric export to cumin and cardamom export, Indian exporters are increasingly selling spices in the international markets like the USA, Canada, Australia, and the Middle East. You need to analyze the demand for various spices in popular markets and find a product-market fit that works for your business. Post that, you can establish a spice export business in India.
spice export

4. Tea

India is the second-largest producer and one of the top exporters of tea globally5. Various geographical indications (GI tags) are granted to Indian teas like Darjeeling Tea, Kangra Tea, Assam tea, etc. India contributes close to 10% of the world’s tea exports and varieties like Assam, Darjeeling, and Nilgiri are considered among the best in the world6. Many startups, brands and sellers across the globe have identified the popularity and demand, and have been successfully running a tea export business. Closer home, Bala Sarda started Vahdam Teas with the same passion to serve Indian chai to global customers. “By infusing innovative technology and eliminating unnecessary middlemen from our sourcing process, we want to revolutionize the way the world drinks tea,” the founder of the New Delhi-based brand says.
tea export

5. Gems and jewellery

Gems and jewellery are strong contributors to the overall exports from India. Contributing 12% to India’s exports, the gems and jewellery sector has attractive growth opportunities for Indian exporters7. India is known for its artistic creativity in jewellery designs and cuts across the globe. Owing to its rich heritage and culture, the country has a varied range of jewellery types that are popular in the international markets like kundan, copper, silver, gold and ivory, among others. Did you know that India is ranked first in cut and polished diamonds and silver jewellery exports across the globe8? India exports gems and jewellery to popular markets like the US, the UAE, and Singapore, among others. You can select a segment based on the resources available and establish a gem and jewellery export business in India.

6. Leather

With leather being one of the highest growing export industries in India, thousands of sellers from the country are exporting leather products across the world. From Tamil Nadu and Telangana to West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir, leather products are manufactured and exported in huge quantities from across the country9. Finished leather products in footwear, clothing, furniture and accessories are some of the top categories.
leather export from India
Identifying the increasing leather exports, Rajasthan’s Hussain Gurana started 'A Jaald Store' – a leather export business from India and made his dreams come true. With chic and compact leather products including hand bags, luggage, satchels and journals, this Indian brand is one of the torchbearers of self-sustenance and strong entrepreneurial spirit. “The growth of A Jaald Store has been phenomenal, and we continue to evolve as a leather brand. We are excited to explore several new markets in many more countries with Amazon Global Selling in the future,” Hussain shares.

7. Sports goods

India has established its presence as one of the leading sports goods exporters in the world. Products like exercise equipment, inflatable balls, equipment for sports like boxing, cricket and tennis are some of the top categories. Toys like board games, educational or soft toys are some of the products that are in demand in international markets. Did you know that India contributes INR 5,000-6,000 crores in global toy exports10?

8. Home

India’s handmade handicraft goods are favourite among customers globally. A variety of home products including handicrafts, woodware, metalware, pottery, glassware and kitchen textiles are exported from India. With a strong base in markets like the USA, the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and the UAE, Indian exporters can make the most of this demand and establish their export business in home décor.

9. Ayurvedic products

There has been a significant increase in the popularity of Indian Ayurvedic products. In FY23, India exported ayurvedic and herbal goods worth approximately $628 million12.

10. Cosmetic and beauty products

India's beauty and cosmetics exports have gradually increased in the recent years. India sold cosmetics worth $2.93 billion in 2022, an increase from $2.5 billion in 2021. The fragrances, cosmetics, and men's grooming categories are anticipated to develop at a CAGR of 12–16%13.

How to start an export business in India?

Starting an export business in India is fairly simple. You can follow the steps below to start an export business in India:
Step 1:
Register your business
Step 2: Obtain a Permanent Account Number (PAN)
Step 3: Open a current bank account
Step 4: Obtain Importer Exporter Code (IEC) number from the DGFT
Step 5: Obtain Registration Cum Membership Certificate (RCMC) of the respective export promotion council
Step 6: Select the right products and target marketplace
Step 7: Find customers or importers
Step 8: Finalize pricing and obtain all necessary documents
Step 9: Ship goods and receive payments

Documents required to start an import export business in India

Some of the documents required to start an export business from India are:

Bill of lading/ Airway bill
Commercial invoice/ Packing list
Shipping bill
● Terminal handling receipt
Importer of Record (IoR)
● Certificate of Inspection (if required)

Amazon Global Selling: Your passport to easy e-commerce exports

As an e-commerce exports program, Amazon Global Selling enables Indian sellers and MSMEs to take their products from India to international marketplaces across 200+ countries and territories in a seamless and easy manner. Without having to set up a physical store or warehouse abroad, Amazon’s simple registration process and hassle-free logistics support helps you reach global customers. Here’s the export procedure for selling via e-commerce:

Register your business

First, you must register your export business with Amazon Global Selling. You don’t have to be an existing Amazon India seller. The registration can be done online on Seller Central in 15 minutes. You’ll need the following documents to register:
• ID proof (Aadhar, driving license or passport)
• Business address proof (Bank statement)
• Credit or debit card (international-transactions enabled)
Amazon seller registration

List your products

Once you have successfully registered to sell globally on Amazon, you can list your products. Remember to follow tips on how to list your products include attractive pictures and descriptions that’s clear to international customers. You can also seek help from third party service providers.
How to list your products on Amazon

Ship and receive payments

Once a customer places an order, you can choose to deliver by yourself or you can opt for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Under FBA, Amazon takes care of shipping, delivery, returns and customer concerns. Once a customer purchases your product, Amazon credits the money in your bank account in the currency of your choice.
Amazon FBA

Frequently Asked Questions

Is an export business profitable in India?
Yes, it is profitable to start an export business in India. You can choose an import-export business idea and expand your business through Amazon Global Selling across international marketplaces.
How can I start my own export business?
You can start your export business in just a few easy steps. Register your business, obtain PAN and IEC, open a current bank account and set up your product manufacturing or sourcing mechanism. Post this; you can register with Amazon Global Selling and export your products internationally.
Which product is in demand for export?
Various products like textile, tea, coffee, spices, jewellery, toys, leather, Ayurveda and beauty are in demand for exports from India.
What are the documents required to start an import or export business from India?
To start an export business in India, IEC, AD code, Importer of Record (IoR) and GST are mandatory. Along with these, document requirements can also depend on the product category, the destination country and the mode of international shipping.
Which products are exported the most from India?
Top products contributing to India’s exports include engineering goods, gems and jewellery, footwear, apparel, spices and other raw materials.
What are the documents required to start an import export business from India?
Some of the documents required to start an import export business from India are a bill of lading, commercial invoice/ packing list, shipping bills, importer of record, letter of undertaking, and certificate of inspection (if required).
Published on July 28, 2022.


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