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NEW DELHI: India could have 228 million native social commerce consumers by the end of 2022, a 45% jump from the current user base, as shoppers discover newer ways of buying goods online such as through YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram, as per a report by Recogn.

The report by Recogn, WATConsult’s research division, tracked consumer sentiment and attitude towards social commerce usage.

The report defines social commerce as shopping done or brands discovered via social media platforms such WhatsApp, Instagram, Roposo, among others. It does not include re-selling or video selling platforms such as Trell and Meesho which have proliferated currently. 

There are 157 million social commerce shoppers, accounting for 53% of total online shoppers in India, as per the report by WATConsult, part of Dentsu’s digital agency Isobar Company.

In India, Google-backed video platform YouTube leads as a platform used for social commerce followed by Meta-owned WhatsApp and then Facebook. Younger shoppers in India prefer to shop on Instagram and Facebook, while older customers prefer to shop on Facebook and WhatsApp. Social commerce users are very likely to make online purchases from ShareChat in the future, according to the report.

 Over 58% shopper surveyed said they are comfortable spending time and shopping on these platforms.

Users are drawn to such platforms because recommendations and comments help them with purchasing decisions. Affordable prices and the ability to shop on the platform itself rather than switching to other e-commerce apps or websites are the other positives, the report said.

The report listed mobile and tablet accessories as the most purchased products on social commerce platforms, followed by fashion and accessories, electronics and appliances, beauty and grooming products, and sports, fitness and outdoor products.

“Social media and e-commerce are paving strong inroads in the regular Indian Internet users’ daily routine. Since the shopping environment on social media has ripened, there is huge potential to drive sales through these platforms," Heeru Dingra, CEO, Isobar India group said.

India’s swelling smartphone population as well as cheap data is helping consumers log online and get everything from affordable cosmetics to groceries on-demand. This could have significant implications for businesses as shoppers easily discover newer brands online, make repeat purchases and get swayed by consumer reviews.

Smaller retailers are already leveraging such platforms, the report said.

For instance, social media platforms were the “go-to places" for smaller retailers in India to promote and sell products and services during the pandemic. These sellers are now able to sell to first-time online buyers. Small retailers prefer social commerce due to the reach of social media platforms and their ability to connect directly with customers, it said.

The pandemic has accelerated the growth of the e-commerce industry, and social commerce has emerged as a favored model as it helps taps audiences beyond top metros, the report said.

“The major reasons behind the increase in social commerce are the abilities of social media platforms to have several buying and selling groups, as well as messaging, video sharing and photo-sharing features that make online socializing and shopping highly compatible," it added.

Meanwhile, companies have also been adding a host of features to enable brands to sell online, and for shoppers to discover goods online. Platforms are adding live-streaming features as well as enabling shoppers to buy goods on their platform.

YouTube recently introduced the Holiday “Stream and Shop" in the US allowing creators to host shoppable livestreams. TikTok has also been upping investments in e-commerce.

“Shopping was, is and will always be social. Platforms, behaviour and mediums will keep evolving while more and more people will go online to shop," said Sahil Shah, Managing Partner, WATConsult.

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