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How homegrown short-video platforms have pivoted to creator-led social commerce space

After successfully filling in the void created by the ban of TikTok, the desi short-video platforms are now looking beyond advertising revenue

by Javed Farooqui
Published - Dec 1, 2021 8:48 AM Updated- Dec 2, 2021 1:27 PM

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The Indian government's decision to ban short-video platform TikTok in June 2020 paved the way for several homegrown platforms to come and fill in the void. The local short-video platforms have come a long way in the last 1.5 years with some of them managing to build a strong foothold in the nascent market. Having established themselves in the market, many of the platforms are pivoting to new revenue streams like live and social commerce considering the opportunity at hand. Some like Roposo and Trell have repositioned themselves as creator-led social commerce platforms.

InMobi-owned Roposo, which started as a short video platform, has fully transitioned to a creator-led live entertainment commerce platform. According to Mansi Jain, GM and Vice President, Roposo and Commerce for Glance, India is at the cusp of making huge inroads into the live creator-driven commerce space which is projected to become a $40 billion opportunity by 2025.

"The mobile and online commerce segment in the country is ripe for disruption, especially for GenZ, as consumers, today are likely to look for fun shopping experiences that go beyond transactional e-commerce. They are looking for experiences that feel real, authentic, and replicate the offline world. We are excited to explore this space deeper as we move forward," she stated.

Her statement finds resonance with platforms like Trell, Bolo Live, Chingari, Woovly and Moj. All of them are looking beyond advertising revenue and many of them are focussing on live commerce in a big way.

Like Roposo, Trell had pivoted from being a video-sharing platform to a social commerce platform in January. Not to be left behind, Moj inked a video commerce partnership with Flipkart. Bolo Indya renamed itself Bolo LIVE as part of its strategy to become the leading Indian social live-streaming platform.

Trell Co-Founder and CEO Pulkit Agrawal expects India’s social commerce sector to grow double in size of the current e-commerce sector which is estimated at $30 billion GMV in the next 10 years. Trell, he said, was one of the first movers in the social commerce sector in India.

"Consumers today are looking for innovative shopping experiences which provide easy access to a diverse range of products. This, coupled with the need to get genuine reviews and recommendations from trusted influencers has certainly given a push to social commerce. Social commerce has been able to bridge the gap of discovery through personalized recommendations and reviews, while also providing a unique shopping experience," Agarwal said.

Trell entered the social commerce space in 2020 by setting up Trell Shop marketplace which today offers products from 600+ brands such as Lakmé, Mama Earth, Plum, Tresemmé, The Man Company, Mirabelle, Dr. Vaidya, Ustraa, and Wow. "Since then, Trell has seen tremendous growth in online transactions, along with its creator and user base. Today, Trell has over 18 million+ creators, 50 million+ monthly active users with lifestyle content in 10 regional languages. We are, seeing 30% month-on-month growth in online transactions," he stated.

According to Agarwal, Trell generate revenues through the brands which partner with its community of influencers on the platform. "Brands listed with us can unlock a vast, targeted market through the power of popularity and engagement driven by our key opinion leader (KOL) community. These KOLs play an important role in influencing and driving purchase decisions for lifestyle brands on the platform. KOLs share personalized recommendations and reviews with their audience and in turn monetize from brand collaborations. Out of this, Trell shares a percentage of the revenue generated from the collaborations."

ShareChat & Moj Chief Financial Officer Manohar Singh Charan said that the video commerce partnership with Flipkart has been done to develop a concrete revenue stream for creators on Moj, which has 160 million monthly active users. "Besides capturing the impulsive buying intent, capturing the extreme top of the commerce funnel and making e-commerce accessible to millions of first-time users, this collaboration will incentivize content creators in the Moj ecosystem by enabling new commerce-led revenue streams for them," he added.

