The social commerce sector in India has the potential to grow to twice the size of the current e-commerce market within ten years, a recent report by Bain & Company, in partnership with Sequoia India says. The report, titled ‘The Future of Commerce in India – the rise of social commerce’, states that India’s social commerce market has a Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of $1.5 to $2 billion and that it has the potential to reach $60 to $70 billion by 2030, driven by formats ranging from conversational commerce on chat platforms to video-led commerce, or a vibrant social reseller community.
Social commerce has been democratising e-commerce by connecting brands, consumers, and sellers on a single platform. Leading this revolution is the three-year-old social reselling platform, GlowRoad.
Founded in 2017 by Dr. Sonal Verma, Kunal Sinha, and Shekhar Sahu, along with Nitesh Pant and Nilesh Padariya, GlowRoad is a social commerce platform that lets users resell products directly from manufacturers and suppliers through social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. GlowRoad manages the entire process from managing suppliers, payment, shipment, returns, etc, letting users just to share and earn.
The founding team of GlowRoad
How it works
GlowRoad aims to help suppliers who have good quality products at a great price reach the maximum number of customers at the lowest cost. Whether a business is old or new, online for the first time, or even set up in remote locations, GlowRoad has enabled hundreds of suppliers to scale up their business phenomenally. All that a supplier (manufacturer or stockist) needs to do to start selling is to sign up and upload their digital catalog.
The resellers using the GlowRoad app then choose the products they want to sell or think can sell, and start promoting them in their own networks over WhatsApp or social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram. If someone places an order for products shared by the reseller, GlowRoad takes care of delivering the product and collecting the money, and submitting the profits to the reseller’s bank account. So a reseller makes money without having to invest in buying inventory. This model is also called Dropshipping.
Suppliers on GlowRoad offer resellers goods at wholesale prices. The resellers then decide what margin to charge on top of that. Resellers can make an online storefront at no cost on the GlowRoad platform, and market it through WhatsApp and Facebook groups or social circles. GlowRoad monetises by charging its suppliers commission on sale and resellers can unlock more premium features for a price.
Simply put, the reseller gets to earn from home based on the number of sales they make for products sourced from suppliers, via their own channels. While Fashion is the biggest category on GlowRoad, with Indian ethic wear being the most popular item in it, jewelry and cosmetics are also very popular.
Lowered costs, no shipping hassles , Trust
The dropshipping business model does not require one to keep products in stock, enabling millions of people to start an online store and earn from home, all without having to risk stocking up on inventory of products or even order fulfillment. This model has been providing aspiring entrepreneurs, mainly women, a low-risk opportunity to start their own retail businesses from home. With this, GlowRoad has been making margin payouts to few lakh people every month. As per Google Play Store, they have about 13 million app downloads and over 10 million registered members.
As per the Bain report, nearly 75% of purchases are made from a known source. Social commerce fits perfectly over here as the end customers are known to resellers and are more likely to buy products through them.
Speaking about what makes GlowRoad stand out among competitors in the market, Dr. Sonal Verma, one of the co-founders, says, “Dependable quality and service is our USP. There is rigorous supplier verification and ongoing quality checks to make sure that the reseller can sell with confidence. There is complete transparency in order tracking, returns, and refunds. Now we are also getting suppliers to develop designs for us so that our resellers can offer something unique to their customers.”
Growing by leaps and bounds
In April 2019, GlowRoad raised $10 million in a Series B round from CDH Investments.The round also saw participation from early backer Accel
Partners, which had put in $2 million in a Series A round in 2017. In May 2020, the startup further raised $11.5 million in a Series B+ round from Korea Investment Partners and Singapore-based Vertex Ventures.
“The funding from Accel Partners in 2017 helped us in setting up a professional team and build the platform,” Dr Sonal said. “It accelerated the whole business and we continued to raise more funds of over $20 million from multiple marquee investors such as Vertex, CDH and Korea Investment Partners. ”
The goal of the company is to grow profitably with scale, Kunal Sinha said.
He added, “GlowRoad has given a run for the money to heavily funded competitors who have focused on growing at the cost of discounting. GlowRoad is possibly the only social commerce company to turn profitable. We have a razor sharp focus to bring joy to the suppliers and resellers who have used our platform. Our retention rates are the best in the industry and we continue to build block by block without getting distracted with multiple business opportunities that come when you are growing so fast.”
India has the second-highest number of users with mobile phones, over 550 million. India is still in the early stages of ecommerce. Only 8% of Indians shop online. With enough room for growth, GlowRoad and other forms of social commerce companies such as video streaming companies are gearing up for major growth.