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India is forecast to have 228 million native social commerce consumers by the end of 2022, a 45% jump from the current user base as more shoppers discover newer ways of buying goods online through social media apps like YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram.

A new report defines social commerce as shopping done or brands discovered via social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Roposo. It does not include re-selling or video-selling platforms such as Trell and Meesho which have proliferated currently. There are currently about 157 million social commerce shoppers, comprising 53% of total online shoppers in India, according to the report by WATConsult, part of Dentsu’s digital agency Isobar Company. The report tracked consumer sentiment and attitude towards social commerce usage.

Shopping pattern
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Shopping pattern

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% shoppers surveyed said they are comfortable spending time and shopping on these platforms.

Users are drawn to such platforms as the recommendations and comments help them in making their purchasing decisions. Moreover, affordable prices and the ability to shop on the platform itself instead of switching to other e-commerce apps or websites helps shoppers spend more time on such platforms, 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, chief executive officer, Isobar India group said.

India’s swelling smartphone population as well as cheap data is rapidly helping consumers log online and order everything from affordable cosmetics to groceries. This could have significant implications for businesses as shoppers easily discover newer brands online, make repeat purchases and get swayed by consumer reviews. Small retailers are already leveraging such platforms, the report said.

For instance, social media platforms are the “go-to places" for small retailers in India to promote and sell products and services during the pandemic. Small 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 the customers, it said.

The pandemic has accelerated growth of the e-commerce industry, and social commerce has emerged as a favoured model as it helps tap audiences beyond the 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.

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