Eighteen-year-old Disha, an ardent follower of the Harry Potter series, incorporated her love for the characters on her clothes & accessories and wore them every day. Getting noticed amongst her peers, her quirky sense of styling soon became a topic of discussion and an object of imitation. Disha had her mother to thank for the beautifully translated and intricate artwork. However, the situation here was mutually propitious as while Disha was happily flaunting the eccentric artwork, her mother was secretly rekindling her childhood hobby. Upon witnessing an overwhelming response, Disha’s mother decided to turn her 'pastime hobby' into a 'hobby business' from the comforts of her home. Combining the potential of talent with the influence of contemporary social media tools like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter, her business grew in no time. What started from the Kitchen Table for her daughter, now could reach anyone anywhere.
This is what epitomises the theory of social selling. When simply defining the concept, it is a skill of leveraging popular social interactive networks to better connect with the audience, understand their motives and preferences, with the intention of converting the interaction into sales. Though social selling has always prevailed in our society, commonly running in the social groups of our mothers, it has recently gained relevance due to the growing influence of social media. The business in social selling is less dependent on the technological infrastructure and more dependent on building relationships & establishing credibility. Today social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, blog posts & YouTube videos are used more as an influencer and trade channel than for mainstream communication. The contemporary Homepreneurs are the primary beneficiaries of the changing trend. According to a recent report by consulting firm Zinnov, the number of Homepreneurs selling lifestyle and clothing products has reached two million. The report also points out that with the help of basic internet tools, these Homepreneurs are clocking business worth $ 8-9 billion in gross sales and are projected to strike up to $48-60 billion by 2022.The report clearly interprets the growing impact and importance of social selling in the contemporary business environment.
Even though the market estimates a favourable future for social selling, some factors that have for long fiddled with the Homepreneurs from gaining customer confidence are the absence of Cash on Delivery, reverse delivery and other buyer guarantees. To help them overcome these obstacles and further instigate social selling, online marketplaces & e-commerce websites are introducing several tools to perfect social selling. These tools empower Homepreneurs to integrate their social media pages on a single interface and conduct transactions via all the platforms on that single window. Particular attention has been given to the audience on platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp, considering the general preference consensus and transactional safety reasons. Homepreneurs selling on Instagram can link their accounts so that when potential buyers express interest in a product but don't buy it immediately, they can be contacted via different modes of communication and be reminded about the product they enquired about on Instagram. WhatsApp integration is another beneficial social selling tool, owing to the popularity of the platform for enabling ‘peer to peer’ communication. They can make use of the WhatsApp bubble pop-up feature to directly share the 'Buy Now' links with the WhatsApp contact or groups. Owing to this feature, small scale sellers can leverage various personal contacts and close-knitted communities in the forms of WhatsApp groups for promoting their products and bolstering the sales.
Not only is e-commerce sector steadily introducing means, but is also modifying its strategies to encourage more Homepreneurs and small sellers into social selling. Offering cash back or premium benefits to Homepreneurs that are actively involved in sharing their products online are some of the ways in which e-commerce companies are equipping the target seller audience with the realms of social selling. While the exercise boosts their digital footprint, they also end up earning handsome rewards and benefits for staying socially active.
The dawn of the high-speed internet age and the growing access to smartphones has given birth to a new era of buyers as well as sellers. The buyers of today are trying out new avenues of shopping more than ever, and the Homepreneurs are extravagantly leveraging this opportunity to enhance their digital network and social selling orbit. In essence, the need for business to evolve with the changing times is driving them to social selling. Making selling more intimate, fun, and engaging, Social Selling is surely the way forward for the ambitious brands and homepreneurs of today.