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Last Updated : Jun 13, 2019 02:03 PM IST | Source:

In a challenge to Amazon & Flipkart, 'live commerce' apps set eyes on non-metro users

Nascent companies like Bulbul and simsim target an audience beyond the metros to capture the space that still shows potential.

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Gaining significant traction in the e-commerce market in India are 'live-commerce' apps like EkAnekNetworks (yet to be launched), Bulbul and simsim. These companies are here to offer an alternative to e-commerce users, who like to be spoon-fed with information about the products they wish to purchase, and people who do not necessarily read product descriptions while they engage in online shopping.

Bulbul hosts around 25 to 30 streams a day, between 12 noon and 6 pm five days a week, reports The Economic Times. Founded in 2018 by Sachin Bhatia (former MakeMyTrip co-founder), Atit Jain (co-founder of medicine delivery startup Pluss) and Sichen Sianna Liu (former executive at Chinese short-video company Kwai), the company had over 100,000 app installs on Play Store as of June.

What these companies essentially do is provide their users a service that combines live video streaming with the option to interact with sellers and to make their purchases immediately. This reminds one of the teleshopping channels on cable TV networks back in the 90s.


Simsim is another recently launched live-streaming e-commerce app, which seeks to target the 'video-first' audience who are often also language-first users to pitch its products. Such an audience is found largely beyond the metros. Live-interaction features offered by BulBul allows viewers to put forth product-related questions to its hosts.

e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon have also tried treading the language path, but have largely offered translation that is far from contextual. In such a space, these budding apps plan to challenge the mammoth players.

Widening their reach by taking online shopping beyond the first 100 million users is what these companies are excited about. “e-commerce in India still caters to a very small consumer base -- not more than 30-35 million users shop online on a frequent basis (more than three-to-four times a year). And even this small base shops only for a limited set of categories,” the article quotes simsim co-founder Amit Bagaria as saying. He added that the traditional e-commerce platforms are somewhat intimidating for the first-time user since they are largely based on a self-service model.

The concept already seems to be a hit in China, currently the largest market for ‘live commerce’ (with a market size of about $4.4 billion). The country recorded around 456 million live stream viewers in 2018, with nearly 200 players in China’s e-commerce market offering live streaming features as of 2017.

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First Published on Jun 13, 2019 02:03 pm
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