Before you read ahead, I want to inform you that I am not an ecommerce expert nor can I predict whether it is the next bubble. For that we have many experts in India.
I am a person who would prefer that one day everything should be digital in India. I know it is a futuristic thought and poor infrastructure in our country is the biggest roadblock towards this future. But, saying that I prefer to shop online mainly for two reasons:
- Ease of shopping from home.
- You get good discounted rates without any effort.
However, I have always felt that the ecommerce companies could improvise upon the user’s buying experience. Not only by providing a smooth shopping experience but also by engaging the customer for a longer duration. Now how can this happen?
Let’s think of a situation where a buyer comes to your portal and starts hunting for the required product. He finds it, decides, shops and leaves. As an ecommerce company, you have made your sale but have you indulged him into more shopping? An ecommerce company would debate that they have shown other similar products that may be liked by the customer. But it is very likely that the customer may not like those items so she won’t care to have a look.
But what if an ecommerce company shows you products that match your interest? Wouldn’t that be nice! In today’s social times, the trick is not only about connecting your social profiles but also about providing a platform to customers where they could engage more with other customers and also provide products matching her interests.
Shopo, a Chennai based ecommerce company is working on the same principles of social discovery and has integrated it’s website with Facebook. A smart move by Shopo since it is driving the conversations from the social platforms to its website. Once you connect your Facebook account, a similar profile is also created on the website. The profile created on the website is interesting and does more than just listing your personal details. The profile tracks all your activities and lists them in your profile, along with that you can build your network too. Besides this, the profile will also highlight your favorite shops and your wish list as shown in the below screenshot. Definitely Shopo has bought some more time of the user on it’s website. However, wouldn’t it be interesting if my friends who are online grant my wish list?
Badhai.in an online e-voucher company gives your friends an opportunity to make your wish list a reality. Badhai.in has enabled “Group Gifting” by integrating Facebook to it’s website. So now, either you along with your friends can jointly buy vouchers and make someone happy or your friends can send you a surprise on your birthday. Wouldn’t this idea create wonders for Shopo or any other ecommerce company, where friends can join together and you can redeem that voucher against the wish list you have created?
Wishberry.in, a Mumbai based startup is also working on the same lines of making your wish come true. However Wishberry goes one step further and has also incorporated activities like fund raising where people can crowdsource funds and support a cause.
But then, are we exploring the social quotient to the maximum?
Definitely there has been an interest towards the social aspect by Indian ecommerce companies. However the social aspect is more than just growing the number of likes built upon senseless Facebook ads. Indian ecommerce needs to start brainstorming in the direction of Social Commerce. Creating a social media presence and providing discounts on Facebook should not be misunderstood as social commerce.
Last year I spoke to Mukund Mohan when he was running Jivity and he shared that India is nowhere close to Social Commerce. He also highlighted a possibility - wouldn’t it be a great if my favourite ecommerce company sends me a reminder that I have forgotten my dad’s birthday and provides me with a list of gift options, that could be my dad’s favourite, after a social approval from my cousins who are present on my Facebook, and then delivers the gift at my door step?
Last year, Walmart launched a similar social commerce initiative during the Christmas season. Walmart released a new social commerce app called Shopycat, which helped you discover gift ideas and suggestions for your friends and family so that you can get something that they’ll like. The app sourced friends’ profile interests on their page showcasing their information and based its suggestions on their interests. The idea was to resolve the hassles of gifting friends and families during the festive season. Can Flipkart, Ebay India, etc. innovate on this idea? In fact, last year Tesco also did an impressive ‘augmented reality’ campaign that meant to change the consumer’s shopping behavior. The technology employed enabled 3D viewing of their online catalogue where you almost hold the product in your hands. I don’t think I have seen such a campaign that brought me so close to an online product.
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Definitely it is futuristic but if Indian ecommerce companies want their consumers to remain hooked onto them, then only providing discounts won’t give you enough breathing space, Social Commerce will have to be embedded.
Do you think that it is the road ahead? Or are Indians not ready to share their shopping behaviour online?
P.S. This article has been revised to reflect that Mukund Mohan is no more associated with Jivity and the startup has been closed.
Slider image courtesy: transvideo.com