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The Power of Social Media for Ecommerce in India

by Zotezo
December 28, 2018

Social commerce is all set to explode, globally! The most successful brands online have already discovered the power of social media for e-commerce for one very good reason:

It works.

The retail sector has always been at the cutting edge of change and innovation. It is not only product driven but also serves the ever-evolving needs and behaviours of consumers. Online shoppers are now actively searching for products and checking reviews on social networks first. Salesforce estimates that 75% of consumers conduct online research before buying something online. Clothing, textiles, and footwear continue to bag the most year-on-year growth in online sales, followed by department stores.

Thanks to a faster Internet and mobile firstness in India, online retail companies are rapidly shifting focus to using social channels. We hope this article helps you make sense of social shopping and trends. It gives you an understand the impact of social commerce and where to share your Zotezo online store.

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First, let’s rewind the clock a little to see what spurred it all:

The Internet of Things

Yahoo was first to come up with the term ‘social commerce’ in 2005, but it was not until 2010 when Facebook and Twitter saw more and more brands connect with real buyers. Since 2011, online retail has boomed and spurred the growth of social shopping.

The turning point for social commerce was in 2010. The Facebook store of Pampers was the first to achieve 1000 transactions per day. Disney also launched a group ticketing counter on Facebook. By 2016, Facebook launched “auto-fill” checkout, the buy button, messenger payments, shop button on business pages, group selling, and events ticket sales. Twitter and Tumblr were not far behind either with their own buy buttons.

Global online retail sales have doubled since 2014. Growth is estimated to reach 8.8% of total retail spending in 2018 compared to 7.4% in 2016, worldwide. Country-wise, UK and USA are the clear leaders, but the UK has the highest retail e-commerce sales as a percentage (17.4%) of all retail sales.

What about India?

The mobile revolution and e-commerce in India are changing the way the average Indian shops. In addition, India’s huge population and booming middle-class are driven by mobile phones and hi-speed internet. The consumer demands a fast mobile page load speed, especially for shopping apps.

However, India is a big but difficult nut to crack.

Indian retail industry is worth USD 490 billion, but the reality is most people in India still prefer traditional shopping where they can touch and feel the product. Other roadblocks are payment security, and most Indian internet users prefer shopping online in their mother tongue.

Now for the good news:

Many Indian and global investors are going online and turning to India, but why?

There were 1.66 billion people worldwide who bought something online in 2017.  By 2020, over 329 million people in India are expected to buy goods and services online.

Smartphone penetration and mobile internet access are exponentially increasing among the poor and small towns. Internet penetration is expected to reach 45% by 2020 with a whopping 520 million devices, as per an Ericsson report in 2013 when the penetration was just 10%.

Did you know?

India has the highest percentage of 'mobile-firstness'. In other words, we have the largest exclusive mobile audience in the world in 2018: This is the perfect recipe for booming social commerce.

Today, the online consumer is not only king, he is also Indian. He shops from the comfort of his home, during tea breaks at work and while commuting. Small stores and big businesses not only have to build attractive and user-friendly e-commerce websites with outstanding customer care and secure payment options but also a mobile app and an active social media presence. Therefore, to keep up with the competition, brands are finding new ways to do business online.

And the business of selling online is rapidly shifting focus to using popular social channels.

What is Social Commerce?

It is the ability to make a product purchase from a third-party company (or brand or individual) within a social media network. So if you search and browse products on Facebook and shop there instead of going to the company website, it is social shopping. Dominating the social commerce space right now are:

Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

The graph below shows the penetration of leading social networks in India in 2017 end. The most popular social networks, YouTube and Facebook, had 30% penetration rate each while WhatsApp ranked third with 28% reach:

Social Media Penetration Chart, End of 3rd Quarter of 2017.


What are the best social media networks for e-commerce?

Not all social networks are created equal. Before going social, a brand needs to know where their audience hangout is. To drive sales and increase ROI some platforms will work better than the rest, especially for niche e-commerce sites.

User-wise, let us look at the most popular social networks, right now:

Social Media Comparison Chart Average Monthly Users in Dec 2018

Social Media Comparison Chart: Average Monthly Users, Worldwide (December 2018).


Facebook is a behemoth. Not only does it lead in the number of users, but also the social commerce ad-targeting space. Facebook maybe boosting 50% of all social referrals and 64% of total social revenue.

But, you cannot ignore the other leading networks.

Content-wise, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest are the hottest social shopping networks. They are driven by high-quality images and interesting, informative videos.

Plus, Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for healthy lifestyle curation and brand development. Recently, their popularity has grown leaps and bounds in India. Besides Facebook, these social commerce platforms are useful for the small business owner, especially if your target audience is young, trendy and female. In 2018, Instagram made switching to a business profile easy for all. Whatsapp Groups and Facebook Marketplace are the only tools an individual seller needs to make the initial sales happen.

