Facebook is testing a “Buy” button feature that will let merchants turn their fan pages into stores and sell directly from there. Here’s why it is likely to be a huge hit with Indian women.

Social selling (selling within social circles) among women is popular in India

Last month, I had gone to a house-warming ceremony of a cousin of mine. One of the guests had brought some handmade vanity purses. After attending the ceremony,  she intended to go and deliver them to her retailer. But guess what, one lady noticed them, asked if she can buy one and quickly bought one. Other ladies watching over got inspired and followed suit. All the 20 odd purses were sold in less than 20 minutes.  In fact a lot of women were disappointed because there were none left for them to buy. Of course, they promptly placed orders with her and they were promised that they will have their product delivered within a week.

Social selling (selling within social circles) among women is popular  in India. Women have been selling sweaters, garments, sarees, embroidered stuff and other handicrafts to their friends, neighbors, colleagues or relatives. Most of us may have witnessed or heard about transactions taking place between women over the fence, at social gatherings, at kitty parties or even at the workplace. They don’t even need to do any marketing or any hard-selling. Women willingly buy from their women friends and acquaintances of first degree, second degree, third degree….etc.

Recently, a colleague who is a Tupperware dealer effortlessly got more than about 25 orders within 10 minutes. All she did was brought her new Tupperware water bottle to office for her  personal use.  People asked her about the product, learned  that she is a dealer, and that was enough inspiration / temptation / motivation for them to tell her how badly they wanted those bottles for themselves.

This kind of social selling has already gone online, particularly on Facebook.

A lot of women small business entrepreneurs are selling sarees, fashion, jewellery and other  female vanities via their status updates – by posting a picture of the product, the product specs and the pricing.  Buyers who get interested after seeing the status update in their newsfeed inbox the seller about their intention to buy and the rest of the transaction takes place via a combination of back and forth inboxing, email, WhatsApp, phone calls and SMS.

A typical selling / buying process

  • Seller posts a status update about the product with the pricing information on their Facebook personal profile or their business page.
  • Buyer responds with a comment that she’s interested in buying.
  • Seller asks buyer to inbox her for the next steps.
  • The next steps typically include sharing of payment methods.
  • Even the phone numbers, email would be shared, so the rest of the conversation can continue on WhatsApp, phone or email.
  • The buyer makes payment by mailing a cheque / online transfer and then texts / emails the seller to inform her about the payment made.
  • Once the payment is received, the seller WhatsApps / SMSs the buyer to acknowledge that.
  • The seller ships the product and shares the shipping details with the buyer.
  • Tracking / delay apologies is also done via WhatsApp / email.
  • Buyer WhatsApps / SMSs seller on receiving the product and thanks her.

With this kind of  readiness and willingness to go go to extraordinary lengths to buy after seeing interesting products their connections are selling on Facebook, the Facebook buy button is bound to  get more than just love from Indian women when it reduces the whole process to just one click.

Women are harnessing the power of  Facebook to sell fashion and accessories. Most of them don’t have any storefront and they are not using any ecommerce  tools. All their marketing and sales is taking place via Facebook. They buy from wholesalers, or produce their own stuff and then put them up for sale via their status updates. These Facebook sellers are not even promoting their posts or hawking around or spamming anyone.  All that they are doing is just posting a status update and those on their friends list as well as higher degree connections are immediately getting inspired and they are happily buying. The Facebook buy button will go a long way in empowering these brilliant women entrepreneurs who are making the most out of their Facebook presence.

With 100M Facebook users in India and almost a third of them being women, the Facebook buy button will most likely be a hit in India.  Women also buy because other women bought. When women see purchase activity of their friends in their newsfeed, that will further boost sales.

As with any new technology, there will be some “new shoe friction” with the Facebook buy button – but not insurmountable.

This post is to reason out why I think the Facebook buy button will “click” with Indian women, but it does not mean that it will not work with men. It may well fit into the buying behaviors of Indian men, but I’m not exploring that in this post.