On being social: From Social Media to Social Commerce

Most retailers in India are now visible on social media. However not all retailers are clear about why they are on social media.  The question of whether social media provides visibility, voice or value remains.

As the framework below shows, the monetization potential of social media can be achieved only when companies move from presence – through Voice, Visibility and eventually Value.


In the Indian context, some retail brands have achieved presence and voice:


Note that “Influence” score shows the impact of social media on the purchase decision. “Share of Voice” score shows presence.

For the vast majority of retailers (whether brick and mortar retailers or e-tailers)  – social media is still perceived as something to be done “from a visibility and voice” perspective.   One of the reasons for this is the investment required in creating engaging content. Content writing is still largely outsourced in India. 

Indian retailers need to consider the following metrics to understand the consumer’s readiness to move from social media to social commerce.  Of the total 80 million active internet users (note: there are 105 mio internet users in total but not all are active) , 72%  use social media.  Also, social media networking is second only to checking email when it comes to online activities.


When it comes to mobile internet users, the same study threw up an interesting finding (see graphic overleaf) – Mobile internet users  (39.7 mio) actively use social media (77%) in the form of apps (73%).  A third of them, also use Business Apps (with payment functionality).  One of the major barriers to adoption, seen in other markets, may have been overcome in the Indian context.


The last dimension to this – “how much can you make?”.  While there is no published data in India, the recent Retail Touchpoints study (Feb 2013) which surveyed all multi-channel retailers in the US market had the following to say:


The report also states: “One of the reasons C-level executives might be hesitant to commit to a full-fledged social commerce strategy is that the channel doesn’t directly deliver a high percentage of sales.

In fact, none of the retailers surveyed believe that the percentage of sales attributed to social commerce will rise above 50% by 2015.

When the bottom line is at stake, especially in a public company, the largest profit centers rise to the top.”

That finding is as relevant to India as the US markets.  Other than e-tailers, there is a market gap for brick-and-mortar retailers in India to speed their time-to-market in terms of moving into social commerce.

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Meheriar Patel

Meheriar Patel

Presently working as Chief Technology Officer for Globus Stores Pvt Ltd, One of the oldest fashion retailer based in Mumbai, India. He also hold additional responsibility as Head eCommerce managing all online business for Globus. Previously also held additional responsibility as Head Human Resources and Administration from November 2008 until April 2011. Specializing in “IT and Business” and turning around IT functions from pure operations and support function to a strategic business relationship. Most of his roles resounds this IT Leadership execution. Executed Large OPEX deals both on Software and Hardware. Bringing Upfront Technology Governance and Deployment Capability to maintain and Implement the Right required Architecture. He has a Career spans over 23 years. Prior to joining Globus Stores Pvt Ltd, was with Jetair Pvt Limited as Senior Manager and Head Infrastructure, Oman International Bank as Manager and Head – IT, ICICI Securities as Business Relationship Manager. He has been providing IT leadership since 1994 to Companies spread across diversified sectors including Retail and Supply Chain, Financial Services and Securities, Banking, Travel and Tours, and Logistics. Holds a Master of Business Administration specializing in Information Technology from ITM and Southern New Hampshire University, a Post Graduate in Human Resources from XLRI, Bachelors in Arts and Diploma in Software and Data Processing. His personal interests include reading, following economies and politics internationally, Nature lover and helping a green earth initiative, photography, music, movies and reading.
Meheriar Patel

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