Pinterest buyable pins were open to all SMBs and so was their shopping cart since 2016.  Powered by amazing visuals and bloggers who share everything from whole food recipes, healthy smoothies, and fermented drinks, to a passion for fitness, health spas, home decor, and gardening.

The world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn is still considered by many to be the best social platform for business. The audience is mature; they are not looking for entertainment. It is great for building a global business circle and contacts. And LinkedIn was initially created for job-seekers and became popular years ahead of other networks – even Facebook!

Measure, analyze and experiment

The first step for a businessman needs to know is who your audience is and where the current demographic is. In other words, which social networks do your audience use the most?

You can get important insights by monitoring and measuring analytics across multiple social media platforms. After that, use this information to target your ads, increase traffic and engagement.

Take a little time to experiment with the top social shopping networks to figure out what works best for you and your products. Every industry demographic is different, and so is the social platforms they prefer. Let's compare them.

Here are the best social media networks in India for promoting an online store, depending on your demographics, type of content, call-to-action, advertising, and communication:

 Comparison Chart for Social Media Ecommerce in 2019

Comparison Chart for Social Media E-commerce in 2019

2019 Social Marketing Trends for Ecommerce

The top 500 U.S. retailers saw a 26% hike in revenue from social shopping alone in 2014 from the year before. Compare this to the 16% growth rate for eCommerce in the same period. Social commerce is still a baby learning to walk, but it's growing fast! This is why the small business cannot afford to ignore the impact of social shopping.

Here are nine trends explaining what is happening in social selling right now.

1. Mobile messaging apps

Messenger apps overtook social apps back in 2015. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are already potential goldmines of e-commerce sales opportunities in India. There is a whopping 1.3 billion-plus Facebook messenger users, worldwide. WeChat is also expected to cross 1 billion users in 2018.

We predict: As mobile shoppers exponentially increase with Internet penetration in tier II and tier III Indian cities, there will be more small businesses selling via messaging apps.

2. Video is priority

What has held companies back from making more videos? Mostly the lack of time, resources and also budget.

Not anymore.

Video content will be a top priority for 85% of businesses that plan to create more video content, compared to 68% images and 57% text. According to a BI report, 82% of all traffic will be video by 2021. This has spurred the need to discover and ride on the popularity of influential players by advertising on their social media channel.

According to another CISCO Systems report, mobile video is growing faster than TV across all digital platforms. YouTube is gobbling up more than half the video traffic, worldwide, despite Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter introducing some kind of video sharing and viewing. Live videos have not caught on fully yet, but there was a slight increase (5%) of brands using them on social media platforms like Facebook Live.

3. The rise of stories and carousel ads

Like smartphones, laptops and wearable tech, online customers are getting smarter day by day. So advertisers have to keep reinventing the way they attract new customers.

Last year, we saw a spike in carousel ads with very positive results. Social media platforms like Facebook enabled users to tell a story within a single post using multiple images. Brand followers can swipe through different products on a website in a single glance via Facebook and Instagram stories.

In 2017, Facebook is the most popular for paid ads and sponsored posts (94% of businesses used FB ads), followed by Instagram (44%), with LinkedIn and Twitter tied in third place (26%). They will continue to run targeted social media ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The reason: Cost-effective returns.

4. Influencers will talk

It comes as no surprise that influencers, however big or small, have made their mark on social media. Big and small influencers, who have made lucrative product tie-ins with brands, regularly post weekly or monthly product review videos.

Influencers on channels like YouTube have a unique power over their subscribers, who regularly engage with each other in real time. If even one video goes viral, there is no looking back for the brand and its influencer.

We predict: Influencers will drive sales in the future.

Essentially, there are 4 types of influencers to choose from:

  • -Social media experts
  • -Popular YouTube users
  • -Bloggers
  • -Celebrities and other famous people

5. Social commerce entrepreneurship

Social shopping has created a new trend. Entrepreneurs find it is easier to test the waters and promote new products using Facebook paid posts and Instagram ads. This drives faster awareness and product sales more than a new website or blog can.

Plus, it is way cheaper and less work!

6. Multichannel shopping

Although mobile is key, businesses need the support multiple devices. According to Google, 85% of online shoppers go to a different device from the one they started to complete a transaction. Hence, a website, product pages, blog content, and ads should be optimized for different screen sizes. It is a lot of work, so why do it?

It pays off.

Multichannel shoppers, worldwide spend over three times more than single-channel ones, so more and more brands are reaping the benefits.

7. Chatbot selling

Chatbots have a surprisingly high approval rating (73%) as a customer service funnel. They are fast with instant replies and have a ‘social feel’ making the customers feel valued. Brands can easily and inexpensively install one, so in-app and site chatbots are expected to grow in the future.