Charan said that Flipkart and Moj aim to enrich the viewing experience on the Moj platform by providing convenient access to products that are being showcased by content creators. He noted, "Users will get a seamless content and commerce experience on Moj wherein they can buy tagged Flipkart marketplace products directly from the video screen. This is also a significant step for the Moj creator community to monetise their innovative and original content. This collaboration brings the user’s buying experience a step closer to real world where a friend who they rely on for shopping suggestions (Person who influences your buying decision) plays an important role in shopping decisions. Moj influencers will be playing that friend for their respective followers here."

Bolo Live Co-Founder Varun Saxena said that advertising limits the revenue for platforms as well as monetisation for content creators. "With more and more fans ready to do spontaneous purchases to give virtual gifts to their favourite content creators as well as willing to do purchases for products suggested by their trusted content creators; there is no surprise in the developing trend."

He also said that in-app purchases by followers to give virtual gifts to their favourite live streamers is the major revenue stream for Bolo Live. "Amalgamation of gamification and microtransactions on the platform have boosted the monetisation for live streamers on platform as well as revenue for us. We have 18 live streamers who have started to make over a lakh rupee per month from the platform, all driven by consumer transactions on the platform and not by advertising."

Saxena said that there is a big opportunity in the space of creator economy and social commerce. "We will see more unicorns emerging in social content space, driven by models which are based on the foundation of in-app purchases and transactions by the audiences and fans for their favourite content creators."

Roposo's Jain asserts that the platform has created an entirely new category of creator-led live entertainment commerce which no one else in the country is doing currently. Roposo, she added, intends to leverage Shop101’s technology, comprehensive supply chain infrastructure and vast experience in managing end-to-end digital shopping from discovery to end fulfilment.

Besides, the platform has formed strategic synergies with creators, and celebrities. "Apart from major existing known direct to consumer brands, Roposo will also feature multiple labels in fashion, home décor, health and fitness, etc, which we are co-creating with some of the biggest celebrities and influencers, through Glance Collective. We recently launched EK with Ekta Kapoor on this front. Further, Roposo has the massive scale and reach of the Glance platform with its over 150 million active users," Jain noted.

Roposo, Jain said, is looking to build a significantly large commerce business over the next year. "With the scale of Glance and uniqueness of live shopping, we can expect to potentially power large transactions in the country. The revenue models for our creators doing live commerce lead to greater monetization opportunities for them rather than just monetizing content. Apart from their own pop stores, they can leverage their masterclasses and much more."

Commenting on the home-grown social commerce in India, Venkat J, Co-founder & CEO, Woovly says, “Woovly is helping T2, T3 millennials to discover and shop lifestyle products instantly via short video content created by micro/ nano influencers. Users at T2+ cities find it difficult to understand the brand/ products via conventional catalogues. Short videos created by lookalike creators makes it easy to understand the products and usage; helping to ease their buying experience."

Venkat also said that the platform also empowers the short form content creators helping them get brand partnerships and earn while their content converts sales. "According to 2020 data, off the 200 million short Video content community, 42 million are content creators. Of this 42 million, only 35,000 made money. We recognised a problem where the micro/ nano influencers are unable to monetise. Woovly is working to empower this large growing creator community on a social commerce platform. In the last 9 months of commerce launch, Woovly has helped more 5.5 million users to discover and shop 10,000+ SKUs from the 20k micro influencers content. This is growing at 256% QoQ."

In a recent interaction with exchange4media, Sumit Ghosh, CEO and Co-Founder of Chingari, had said that the NFT marketplace, social commerce and influencer marketing are the key revenue streams for the platform. The Tech4Billion Media owned platform had recently announced the launch of its own crypto token $GARI and NFT marketplace. The $GARI token will become the default currency for all transactions that take place on the platform.

"NFT marketplace will be the biggest revenue stream, followed by creator economy transactions. Social commerce will also be a large revenue source. We have a tie-up with Amazon. Apart from that, we are also working with other D2C brands to integrate them in the app and make them accept buy tokens for their merchandise. Our teams are working on that," Ghosh had said.

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