Top 3 Social eCommerce Platforms in India

Social commerce has evolved from being a mere networking space with friends and family to becoming a rising marketplace for digital retail. While it connects global citizens, it’s also a sprawling space for businesses to engage, connect, and grow their audience base. Utilizing this base to make instant sales with highly personalized targeted ads and influencer marketing tactics.

As brands started recognizing the power of social networking platforms for growing business, they introduced their shopping vertical. Enter Facebook Marketplace, where brands can list their products and gain shopping capabilities from the social network. Allowing their followers and other users to make purchases directly from the Facebook platform.

The Indian context

In India, many entrepreneurs have started their business journey using social networking platforms for sales. As social commerce evolved, entrepreneurs could enhance their customer’s shopping experience on social media. By incorporating features like a brand-specific look book on the app and allowing customers to checkout within the application without leaving. While many new social commerce tools are introduced globally, the Indian version of the social applications is waiting for these updates in shopping features. Irrespective, Indian brands are following a hybrid model, that is already bringing a rise in social commerce sales.

A report by KPMG, 2022, mentioned that in India social commerce is expected to grow at a staggering 31% CAGR, reaching $37 billion by 2025.

The hootsuite report, 2023, mentions the progressive growth of social commerce – Over 64% of Indian social media users have made purchases directly through social media platforms.

As India focuses on digital first across its cities, towns, and villages, the rise of social commerce is inevitable. Much of the content produced across social media platforms in India is coming from tier 2,3 + cities and rural areas where people are actively adopting social media.

Indian Brands Leading the Social Commerce Vertical

The following Indian brands have built a strong platform for connecting with tier 2+ cities and rural audiences, becoming leaders in social commerce in the country.

1. Meesho

Known as India’s leading social commerce brand, Meesha was founded in 2015 by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal. The brand was able to garner over 100 million users within a short span of a year. Thanks to its aggressive digital marketing efforts. The brand utilized social media platforms and influencer marketing to connect with its target audience. Data-driven in its approach, the brand made a 4x increase in its user base in 2020 alone.

Target audience:

The brand has a clear target audience that includes women who are homemakers and have a desire to start their businesses. Their buyer base is essentially value-seeking customers who can be categorized into first-time online shoppers, anyone seeking affordable deals, consumers from tier 2+ markets, and rural audiences.

Social media campaigns:

The brands utilized social media as a marketing tactic to widen their audience reach and lead in social commerce. Its leading social media campaigns include:

#LoonYaNaLoon – For the value-conscious buyer, bringing out affordability meets quality.

#MyStoryMyStory – For women homemakers seeking to start their small businesses

#ArreyWaah – For a diverse and new audience base using the excitement of IPL and cricket in the country.

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and X (formerly Twitter) are their primary social network for promoting their social media campaigns. Targeting specific user sets to maximize conversions. Offering vernacular content is the specialty of the brand, with content in over 7 languages. These platforms have regular updates on deals, offers, sale announcements, tips, and tricks for sellers to become successful on Meesho.

2. Shopsy

Shopsy is the Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart’s social commerce vertical. Designed and launched for smaller businesses, micro-entrepreneurial ventures, and businesses that seek to launch with zero investment. It was founded in 2021 with a zero-commission model for a price range of INR 150-699. Within the first 6 months, the brand launched its e-grocery services in 700 cities in India.

Target audience:

Value-conscious buyers in tier 2,3,4 cities and towns who come under the lower income category. Seeking to shop for value-for-money goods, effective prices, and a wide range to select from. Focused on grocery, fashion, clothing, and electronics.

Seller benefits:

Shopsy does not require the small business owner to have a professional photoshoot of products. It also allows them to register for selling without any trademark registration.

Marketing tactics:

In March 2022, the brand partnered with leading Bollywood star Sara Ali Khan as its brand ambassador. The aim is to promote its Shopsy App and enter the common man’s home using the power and influence of social personalities.

The brand also heavily relies on social media ad campaigns with a highly targeted user base across tier 2+ locations. The brand also highlights users’ ability to earn commission on product sharing and purchases in their community. With its wide and deep social media presence, the brand offers a different deal, discount, or offer to its user every day of the 365 days.

ForgeFusion shared in their article that by October 2023, the brand reached the $100 million mark with heavy marketing during festive sales.

3. Shop 101

Another leading social commerce platform in India is Shop101 started in 2016 by Abhinav Jain and Aditya Gupta. It markets itself as India’s most trusted reseller app. Offering their platform for manufacturers and producers to sell their products. A new entrepreneur can register on their platform in under two minutes.

The brand understands the challenges of small or local entrepreneurs in harnessing the power of technology and other tools. The brand offers them proper infrastructure and resources on Shop 101 to enhance their product outreach. Fostering entrepreneurship without any restrictions.

Target audience:

The brand focuses on homemakers and student entrepreneurs at large. Like Meesho and Shopsy, Shop 101 is hyper-focusing its efforts in Tier2,3 and 4 cities.

Marketing tactics:

The brand has a clear emphasis on digital tools that target and build hyper-personalized ad campaigns through social channels like WhatsApp, Instagram, and others. They use these digital tools to empower the small entrepreneurs on their platform to drive sales.

Shop101 offers its sellers a free training programme after the registration process. The brand has 1,00,000 plus products spread across 100+ categories and a user base that surpasses 2 crores.

Other key brands in the social commerce sector in India are:

a. Mall91, founded in 2018, won the Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge in the Business category.
b. BulBul, founded in 2018, is one of India’s first live video streaming app commerce brands.
c. SimSim, founded in 2019, allows sellers to sell directly via their video content platform.

Did you notice how most of the social commerce is focusing its efforts on Tier 2,3,4 cities and rural sectors of India?

This is due to the two-pronged steps that include the policy framework laid by the government and strategic investment and intervention by the private sector players to enhance digital connectivity in the country.

The brands are gaining wider acceptance and success due to a mindful data-driven approach, technology innovation tools, and vernacular content. This allows them to reach a diverse audience, have an inclusive approach, and stay ahead in the game with technology integration. As more brands jump on the social commerce bandwagon in India, the catalysts of success will be their strategic amalgamation of social media marketing, vernacular content, and defined target audience.

Stay tuned to learn more about the growing social commerce sector in India. If you wish to become an expert and lead one of these social commerce brands, join ESG India’s MBA in E-commerce, logistics, and supply chain management. Gain curious insights into the growing global economy in digital commerce with practical learning via industry projects and workshops. This programme will get you industry ready to lead the social commerce vertical across the fast-growing sectors.
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Author: Mankiran