8. User-Generated Content & Engagement

If you have a popular product, word-of-(digital)-mouth is one of your most valuable assets.

When your customers create content that markets and advertises your brand, sales figures skyrocket!

92% of customers trust user-generated content (UGC) more than traditional marketing or direct sales. That means 9 out of 10 customers are buying online because a user said or wrote something good. This can be a positive review with a simple star-rating or a lengthy blog or a short video. UCG is any content that is not created by the seller or brand. The reason it is so effective is that people do not trust brands trying to sell, but the users. But UGC is the hardest and trickiest things to achieve. Yet, it is also the smartest move business owners can make.

For example, your brand can create a Look Book to create cool 'Looks' in beauty, fitness, and healthy cooking. They can be used as bait to leverage more user-generated content on social media. This popularity is fueled by young women on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest shares.

Why do social media, blog and product pages want more engagement?

Social media engagement by brand followers is the best way both small and large businesses measure their ROI on social advertising. It beats other indicators including traffic, sales, reach and leads. If it is used smartly, it can make the biggest difference to the success of a relatively unknown brand compared to one that ignores social shopping. Even e-commerce giants like Amazon think they can benefit from social commerce, so they are creating a separate app for buyers. Maybe other businesses will give it a try.

Plus, higher the engagement and UGC, higher your page rankings are and better your SEO health score is!


The Future of Social Media Ecommerce

Social media is expected to propel the fastest growth in online sales. It is already transforming the way we shop. To keep up with this trend, we will feature more social e-commerce tutorials, how to articles and videos to help you create and promote your e-store and make a profit.

What's in store for social shopping?

  1. Influencer marketing: 78% of consumers say social media posts by companies influenced their purchases. But it doesn't stop there. Today the consumer has an even bigger impact on driving social shopping sales.
  2. Social commerce: Social shopping is here to stay. It is growing faster than direct sales from online stores. Targeted social media advertising and carousel ads are still trending. Businesses will use more social sharing software and tools. And content creators of stories about products will also be in demand.
  3. M-commerce: As India’s mobile technology and Internet speed improve, instant messaging apps, chatbots, and social shares will drive more sales than stand-alone shopping sites.
  4. Voice-enabled search: Voice is closer than most people think. Indians and their kids are already using it with Alexa and Google Home devices, and it is expected to grow with the rest of the world, thanks to cheaper, faster Internet and smartphones.
  5. Video has truly arrived: YouTube views, subscriptions and shares are shooting up every year. Facebook Live is also picking up. Other social media networks are incorporating the power of video channels.
  6. Content marketing: It is getting harder and harder to rank on page 1 of Google search for new businesses. To attract enough organic traffic, you need SEO-ready content (both ON and OFF site). Plus a blog that is helpful to customers and searchers. Today, big brands are getting ready for voice search because it is the future organic search engine results pages (SERPs). Voice search will change the way people search online. Users will look for something in the form of a question. This means using longer keywords and FAQs will climb the search engine ranks.
  7. Multichannel and omnichannel: The future buzzwords of retail sales in India. The integration technology will redefine a customer’s retail experience, making it seamless.
  8. Know your customer: Marketing does not stop after a sale; it often starts there. An e-commerce brand’s site, app, engagement, customer feedback, and content viewed help increase the marketing team’s knowledge about the customer. Brands improve how they:
    • walk in the shoes of the customer,
    • measure everything,
    • segment the audience,
    • develop content and messaging.
  9. Faster returns: With everything in place, including Google marketing, social media ads, occasional print/TV ads, new brands can expect to get ROI in as little as two years.


Take Home Message

Today, the lines between online retail, social selling and brick, and mortar stores are getting blurred. It is no longer enough to have a great site, products, a blog, social media pages, and SEO-ready content. Retailers who want to maintain their edge or launch a new brand also have to diversify their social media for e-commerce, particularly YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

In the end, all retail businesses want is satisfied customers, so they return to the store and increase revenue for the long-term. E-retail is the same except it has a far wider reach and scope. But e-commerce sites need to improve the overall online shopping experience, seamlessly.

Besides being influencer-driven and being powered by video content, the future of e-commerce is social, but it is also m-commerce. Social shopping is the next big thing in digital marketing, but its future depends heavily on smartphone apps. Brands that integrate their social commerce and m-commerce strategies with the site and retail outlet will avoid losing their hard-earned customers to the competition. This is key to getting ahead and staying there.

Zotezo is a marketplace for health, beauty and fitness products. You can also benefit from our health and wellness services. Now you can make earn as a partner as well. Besides online and offline support, Zotezo Partners provides tutorials to walk you through the process of social selling. Create your own custom-made e-commerce wellness store, share it on popular social media and messaging platforms to be a wellness ambassador, overnight!

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