Homemakers clock $9 billion business through social media: Report

aving spent over a decade in Hyderabad, Puja Singh moved back to Bokaro in Jharkhand after her marriage. Singh had been running an independent apparel store which she had started on a modest capital but had to shut shop as she moved cities.

Singh never went back to opening another physical store instead she opted to sell her wares using the popular messaging app WhatsApp and social media platform Facebook, as a re-seller.

With the online retail market growing in the country, Indian women homemakers like Singh are increasingly using social media to take advantage of the e-commerce boom and reach customers. A report by consulting firm Zinnnov shared exclusively with TOI, says as many as two million women homemakers are reselling various lifestyle and clothing products using these two platforms.

While e-commerce majors like Flipkart and Amazon hog the limelight with their transaction volumes, these homemakers by using basic internet tools are clocking business worth about $8-9 billion in gross sales which is projected to grow to anywhere between $48-60 billion in size by 2022, the Zinnov report pointed out.

Online re-sellers are typically women homemakers (sometimes with small boutiques in past), unemployed men or even college students who use WhatsApp and Facebook to market their products after sourcing them from suppliers who typically keep a bigger stock of products. The re-sellers, then make 15-20% of order value as commission for selling these products.

Singh says she sells anywhere between 70-80 units of clothing every month and has managed to get buyers from outside her state leveraging the reach of WhatsApp. “As many as 70% of my products are sold locally but I am getting order requests from other Indian cities. Based on the initial success, I plan to sell other categories as well,” she says. Just like Singh in Bokaro, Nidhi Jain in Jaipur, started her own retail business as a supplier using these social media channels. “I used to take small orders from other suppliers to resell but that has changed with my growing network resulting in higher sales. WhatsApp is mostly used for payments, logistics but the expansion of consumer base and product discovery is largely through Facebook,” Jain says.

Meesho, a Y! Combinator startup, which offers tools to such women to help them start their businesses through WhatsApp and Facebook says it’s banking on the mammoth opportunity this segment presents here in India.

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