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Rediff.com  » Business » Indian e-retailers 'like' Facebook for biz expansion

Indian e-retailers 'like' Facebook for biz expansion

September 28, 2012 11:29 IST

With Facebook serving as an impulse-buying medium, Indian e-retailers are increasingly relying on the social networking site to introduce new products and services, and notch up high sales.

"Our focus as an active brand on Facebook lies in informing our customers about the products and offers we feature on our website. While we use Facebook ads and brand pages to promote our products, the site also offers us the scope to target promotions at specific audiences, demarcating these not only by geographical locations, but also by interest base," says Sandeep Komaravelly, vice-president (marketing), Snapdeal.com.

Currently, Snapdeal, which ships about 25,000 orders every day to about 4,000 towns and cities across the country, has an active community of 6,20,000 fans on Facebook.

"Right now, the percentage contribution of transactions originating from the Facebook channel is not very high, compared to the overall orders. Given the pace at which it is growing, it would be substantial in the coming months," Komaravelly says. This year, the company expects to record revenue of Rs 600 crore (Rs 6 billion).

In April, the number of internet users in India stood at about 120 million, of which 45 million used Facebook. Facebook accounts for about 995 million users worldwide, including about 51 million users in India. It is estimated 37 per cent of Indian internet users use Facebook. Various studies peg the volume of global Facebook commerce, or F-commerce, at $15 billion.

Shipra Jain, chief marketing officer of Bluestone.com, an online gold and diamond jewellery retailer, says, "Facebook acts as a medium for us to acquire and reach out to new customers. We acquire about 1,000 customers a month through various Facebook activities, including content marketing, Facebook ads and Facebook-sponsored stories. This medium accounts for 70 per cent of our new customers. In one or two years, we see ourselves as an established brand, and our presence on Facebook would always be important."

The company, which has shipped about 30,000 products so far, currently receives about 1,000 'likes' a day on its Facebook page.

Trivikram Thakore, marketing director of online shopping hub Fashion-andyou.com, says the company embraces any new development by Facebook and actively scouts for ways to implement these in its social media strategy. "The fast pace of Facebook's updates is a very exciting area for experimentation. The two latest features, promoted posts and offers, are directly related to sales and are a big plus for us," he says.

Globally, 11,24,144 peopleĀ  'liked' Fashionandyou.com on Facebook, of which about 70 per cent are from India. The rest are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, the US, the UAE and Nepal.

Thakore says on an average, the company receives about 3,00,000 'likes' a year. He, however, adds more than 'likes', it is the interaction with customers that matters. "We structure our communication across platforms to not only attract them to useful and relevant information about Fashionandyou.com, but also to keep their interest for other engaging activities like contests, games, apps and videos," he says.

Users visiting the company's Facebook page account for about four per cent of its daily shop visits, and the conversion rate is almost double that of paid marketing methods. "We have observed a positive trend in the inflow of visitors from Facebook to our site. Facebook conversion rates are between two and three per cent," Thakore says.

Also cashing in on Facebook is Sher Singh, a cricket-inspired, off-the-field private label lifestyle brand from India.

In about only a year, Sher Singh's Facebook page has over 3,40,000 members. "We try to use this database actively. On an average, about 10 per cent of our sales come through our Facebook page. And, these are direct sales. If we take into account the indirect impact of our Facebook page -- users visiting our page and registering for our sales, emails, and buying a few days later -- this number goes up further," says Sunjay Guleria, chief executive and co-founder of Sher Singh.

K Rajani Kanth in Hyderabad
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