YouTube enters social commerce in India with acquisition of simsim

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files

Video streaming platform, YouTube on Tuesday said that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire two-year old startup simsim, marking its foray in the highly contested social commerce sector in India.

According to Youtube, by acquiring simsim the goal is to help small businesses and retailers in India reach new customers in even more powerful ways, it said in a company blog.

There will be no immediate changes to simsim app, as it continues operating independently, with YouTube working on ways to showcase simsim offers to YouTube viewers, it added.

“As more and more shopping happens online, video has an important role in helping viewers discover new products and find expert advice they trust. Every day, people come to YouTube to compare products, watch reviews and find recommendations from their favorite creators. Today, we are taking another step to help viewers discover and buy products from local businesses,” said Gautam Anand, vice president, YouTube Asia Pacific, in a company blog.

Founded in 2019, simsim is a social commerce platform that allows creators to post video reviews about products from local businesses. Viewers can then buy those products directly through the app.

Currently, videos on simsim are available in three regional languages including Hindi, Tamil, and Bengali, as it looks to enable retailers of all sizes to tap buyers in their preferred language.

For YouTube, the acquisition may lead to a larger access of creators, especially in simsim’s core markets of Tier-2 and -3 cities in India. While, for simsim, partnering with YouTube may help in targeting a bigger base of potential buyers, an analyst tracking the space spoke to Mint on condition of anonymity.

Earlier in September 2020, YouTube also launched Tik-Tok rival, YouTube Shorts, allowing users to upload 15 secondlong, short videos. Before its ban in 2020, Tik-Tok’s popularity in India was largely driven by audiences in smaller towns and cities.

“With over 2500 YouTube creators having over one million subscribers, and the success of YouTube Shorts, which we launched in India first, we’re committed to bringing the best of YouTube to India and growing the creator community by making it even easier for the new generation of mobile-first creators to get started,” added Anand.

Since inception, simsim has raised a little over $16 million in investments and was backed by the likes of Shunwei Capital, Accel and Good Capital.

“We started simsim with the mission of helping users across India shop online with ease, enabled through small sellers and brands showcasing and selling their products using the power of content by trusted influencers. Being a part of the YouTube and Google ecosystem furthers simsim in its mission. We cannot think of a better ecosystem in which to build simsim, in terms of technology, reach, creator networks and culture,” said simsim founders – Amit Bagaria, Kunal Suri and Saurabh Vashishtha, in a joint statement.

Recently, e-commerce major Flipkart, announced its entry into the social commerce space by launching Shopsy. Even InMobi’s short video platform, Glance forayed into the sector, in June this year, by acquiring social commerce venture, Shop101.

simsim also competes with other video-commerce platforms including BulBul and Kiko TV. Softbank-backed unicorn Meesho continues to be the market leader in the social commerce space, at present.

Indian social commerce platforms currently clock $1.5 billion – $2 billion in overall gross merchandise value (GMV). This number is expected to grow to almost $20 billion by 2025 and $70 billion by 2030, according to a study by Bain and Sequoia Capital.

The article was first published on livemint.com.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.