Social commerce in layman's terms would be defined as any commercial transaction occurring because a person referred them to a merchant. Some people identify social commerce with business being enabled through social media. Regardless of the definitions, social commerce typically connects the buyer directly with the seller unlike e-commerce, and more often than not, there is a social element to it.
Long before the term was coined, we were referring nearby stores to our neighbours, we were recommending businesses to our communities. With commerce moving online, is there a need to evolve social commerce? With the technology available today, is it time for local businesses to stand up to e-commerce giants?
This is where NASSCOM-incubated IamHere (https://about.iamhere.app) is turning on the heat with its award-winning technology platform.
IamHere is a location-first social network that combines discovery, collaboration and commerce for neighbourhoods and communities. While helping people in the neighbourhoods to engage with each other for hobby and profession, the platform enables businesses to create their profile and attach a digital store. The digital store can be created within the platform or businesses can add any external marketplace link to their profile. Once the profile is created, businesses can start posting information to the IamHere network and directly interact with customers.
“Social commerce in India is expected to hit $70bn by 2030, that is twice the current e-commerce market. While e-commerce has definitely added value in the last decade, the market is due for a disruption. The only way to disrupt at scale an aggregation-based e-commerce is to connect consumers directly with businesses. When that happens, the problem to be solved is not fulfilment, but enablement,” quotes Naren Kumar, Co-Founder & CEO of IamHere.
There are cafes, bakers, food vendors, artists, boutiques, coaches, lawyers, consultants, real estate builders, home products and a wide variety of neighbourhood businesses that are now selling on IamHere. For them, delivery is not a challenge. They deliver on their own or use a local logistics platform, many times the buyers do the pick up themselves. Their challenge is about being able to tell their customers what they sell, their challenge is in letting the buyers know they are running an offer, their challenge is in being able to connect with consumers directly.
By addressing this challenge, IamHere is changing the game. Through a digital store that can pick up orders, they are bringing neighbourhood businesses on the consumer’s mobile. Through a captive audience, they are able to connect the supply with the demand. Through a community network, they are creating trusted influencers. By enabling neighbourhood deliveries, they are saving some carbon footprint. And beyond all of this, they are able to get local economies to thrive again.
“Businesses are able to see multiples of their traffic post getting on to IamHere. Within just two weeks of promotions on IamHere, a local cafe is able to see a 20% increase in its footfall. Within two months of promotions on IamHere, a fitness centre is able to see 3x increase in its daily inquiries. Success stories like these are motivating us to make the product better every single day,” quips Pooja Bhatia, Co-Founder & CPO of IamHere.
Social commerce has always existed in our ecosystem. We are now at the edge of an era where this ecosystem is looking to take off on digital wings. Shopify provides digital stores, but it does not have the network. Facebook has the network but it is not for the neighbourhood. In some sense, IamHere combines the ability of Facebook and Shopify for the needs of neighbourhoods and is building a unique platform. While there is no clear leader in this space globally, IamHere seems to have all the right ingredients to lead this market transition for the world, from India.