The social commerce-based business model

A Guide For Starting An Online Store

Data suggests that online stores, which have a social media presence, registered 32 percent more sales on an average than the stores which do not have social media presence.

Most online businesses today understand the importance of having a social presence, but how significant is it really? According to our data, stores that have at least one social account (Facebook and/or Twitter) have 32% more sales on average than stores that don’t use Facebook and/or Twitter.

There have been a number of reports on the % of sales from social, but the majority of them rank social traffic very low in regards to amount of traffic and conversion rate.

Our data suggests that implementing social media in your online marketing plan can have a much larger effect on your success than simply being a new source of traffic and sales to your site. Taking the decision to use social media in your marketing will often lead you to engage more with existing social media communities around your platform, communicate for the first time with your customers, help you learn more about online marketing tricks and tactics, and many other benefits which will add to your success.

Social Media Stat #1: If you’re not yet using social media to market your online store then stop reading this post and head over to Facebook and create a new page for your business. After that I recommend you learn the basics of building an online community.

The average e-commerce site is publishing 4.55 posts a week on their Facebook page

And 4.55 posts a week comes out at 0.65 posts a day, which is quite far off the 1 post a day that should be the minimum for most online brands. Since Facebook introduced its famous (infamous if you are an online marketer) Edge Rank, only around 16% of your fans will see your posts. With this in mind I would recommend that online storeowners start publishing more often on Facebook and see how your community reacts and if it has a positive effect on the growth and engagement of your community.

The low stat also shows us that many small-medium e-commerce sites are slacking off when it comes to actively posting regular, high quality content on their business’ Facebook pages. This is an opportunity in of itself, and this figure of 0.65 posts a day can be a benchmark that every online store owner should aim to beat.

Social Media Stat #2: Aim to post at least once per day to your Facebook page and start experimenting with more than one post a day.

The average e-commerce site’s Facebook community is growing by 8% each month
ecommerce social media

There are a number of metrics that are important to track as an online storeowner, but often the growth rates of a store’s social communities are ignored. According to data gathered from analyzing the Facebook pages of over 4,000 e-commerce sites, the average growth rate from month to month is 8%. This is an interesting number, because it should be relative to the size of your businesses’ Facebook following. A newer page should aim for a growth rate much higher than 8%, as it will take you 60 months to reach your first thousand if you started with 10 fans. Large communities that have great engagement shouldn’t focus too much on growth as even a monthly growth rate of 5% will bring large numbers of new fans and potential customers within your reach.

Social Media Stat #3: e-commerce sites with a small number of Facebook fans should aim for a growth rate higher than 8%, while established communities that have a few thousand fans or more should aim for a 5-8% growth rate month over month.

Of the e-commerce sites that have a Facebook account, 60% are also using Twitter

Twitter is an extremely popular social network among businesses, but I was surprised to see that only 60% of sites that are using Facebook are also using Twitter. This statistic shows us that there is definitely opportunity for e-commerce sites to create a strong presence on Twitter and use the social network to increase brand awareness and to help establish themselves as an authority in their niche.

I recommend that you make a list of your top 20 competitors and try and find each one on Twitter. If you find that a minority of them are active on the social network, then I would consider opening an account and start engaging with your target audience. The POST framework is a great tool for first time users.

Social Media Stat #4: There is less competition on Twitter for the e-commerce space in general, so analyze your niche and see how strong it is on Twitter. If there is opportunity there then dive in and start crushing it with Twitter.

The average e-commerce site owner expects customers to have their orders within 14 days of making their purchases

When given the option of choosing the number of days after a customer makes a purchase to email the customer for feedback on the product, most online storeowners decided on 14 days. This indicates that most online storeowners expect their customers to have their products well within 14 days of shipping their products. We can learn from this number that if the entire process of processing your orders, dispatching them and shipping time is longer than 14 days, then you should take a long, hard look at how your business is functioning and make necessary changes.

Social Media Stat #5: Make sure that the minute a customer makes an order, they don’t wait longer than 14 days before they have their purchase in their hands.

Social media is thus among the most potent digital marketing tools – an intuitive insight given the amount of time we spend on our smartphones on average. More interestingly, these social media channels are also evolving into new e-marketplaces.

The outreach of social media has led to the development of a new segment, social commerce, an internet-based model for small and medium-sized businesses. As per the Indian government, WhatsApp (530 million users), YouTube (448 million users), Facebook (410 million users), Instagram (210 million users), and Twitter (17.5 million users) reportedly have a collective reach of over 1.61 billion users in India, thereby providing amplified scope for product discovery besides enabling the direct communication on products between buyers and sellers.

Instagram, for example, allows businesses to photo share, do video calls, and host polls, which improves their business planning as they get a pulse on niche or new trends and can develop products to market accordingly. Given that many social commerce businesses tend to have smaller working capital, this flexibility and consumer engagement can be invaluable. Further, the rise of the social media influencer as an established new marketing approach will inevitably strengthen the exposure of social commerce businesses. According to a Bain & Company consultancy report, the social commerce market is currently estimated to be worth around US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion – projected to grow to US$20 billion in five years and US$70 billion by 2030.

Adapting the model, established e-commerce marketplaces are also exploring ways to tap into SME and/or hyperlocal businesses, like Flipkart, which recently launched an independent platform 2GUD to connect offline stores with customers, and showcase products through long-format videos.

Other business models that have spun out of the social commerce space are the reselling and group buying models. Major examples of social reselling platforms are Meesho, GlowRoad, Shop 101, Bulbul, and SimSim – the users of these platforms/apps are called resellers.

The benefits that these platforms include digital inventory of products sourced from suppliers at wholesale prices, logistical services, customer service, integration with social media channels, and even the option of free personal sub-domain and storefront (GlowRoad).

For example, Bengaluru-based Meesho app provides an alternative distribution channel for suppliers to list their wide ranging product catalogs, which can be sourced by individual entrepreneurs by leveraging their contacts on social media. According to the company, as reported by YourStory, Meesho has “built a network of two million ‘social sellers’, nearly 80 percent of which are women… selling goods from over 15,000 suppliers in over 700 small towns. Its app is available in seven local languages, with 40 percent of its daily active users (DAUs) consisting of the non-English speaking population.” Meesho is also one of the most-funded startups in the sector, counting Facebook, Sequoia Capital, Shunwei Capital, SAIF Partners, Y Combinator, among its investors.