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TikTok Experiments With Social Commerce: Should Meesho & Co Be Worried?

TikTok Experiments With Social Commerce: Should Meesho & Co Be Worried?

TikTok now allows some users to add links to ecommerce sites to their profile biography

The company said the experimentation is aimed at improving app experience for users

India has 466.8 Mn TikTok app installs, about 31 percent of total global downloads

Social video platform TikTok is not leaving any stone unturned when it comes to driving growth. The app, which touched 1.5 Bn downloads worldwide recently, is now experimenting with social commerce.

The Chinese company now allows some users to add links to ecommerce sites to their profile biography. The platform also offers them the ability to easily send their viewers to shopping websites. The company said the move is part of its experimentation to improve the app experience for users

“We are always experimenting with new ways to improve the app experience for our users. Ultimately, we are focused on ways to inspire creativity, bring joy, and add value for our community,” a spokesperson of ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, said.

How Indian Social Commerce Platforms Caught Investors’ Fancy

The business-to-business model offered by social commerce platforms has caught investors’ interest in a massive way. According to data tracking company Venture Intelligence report, social commerce startups in India have raised $157 Mn investments to date this year as against around $75 Mn in 2018.

While Facebook-backed Meesho has grabbed the maximum share of investments, with $190 million so far, other social commerce platforms including Mall91, Shop101, GlowRoad, Dealshare, CityMall, Bulbul and WMall have also been making inroads into the huge ecommerce market.

Bengaluru-based GlowRoad raised $10 Mn in April 2019 led by China’s CDH and with participation from existing investor Accel Partners. Regional social commerce company, DealShare, raised around $8 Mn in its Series A round of funding led by Matrix Partners India and Falcon Edge Capital recently. Noida-headquartered Mall91 also raised $7.5 Mn Series A funding by Go-Ventures and participation by Beenext, Kalaari Capital, AngelList India.

These startups, for instance, Meesho founded by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal in 2015, connects buyers and resellers with WhatsApp and other social media platforms to showcase and sell their goods. The social commerce platforms works with a range of logistics companies to service their orders. Meesho has more than 15K suppliers and 2 Mn resellers across India and has raised $215 Mn from investors

These social commerce platforms are leveraging on the increased internet penetration coming from Tier 2, 3 cities and rural areas. According to Statista, more than 2.14 Bn people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online by 2021. The high internet penetration backed by the reach of social media platforms WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram, is fueling the growth of social commerce startups in India.

The talks about TikTok launching ecommerce in India started when the company introduced shoppable advertisements over its app. With this, the Bytedance-owned platform redirected users to a microsite to browse and shop by tapping on the video advertisement. While the company had clarified that it does not plan to enter social commerce, the experimentation with few users hints its launch in India.

TikTok’s major percentage of growth comes from India. Till now India has had 466.8 Mn installs, which is about 31 percent of total global installs. With social commerce already taking over the large ecommerce players in India, the market here can prove lucrative for the Chinese company and give become a threat to small social commerce players.