The hyperlocal market is going through an interesting transition. While platforms like Google Maps and JustDial solved the hyperlocal discovery problem, products like Swiggy and UrbanCompany solved the hyperlocal services and transactions problem. With businesses around the world moving towards a social model of selling, communities are taking centrestage. In the hyperlocal market, this necessitates a hyperlocal collaboration platform that brands and businesses can leverage.
A similar transition happened in the web world. Web 1.0 was the read-only era with home pages and web forms. Web 2.0 was the read-write era with blogs and web applications. Web 3.0 is the portable and personal era with live streams and smart applications. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are all web collaboration platforms that connect people for a purpose while providing a platform for brands to engage with its users.
Around 70% of our lives are spent in our neighbourhoods and communities, yet it’s an irony that we do not have many hyperlocal collaboration platforms. Multiple chat groups, noticeboards, emails, newspaper inserts, paper slip-ins and word of mouth – the community-level collaboration is very unstructured and informal. Is it time to digitize neighbourhoods and communities?
Consumer statistics seem to have the answer to this question. Nearly 2/3rds of Smartphone users look for local info every week and 1/4ths, every day. Even interesting is the fact that nearly 3/4ths of local searches end up in a physical visit and more than 1/4ths of these searches result in a conversion. A 25% conversion, that’s the power of the local network.
Closely related with local commerce is social commerce that has suddenly caught the attention of everyone. While the world of e-commerce allowed anyone in the world to sell to anyone else in the world, it did not connect the buyers and sellers directly. Social commerce seems to have made this connection or may have just digitized the world of commerce that has always existed, in our neighbourhoods and communities.
But is there a powerful interplay between social commerce and local? Do we need a Facebook for our neighbourhoods?
Nextdoor in the US has exactly done this and has been quite successful in not just building a social network for the neighbourhood but also a marketplace around it. The Indian and Asian markets are different, and so the product has to be different. For example, we have vaguely defined public neighbourhoods with a loose community model and clearly defined gated communities with tighter social collaboration. But the pain points and use cases remain the same.
At IamHere, we took this problem and went about solving it. Today, there are runners discovering each other on the app, there are lounges hiring musicians through the app, there are bakers promoting their cakes on the app, there are homemakers promoting their tuition classes on the app, there are people hosting events and parties for their neighbours.
While we at IamHere are personally excited about the problems we are able to solve through our location-first social network, it is heartening to think about the endless possibilities of hyperlocal collaboration. We may soon have a Facebook for the neighbourhood, Instagram for the neighbourhood, Twitter for the neighbourhood and LinkedIn for the neighbourhood. Or they may perhaps be on the same platform. But as much as the hyperlocal market should be watched out for, the hyperlocal collaboration market should catch our attention as well, for the latter could emerge as a hosting platform for multiple hyperlocal markets to be built over it.
Is it time for the hyperlocal discovery and transactions markets to move over to hyperlocal collaboration? Perhaps!
Article By – Naren Kumar, Co-founder & CEO at IamHere