Simsim, a social commerce startup in India, said Friday that it has raised $ 16 million in seven months of its existence by trying to replicate the offline retail experience in the digital world with the help of influential people.
The Gurgaon-based startup said it raised $ 16 million in funding rounds from Seed, Series A and Series B from Accel Partners, Shunwei Capital, and good capital. (The most recent round, Series B, was $ 8 million in size).
“Although e-commerce players offer significant discounts, most sales in India are still made in physical stores. There is a simple reason for that: trust, "explained Amit Bagaria, co-founder of Simsim, in an interview with Newsdio.
The vast majority of Indians still do not feel comfortable reading the descriptions, and that also in English, he said.
Simsim is taking a different approach to take advantage of this opportunity. In its application, users watch short videos produced in local languages by influential people who apply beauty products or try on dresses and explain the ins and outs of the products. Under the video, the elements appear while they are discussed and users can touch them to continue with the purchase.
“The videos help users of education about the category. Many of them may not have worn facial masks, for example. But it becomes easier when the community influencer can show them how to apply it, ”said Rohan Malhotra, managing partner of Good Capital, in an interview with Newsdio.
The influencers often sell a variety of items and users can follow them to browse through the previous catalog and be aware of future sales, said Bagaria, who previously worked at the e-commerce company of the financial services firm Paytm .
"This interactivity allows Simsim to imitate the experience of offline stores," said Malhotra, one of the first investors in Meesho, also a social commerce startup that last year received the support of Facebook and Prosus Ventures.
"The beauty for me of social commerce is that it is not changing consumer behavior. People are used to using WhatsApp – And it's working for Meesho. Over here, you get the experience of touching and feeling and you can mentally imagine the items much more clearly, ”he said.
Simsim manages the inventories, which it obtains from manufacturers and brands, and works with several logistics agents to deliver the products.
“Several Indian cities and towns are some of the largest production centers of several high quality items. But these people have not been able to sell efficiently online or grow their network in the offline world. At Simsim, they can work with influencers and market their products, ”said Bagaria.
The platform today works with more than 1,200 influential people, who earn a commission for each item they sell, said Bagaria, who plans to increase this figure to 100,000 in the coming years.
Although Simsim, which has been open to users for six months, is still in its initial stage, it is beginning to show some growth. It has accumulated more than one million users, most of whom live in small cities and towns, and is selling thousands of items every day, Bagaria said.
He said the platform, which currently supports Hindi, Tamil, Bengali and English, will add more than a dozen additional languages by the end of the year. In about a month, Simsim also plans to start showing live videos, where influencers can answer user queries.
A handful of new businesses have emerged in India in recent years trying to rethink the electronic commerce market in the nation. Amazon and Walmart, which have invested billions of dollars in India, have also taken note. Both have added support for Hindi in the past two years and have made several more adjustments to their platforms to expand their reach.