The pandemic made businesses harness the power of social media to target consumers, here’s how Facebook is aiding brands in their digital commerce journeys
- Since the pandemic, brands have had to speed up their digital transformation. Many brands are now using Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp not just to stay connected with consumers but to sell their products directly to them as well.
- Brands are also increasingly using innovative technologies like AR and VR to engage with consumers on social media platforms.
- Arun Srinivas, Director and Head - Global Business Group at Facebook India tells us the role Facebook has been playing in helping brands in their social media commerce journeys.
In India, over 416 million people access Facebook every month. Of these, 255 million people access Facebook every day, thereby presenting a massive opportunity for brands to target consumers where they spend a lot of their time virtually.
“Over the last few years, and especially in the last 1.5 years, we have seen consumer behavior change drastically. Sectors across the spectrum, be it online groceries or more traditional sectors like banking, have understood the power of digital and have been asking how to make their consumer’s lives simpler. Last year, a traditional organization like the State Bank of India realized that people were still coming to their branches to check their balances or print statements. That’s when they used Facebook Messenger for these tasks and were able to serve close to 600,000 people. Many other sectors, like auto or fashion, have been hit hard by the pandemic. So a lot of businesses have really had to pivot, to see how they can get the consumer’s interests going. We have partnered with both Maruti and Hyundai where we have done a series of virtual launches where customers have got to use technologies like AR and VR to understand what the inside of the car really feels like. It is also about training people about how they can leverage our offerings to best serve their customers. So it’s not so much about digital advertising spends but it’s almost like a change in some parts of their business modelwhere they are looking at hyper-local solutions by leveraging Facebook,” explained Arun Srinivas, Director and Head - Global Business Group at Facebook India.
How Facebook is helping brands stay connected with audiences
When the pandemic hit, brands big and small were faced with major supply chain disruptions. For many, business came to a complete standstill. However, platforms like Facebook helped them stay connected with the audiences. Once things started slowly opening up, there was a change in consumer behavior where people started getting comfortable with buying online and a lot of brands across the spectrum realized the benefits that came out of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp’s massive reach.
Facebook’s consumer survey with Boston Consulting Group showed that digital adoption and online shopping in India had accelerated by 2-3 years in the country within months of the pandemic.
The pandemic also pushed a lot of offline retailers who had been easing into their online journeys speed up their digital transformation. This has prompted a host of innovations like BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In Store), to make their shift to online quick and seamless. Businesses in the watches and jewellery segments that have adopted BOPIS are seeing traction from consumers who are comfortable shopping this way.
The advent of discovery commerce
Meanwhile, the pandemic also led to the advent of discovery commerce in India. Today, many consumers are increasingly discovering products and brands online. And as one of the most important channels of discovery in the virtual world, social media is an essential link in the path to purchase.
Explaining how discovery commerce is an important trend to watch out for, and how Facebook is aiding in its growth, Srinivas added, “If you look at the first phase of e-commerce, it was largely around, what you're clear on, what you're looking for, and then you look for the products within the same category, and then you end up buying those. But the pandemic has really started shaping the next stage of evolution in commerce, which is discovery. You discover a lot of these brands for the first time on your Facebook or Instagram profiles, you end up getting interested in the products and then you are directed to that particular website to fulfill the transaction. Brands come up with new products or innovations, but as a brand, how do you really make sure consumers know about the launch? Discovery commerce is all about discovering a product on your feed, debating on whether to buy the product or not and then eventually finding a way to transact. This is a trend that we are seeing a lot in the US and Canada but we are also seeing early signs of that in India.”