India: Amazon invests in social e-commerce

Last Thursday, Amazon launched a community-based social e-commerce service in India called Spark. It allows users to navigate in personalized and emotional feeds based on images and videos. Very similar if not in direct competition with Instagram, it allows to publish questions, stories, polls, hashtags like any social platform. Users can find content generated by the community along with those of the brands, with a user experience much less product-based and more emotional, reminiscent of success stories such as the Chinese social network WeChat, or the new features of Instagram that we have seen in detail weeks ago.

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Key figures to understand Indian e-commerce. Digital retail sales are expected to reach $52 billions within 2022 from the current $20 bln. E-commerce share of total retail sales is still low, but growing at a steady pace

Spark will also feature the opportunity of making moodboards (boards of pics linked by moods or conceptual threads) similar to Pinterest, which can have an excellent performance both in terms of social involvement and on the possibility of triggering marketing levers. There are two tabs: Feed and Explore with the ability to follow a timeline based on the accounts followed, and one that allows you to be guided by the algorithm of the system and explore content based on your interests. Technology and gadgets, lifestyle, food, drinks, art and DIY crafts are among the categories at the center of the experience, at least according to some observers and tech savvy magazines. An important move even if we consider a certain gender gap in India: currently (according to AT Kearney) 70%-80% of Indian digital shoppers are men, but the female share of e-shoppers is destined to double and reach almost half by 2020, with all that goes for the most effective marketing tools and user experience, if we think that in Instagram more than half of the users are women and Pinterest sees a female share of 81% (even if 40% of newcomers on the platform are men).

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Amazon sparks…some hints

But the competition is fierce, as other technology giants like Google have made important steps in the country (Google Shopping), investing in resources, marketing, infrastructure and acquisition of local companies and startups that can quickly change the appearance of the local market. The dominance is Amazon but the investments of the Indian big name Flipkart, recently purchased by Walmart, and those of the Chinese giant Alibaba through the Paytm mobile payment system are important. It’s a tough match with uncertain results, where the fates of e-commerce are played in the Indian subcontinent.


Flipkart, the Indian e-commerce giant acquired by Walmart in August 2018 with the purchase of a 77% stake in the company for an investment of 16 billion dollars

[Header Photo by Vitaliy Lyubezhanin on Unsplash]

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