Smartphones and feature phones are helping India’s youth get online more than ever before. They’re using the mobile web for fun, social media, and shopping.
This is reflected in how tech and web-based businesses and startups are flourishing in the country. E-commerce startups such as Flipkart, Snapdeal, GupShup, Cashkaro and others have grown in revenues as well as user numbers; they are among the pick of global and local investors this year.
In fact, a recent Frost and Sullivan’s study – Impact of Social Media on Online Shopping Behavior in India – shows how social media and e-commerce are intertwined in usage among Indian users.
According to the study, over 60 percent of net users in urban India spend over four hours per day and surf the internet mainly for entertainment, networking, business, education, and shopping. More than 130 million people in the country are linked to the internet through fixed and mobile broadband, while over 80 million are on Facebook and 20 million on LinkedIn in India.
Over 2 hours per day on social media
The study also reveals that close to 50 percent of young web users in India spend over two hours on social media portals daily. Over 30 percent of users agreed that friends or peers impact their online shopping, and 17 percent say they’re influenced by things like online ads, reviews and information gleaned from the web. Interestingly, the report finds that buyers are referring much more to social media before shopping so as to make informed decisions. More than 67 percent of Indian web users from urban areas are highly influenced by social media while buying items online.
A group of web users between 18 and 35 years of age participated in the study and 60 percent of them admitted shopping online once a month, while 40 percent wanted to increase online spending over the next year or so. More than 40 percent of participants said they bought one or more items after seeing it/them on a social networking site. According to Vidya Nath, Frost and Sullivan’s research director of ICT practice, Indian businesses need to link up their websites with social media to drive sales and online revenues, and they also need to follow user behaviour patterns carefully in their marketing plans.
“What works for one company, may not work for the other, hence social media marketing has to be carefully and strategically implemented to see tangible results,” Nath concluded. This study is likely to be useful for existing online businesses and as well as others that plan to explore the online retail industry in India.
(Editing by Steven Millward)