YouTube is shutting down its live social commerce app Simsim less than two years after acquiring the Indian startup, but insists it is committed to creating “a seamless shopping experience for viewers and supporting companies of creators”.
Simsim sought to help small businesses in India transition to e-commerce by leveraging the growing popularity of video and creators. The startup’s eponymous app served as a platform to connect local businesses, influencers and customers.
YouTube acquired Simsim in mid-2021 in a deal that valued the Indian company at more than $70 million, TechCrunch first reported. At the time, YouTube said the acquisition would allow the video streaming giant to help small businesses and retailers in India reach new customers in an even more powerful way.
With over 450 million users, the South Asian market is YouTube’s largest. The Google-owned video platform also sees India as a testing ground for experimentation (YouTube Go and Shorts are two examples). Its acquisition of Simsim came at a time when YouTube was beginning to explore ways to extend the video platform into an e-commerce engine. .
The thesis in India, according to Good Capital’s Rohan Malhotra, who backed both Meesho and Simsim, was: “Micro-influencers are more effective at building a targeted audience (growth), creating entertaining experiences (retention), creating trust (higher value) and messaging personalization (conversion).
“Mainstream social platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) cannot monetize significantly through ad-supported models in India; this paves the way for more deeply integrated transactional platforms. New internet users in India need an interactive, seller-led experience to replicate the offline e-commerce experience that this market is used to,” he told TechCrunch earlier.
The time for the thesis may not have arrived yet. Last year, Facebook shut down its live shopping feature as it focused on Reels. But not everyone gives up. Amazon, which acquired Indian social commerce startup GlowRoad last year, has introduced QVC-style live shopping to the country.
The retail group’s service, called Amazon Live, brings together an army of more than 150 creators to host live streams and plug products into videos. The idea is that influencers, with already large audiences, will drive their fans to the shopping app and entice them to purchase products. They get a discount every time they are able to make a sale.
YouTube doesn’t stray from the category either. A spokesperson said Thursday that the company “will work with creators to introduce more monetization opportunities for creators through an affiliate program and more shopping features through long-form videos, shorts, and videos.” live streams on YouTube in 2023″.
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