Two hundred minutes. That’s the average time spent per day by mobile internet users and it’s expected that a whopping 370 million active social media users will be present in India by 2022. When such a massive number of internet users are taken over by social media, its little wonder that social commerce is evolving as the latest trend in retail sector, writes Shwetha Satyanarayan
“Can you model our products and share pictures on social media?” or “How can we improve to enhance your shopping experience?” were questions a retailer never asked his customers a few years ago, and customers never imagined their feedback could make any difference.
Cut short to 2018, customer feedbacks are captured even before the billing, and the popularity of a brand depends on reviews a customer types on his phone. When there are over 200 million active social media users in a country, a feedback often makes or breaks the deal. This new age conversation between the retailer and a customer is taking form as social commerce, a new-age retail trend.
So what is social commerce? It is often described as an extension of e-commerce that involves online media and encourages social interactions, feedbacks and user contributions.
According to millennial entrepreneur Namya Patel, founder of online fashion seller Enakshi, social commerce is a trend that's been on the rise for some time now, especially in the fashion industry.
“Social commerce makes ample sense for new-age fashion brands to use social media platforms to both actively engage with target audience as well as provide shoppers with a great online shopping experience. Brands that strongly believe in the power of personalisation and work hard to make customers feel special both through products, as well as through social communication channels, highly depend on social commerce,” she says.
For instance, Enakshi encourages its customers to model its products and share the images with them as the brand believes that the beauty of its products can be best showcased by the woman who owns it.
Namya further says, “We try to capture the whole experience of owning an Enakshi product by recording moments such as unwrapping the Enakshi package to customers modelling our apparel and then sharing it on our social media channels to ensure that every customer feels as special as they truly are.”
Globally, social commerce has been a well-established trend with sales worth $50 billion generated by using social networks alone last year. In India too, it is becoming a driving force for sales as brands receive feedback, first hand experiences, data generated through reviews and consumer behaviour, and recommendations.
According to a NASSCOM survey, fashion, consumer healthcare, baby products, food and beverage industry, financial services, beauty, personal care and women care are the key categories which are gaining prominence through social media.
It says, “In India, social commerce is anticipated to encourage enterprises to establish a robust social media presence to build social communities. This, in turn, could help firms harness the millennial population which is adopting social commerce as a channel or reference for online shopping.”
While social commerce acts as a platform to buyers and sellers for interacting and selling, social media has always been an influencer, says Shenaz Boopaji of Shopmatic.
“Ever since social media came into existence, it has been an influencer as people were constantly looking for reference points and social media served as that huge influencer. It is no surprise that new age customers look towards social media for guidance in their purchase decisions,” she says.
According to NASSCOM, India has 51 million registered small businesses, of which 32 per cent have online presence. With more companies going online, it only makes sense that social commerce holds strong prospects for these companies.
“Retailers have to adopt strategies to enter the customer mind frame, while he or she is on Social, but without posing a lot of interference. It’s all about presenting a product message at the right time- without directly interfering in the customer's me time,” suggests Shenaz.
It is said that referrals and trust factor on personal experiences and the ability to connect themselves with others in the online community remain as the key reasons for the growth of this mode of commerce.