The social commerce space, which has so far seen deep-pocketed entrants like Facebook and Instagram testing waters, is seeing a slew of start-ups making their mark in their respective niche spaces. A case in point is Clip Wiser Technologies, a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) shopping platform that capitalises on one of the most potent means of selling: word of mouth. Recently, it launched an app to connect users with e-commerce websites along with their friends, family, relatives and social groups. The underlying idea is to enable users make better decisions while buying online; the app lets users to consult people in their social circle who further give their recommendations and suggestions.
Roposo, another social commerce platform, focused on fashion recently launched an innovative chat-to-buy feature to enable smaller sellers sell via chat, in addition to WhatsApp which consumers were already using to connect with the sellers and finish transactions on the platform. Roposo has a community of bloggers, influencers and sellers. It has 4,000 small sellers active on Roposo. And 10% of them have chat to buy feature.
Mayank Bhangadia, co-founder and CEO, Roposo, says, “Sellers can connect with buyers on WhatsApp too on our platform. But the chat-to-buy feature makes the process seamless. These are niche, small-scale sellers who prefer using social media channels to sell their products rather than listing themselves on giant e-commerce sites.”
Roposo claims its versatility as a platform gives it an edge over traditional networking platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger. The platform’s innovative features such as in-chat smart cards ease the communication between sellers and buyers. “The chat-to-buy feature will now complete the loop of leads, transactions, and engagement by enabling purchases through the platform itself with just a few clicks,” says Bhangadia.
Unlike Faceboook and Instagram, Roposo is a fashion centric platform with specific solutions for sellers to make it easy for them to do their business. It is also working on seller rating, seller review to enable customer make better decision. Roposo also has tie-ups with marketplaces and works as an affiliate marketer.
What sets these social commerce players apart from their marketplace peers is that e-commerce marketplaces are about merchandising, great price, discounts etc. “It is not possible to be a commerce player and have an equally strong social layer. Just having a share button is not social commerce. We are about infotainment, engagement and style guides which leads to more sessions per user,” adds Bhangadia.
Experts say when it comes monetisation, in addition to affiliate marketing, these social commerce platforms can look at brand advertising to monetise user footfalls and selling services to sellers. For example, Roposo, apart from making money from affiliate marketing and getting commissions from marketplaces, also monetises the chat to buy feature. “Brands are approaching us for influencer marketing. We are in the process of launching a platform where brands will be able to connect with influencers for their social reach and will work as a revenue stream for us,” says Bhangadia. Roposo has a million plus active users and total app downloads have been at three million.
Further making a case of their revenue model, Ajay Gupta, member, Indian Angel Network (IAN), and investor in instant advice portal Styledotme, says, “There is a need to be advised especially in fashion and lifestyle category, whether through family members, friends and experts. For example, fashion portal Styledotme is about instant advice. That’s where there is a potential of revenue. It is not generic social platform and that is its USP.”
Fashion app Styledotme has been selected by Facebook for its FbStart programme and have also received a new funding commitment from IAN. “Fashion is an unstructured category. The lack of touch and feel inhibit users from trying new things. How many ecommerce platform are actually giving advice and guiding users. People need to know if product fulfils their need,” adds Gupta.
The rise of mobile-led commerce favours contextual and social-led experiences. To tap into the true power of social media, companies need to get their customers do the marketing for them. “People trust the opinion of a friend more than any business messaging. Every consumer is now a potential marketer. Currently the approach on how brands use social media is not up to to the mark. They follow the B2C (business-to-consumer) messaging paradigm. But social is not about B2C but C2C (consumer to consumer),” says Dheeraj Parashar, founder, Clip Wiser.