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Metaverse Set To Be A Game-Changer For Ecommerce But There’s Time: Meesho’s Sanjeev Barnwal

Metaverse Set To Be A Game-Changer For Ecommerce But There’s Time: Meesho’s Sanjeev Barnwal

The ecommerce platforms now need to keep optimising for discovering newer trends, Barnwal says

Though the hype of metaverse is yet to touch ecommerce, a visible trend is a shift in ecommerce buying behaviour from intent-based buying to discovery-based buying

For Meesho to grow the platform at its current scale, Barnwal and his team are particularly focused more on personalisation, simple UX designs, consistent and static UI design, usage of high visibility filters

Ecommerce industry in India has emerged to be one of the most fascinating innovators in the broader startup ecosystem, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Social commerce, live commerce and various other trends have started revolutionising the entire ecommerce landscape. Plus, with people choosing more immersive experiences in their lives, who knows when metaverse joins the game to further change all its rules?

But in the booming ecommerce segment, though various other trends might emerge sooner, metaverse is still far away. At least that’s what Sanjeev Barnwal founder and CTO at Meesho believes.

“Metaverse, I personally believe, can be a game-changer for ecommerce… but it’s a few years away,” said Barnwal, speaking at the second edition of Inc42’s The Makers Summit.

Elaborating on why and how metaverse offers opportunities galore to disrupt ecommerce, Barnwal said that the current buying experience offered by ecommerce platforms is nowhere close to the offline buying experience where customers can touch and feel products, interact with people.

In metaverse, some parts of these issues will get covered with users expectedly be able to see themselves (in avatars) in a mirror wearing a cloth or take recommendations from other people. In fact, buying is a lot about social validation as well, he added.

Though the hype of metaverse is yet to touch ecommerce, a few other trends have seemingly grown over the past few years. According to Barnwal, one such trend is the shift in ecommerce buying behaviour from intent-based buying to discovery-based buying.

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Ecommerce Is Less A Planned Buying Phenomenon Now

Previously, users would visit an ecommerce platform with pre-decided products in mind. Now, users open an app, check the newer trends and that decides their buying behaviour.

While the shift is interesting, it brings along its own challenges, for example, the ecommerce platforms now need to keep optimising for discovering newer trends, Barnwal says.

A large chunk of the ecommerce unicorn’s target audience group is from Tire 2 and 3 cities that have lower tech-savviness. Having about seven years of experience in building Meesho, which currently has more than 120 Mn Monthly Active Users (MAUs), Barnwal says that to help grow the platform at this scale, he and his team are particularly focused more on personalisation, simple UX designs, consistent and static UI design, usage of high visibility filters. 

Besides, making its platform available in different vernacular languages has also been a very important benchmark in the startup’s journey so far. Meesho’s ecommerce platform currently supports eight languages, said Barnwal.

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Innovations & Challenges

However, no innovation comes without challenges. 

Over time, Barnwal has also realised it’s just not about fixing systems retrospectively. While building newer features, scale has to be an immediate thought. But there, the trade-off is that if everything is built for scale, it becomes overengineering, given only one out of the five things built would work.

“So, we try to divide our business problems into two types of bucket, one where we have very high confidence and the other is more exploratory. There has to be a healthy balance between where we have high predictability and where we are taking bigger bets,” he added.

Barnwal said Meesho has grown 5X in the last one year. But despite all changes that the startup went through since it started its journey, SMBs have remained its focus.

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85% Of The Entire Retail Coming Through SMBs

India has always been and even today is primarily a small business economy with 85% of the entire retail coming through small businesses. Through the ecommerce revolution that took place with Flipkart and Amazon, SMBs were left out as these companies were mostly focused on selling branded products. The entire SMB commerce was always offline. 

According to Barnwal, Meesho had jumped in to solve this problem.

“We thought this has to be digitised in some form but it was complex as well given operating with SMBs has always been challenging because of its unorganised segment, low tech-savviness,” Barnwal said. Despite all the changes it went through, this broad vision has stayed with Meesho, he added.

Meesho raised $570 Mn led by Fidelity Management and B Capital Group in September last year.

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