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Social Commerce: Ecosystems For Effective Buyer Seller Transactions

The recent developments in the social commerce landscape suggest that its market is rapidly growing and the platforms are being well received by the users

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Many times it has happened that you have bought a product and you are not happy with what you have received since it is not consistent with what was stated in the description. To prevent any such mishap in the future, you read reviews thoroughly on the website and see what other users of the product are saying about it, say on YouTube. So, but this is time-consuming and still, you are not fully sure. One of the features of social commerce platforms is to eradicate this time lag and doubt by providing quick side-by-side reviews say from a trusted influencer or from a member of your community who has purchased the product, for better confidence in buying the product. This experience is the main value proposition of social commerce platforms.    

Not a new concept, though a fairly accelerated one recently, social commerce is a platform which integrates the functionality of social media and e-commerce platform. Recently, the social commerce platform Mall91 (app) was announced as #1 most voted app by users choice out of 6900+ apps submitted at the Aatmnirbhar Bharat App Innovation challenge commenced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Also, e-commerce giant Flipkart with its independent platform 2GUD had recently forayed into social commerce, providing features such as video shopping experience by influences to the customers. Currently available on its app, 2GUD states it will further expand this feature to its m-site and website. All this suggests the rapidly increasing prominence of social commerce platforms.   

However, the question boils that what sort of transactional benefits these social commerce platforms offer?  

The social e-commerce platform Shopmatic strongly states that the platform makes ‘it extremely easy for anyone to sell online’. Anurag Avula, Co-Founder and CEO, Shopmatic says: “We enable the entire ecosystems for anyone to sell online so that the merchant does not have to worry about any aspect that appears tedious, complex or complicated for her.”  

Specifically, Shopmatic has two pricing plans. The transaction model allows to set up a Shopmatic store by paying just Rs 50 per month towards hosting fees plus 3 per cent as transaction charges per sale. The Subscription model which is the most cost-effective lets you use the platform for 1000 rupees per month for a 12-month plan and no transaction charges per sale. The platform allows the merchants can sell via their web-stores plus sell via social and chat, which are also integrated into the platform.   

Similarly, Facebook-backed social commerce platform Meesho is building a distribution channel via social selling on Whatsapp, Facebook, and other social media platforms. Reportedly, the company has enabled over 15,000 suppliers and two million resellers to start and grow their online business.

Mall 91, on the other hand, has a direct B2C e-commerce marketplace in a community commerce model. The firm brings sellers on the platform and gives them volumes due to the community strategy. Buyers buy from the sellers directly at group discounts. The company then charges sellers commission per sale, listing fees, and logistics fees. 

Additionally, it is important to mention the social commerce platforms have a cost-effective customer acquisition strategy. Nitin Raj Gupta, Co-Founder & CEO, Mall91 stated: “We spend 0$ on Facebook/Google or other digital marketing tactics. Our users primarily come from Word of mouth and referrals. We have very unique gamified strategies inbuilt inside the app, which incentivizes users at various action points of bringing their friends/family on our platform.” Reportedly, the Mall91 app has seen 15M+ downloads in five months.  

New Role of Video Advertising and Engagement 

E-commerce players are increasingly recognizing the importance of using more aggressive forms of engagement with the customers such as through video engagement. For instance, in the case of Flipkart’s 2GUD, the consumers are exposed to a feed of videos made by a hand-picked influencer network across various topics and categories. The influencers curate their favorite products as part of their collection in the virtual store, allowing consumers to witness their styling journeys across categories.  

As a matter of fact, Amazon and Walmart have been advertising on premier websites via video advertising platforms like VDO.AI, which uses artificial intelligence functionalities for better engagement. 

Amitt Sharma, Founder & CEO, VDO.AI informs: “We enable them to reach users across the Internet via our video platform programmatically. Currently, we have over a thousand customers on the publishers’ site and works with many leading brands both in Silicon Valley and India, including Airbnb, Uber, Netflix.”  

Also, due to the pandemic, the importance of social media presence and management has increased manifold because of the increase in screen time of the people. Consequently, the role of social commerce platforms is only going to increase as time passes. However, according to one report, being only about 15 – 20 percent of the current retail market, social commerce is a development in the process. Social commerce companies are figuring out what best suits for their platform that can involve maximum customer acquisition and thus maximum engagement that can be converted into dollars and cents. Hence, undeniably, a lot of developments are in order in the social commerce market.