January 16, 2021, Kolkata: “I thought why not do something via social media in the lockdown period?” said Chandrani Satpathi, a 30-year-old businesswoman. There has been a massive spike in online businesses through social media in an unorganized way especially in the lockdown period.
Until couple of months, online business meant shopping sites such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc. but now the definition has quite changed. There has been a rise in Facebook groups made exclusively for online business where sellers would have to book slots to do live videos from the page and customers can place orders accordingly. This makeshift set up has now almost become a full-time job for ‘admins’ who generate revenue through commission and slot booking fees that is dependent on the duration of videos. “I thought why not make a Facebook group exclusively for women to sell and buy products from? It would help business women to reach out to more customers in a safe space but I never imagined the intensity of its growth.” said Barnali Ghosh who is the admin of a Facebook group of 150,000 women.
Instagram and Facebook live options have indeed become a boon for numerous small scales, start up and established sellers as they can now sell anything and everything online beginning from readymade garments to cutlery to even fresh fish. “It almost sounds bizarre to me when I think about how this industry happened” said Smita Ray, owner of a shoe store that remain closed for months during the lockdown but made sales online. Chandrani who sells bags essentially but also sarees and bedsheets said that these live sessions made her reach out to a huge audience who could sit in the comfort of their homes, check the products and most importantly avoid crowd during the pandemic but could also do their needful shopping.
What began merely as live in Facebook groups have now taken a much more concrete shape as now there are numerous groups specific to products and area, making customer interaction easier. Susmita Biswas, a 22-year-old Jewelry maker and seller has made profits through Instagram and Facebook lives and says “I can also avoid field delivery in this pandemic as all the transaction and delivery procedure is done online.” This growth is perhaps one of the positive things that happened out of a pandemic.