When Chingari, a short video sharing platform was launched last year, it gained instant fame. The only question mark against it was this: was it too much of a TikTok clone?
TikTok, one of the biggest short video sharing platforms, had picked up pace in India with close to 200 million users, before it was banned by the Indian government in June 2020 along with 223 other Chinese apps in response to a border clash.
Chingari's co-founder, Sumit Ghosh who didn't want the platform to be called a TikTok copycat, launched something new recently.
The new addition ensures that users can not just watch videos on Chingari, but can also shop through them.
In simple terms, Chingari is making its videos shoppable. To attain its goal, it tied up with the e-commerce platform Amazon on February 16.
According to Ghosh, every video that gets uploaded on Chingari is parsed frame by frame and all detected objects are then matched with a live catalogue of Amazon. This is how each video becomes shoppable.
But Chingari is not alone in this space. Before Chingari, Trell, a short video sharing platform explored the video/social commerce space when it launched social commerce last year. As the name suggests, it involves social media and e-commerce.
Pulkit Agrawal, Co-Founder, Trell, said that they realized mid-year in 2020 that many emerging influencers were coming up and educating masses. They were creating content on how to apply a certain kind of makeup or generally discussing fashion trends. "That's when we thought why not connect influencers with brands and if the end consumer buys from influencers, they (influencers) can make a living out of this. So, we enabled social commerce in September last year," he explained.
It was a smart move. Trell by now has onboarded more than 400 personal care and beauty brands. It has sold in excess of 300,000 products and Agrawal said that social commerce on the platform is growing 50 percent, month on month.
What is interesting is that Trell is witness to more than 50 percent of purchases on the platform from Tier II, III markets.
"Most buyers are from smaller markets than metro cities. Why they are buying from the platform is because they can imagine the use case of a product. Social commerce is solving the imagination gap. Various influencers apply products and that gives consumers a lot of education," he said.
First Trell, now Chingari. Is social commerce becoming a trend in the short video sharing space?
Sagar Pushp, Co-founder, ClanConnect, an influencer marketing agency, believes that it is becoming a trend as many content creators are doing something similar on YouTube.
"On short video sharing platform, social commerce is more integrated on the app. Here there is a huge involvement of technology and you need to make such videos interactive," he states.
Like Pushp mentioned, Chingari is also using artificial intelligence and machine learning to make videos more shoppable.
But what is the need to make videos shoppable?
In his reasoning, a video has always been a much more powerful medium for conversion.
"If you search for any keyword on the web, you will see listed ads as well as YouTube results. Why? Because video has always been a powerful medium for conversion. Storytelling through video has 60-70 percent more chances of conversion," explained Pushp.
He added that for brands it is more trackable.
"On YouTube, when an influencer gives a link in the description box, the link is able to tell the advertiser how many people clicked and converted through that link and the content creator also gets seven to eight percent by the e-commerce player," Pushp offered, by explaining the economics of the system.
Adding to this, Rohit Sakunia, Co-founder, Art-E Media, said, "Videos provide a good amount of information about a product which leads to an increase in conversions. Integrating products in a video is a good strategy for retailers as it presents the opportunity to give shoppers an experience of the product and ultimately the brand."
Entertaining, educating and earning
Both Chingari and Trell are also trying to strengthen the influencer community by helping them earn a living through content creation.
Ghosh said that video commerce will generate revenues for the creators of Chingari.
In addition, content creators are earning commissions on every product that is purchased on Trell. "This is more sustainable and a growing cycle for them. This (social commerce) is making content creators entrepreneurs," Agrawal added.
He, however, did not share the exact percentage in terms of the commission that a creator gets on Trell, as it varies from category to category and influencer to influencer. But he said that some influencers are able to make more than Rs one lakh a month on the platform.
When it comes to categories in the social commerce space, fashion is definitely the leader, pointed out Aman Narula, senior influencer marketing manager, Mad Influence, a bellwether marketing agency.
"Experiential buying and influencer marketing, both are growing trends in India and social commerce links the two. So, it won't be surprising to see different category additions - from tech, food to travel," he predicts.
Narula noted that "Flipkart and Myntra have already started using creators to highlight products on their platforms. With the likes of Chingari bringing e-commerce on their platforms, it will make the process of buying products online far easier and addictive."
Trell is already planning to launch some more genres like home care, health and fitness, accessories and fashion. "All categories where content plays a major role are the ones we will include," said Agrawal.
Social commerce-- a game-changer?
While the social commerce space is growing, Pushp said that the adoption by influencers is not very high. "But we are going to see a huge surge in the next six to eight months," he projected.
As far as Chingari is considered, Narula is more circumspect. He said it'll be difficult to predict strong growth in the near future considering the current user base.
While Trell has around 45 million monthly active users (MAUs), Chingari has 20 million.
The two platforms have a smaller user base as compared to other short video sharing platforms like Josh and Roposo that have around 75 million MAUs and 65 million MAUs respectively.
That is precisely why Narula thinks that for Chingari, the partnership with Amazon might be a game-changer.
As for Trell, social commerce is already attracting more users. Since the launch of social commerce on the platform in September last year, the platform has seen 50 percent growth in its userbase.