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Social media driving the growth of e-commerce
ET Bureau


Switch on the television and chances are that after every three television commercials, there will be an e-commerce site ad selling to the target audience. Reminiscent of the dotcom days of early 2000, the new flavour are websites that offer deals to consumers. Add to that, the travel sites that offer a multitude of deals and vacation packages. But the scenario becomes even more interesting with segments like e-commerce, travel and social media platforms intruding into each others' playing ground. An analysis of social media conversations in India indicate that a fourth of the buzz on online retailing is now being garnered by discount sites or 'deal-tailers', according to a study done by NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company. "Consumer conversations on social media are effective predictors of where the future lies," says Adrian Terron, VP at Nielsen. With a greater share of conversations being captured by deal and discount sites, 'deal-tailing' is likely to be where consumer interest moves. So while the multi-category retailers and entertainment sites are driving buzz through content and exclusive deals, the deal and discount sites will continue to differentiate on the basis of daily and limited period deals on branded products. They will eventually evolve further by adhering to a cluster of categories woven by differing themes like entertainment, sports and lifestyle, luxury, wellness etc. In some ways, this is akin to the path that auction sites traversed in a pre-social network era.

With e-commerce acquiring greater social media clout, social media platforms are becoming the anchors that are triggering the onset of greater social commerce across categories. For instance, deals on e-commerce site gets shared and re-tweeted on social media. This generates lot of buzz for these brands, the study states. Even travel websites depend on the social media fans to further reach out to the online target consumers. Then there's the organised brick and mortar retail brands like Shoppers Stop jostling for space online alongside pure play e-tailers. Adds Terron; "e-commerce sites are set to acquire a more social 'skin' and social sites are extending into the e-commerce space to utilise the power of individual influence and micro-networks."

This trend is reflected with the group-buying sites like fashionandyou, snapdeal, deals and you and tradus that are mobilising a new category of e-shoppers through the power of referral. In this model, social networks are especially useful in collectivising buying behaviour. Group buying is a trend that is already scorching the markets across and is becoming one of the biggest web trends across the globe, the study adds. India too is witnessing a fair share of action now particularly in the 'deal-tailing' space. But with so many players dishing out the same fare without much differentiation, is it moving towards another dotcom bust? Only time will tell.

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