WhatsApp continues to be one of the leading messaging apps worldwide. With over 1 billion active users each day, it’s safe to say that their success and relevance will last. As with many other successful apps in existence, businesses came up with creative ways to use it for their benefit. Numerous establishments worldwide started to use WhatsApp to directly stay in touch with their customers from a single device. Though the idea and practice sounded clever in theory, there was also a flip side to the practice: customers were often skeptical.
Unlike popular social media platforms in which higher profile accounts of public interest are verified, WhatsApp didn’t have that feature. As a result, people were unsure whether the “businesses” that were messaging them were actually authentic. That has been a valid concern, considering the various forms of scams, spam, and viruses that can make their way into our devices if we’re not careful with our usage.
Well, WhatsApp heard the cries of the businesses and their customers, and they decided to take action. They are working to help people better connect with the businesses that matter most to them by testing new features that solve the challenges that have previously been faced, and they are going to go above and beyond.
In addition to providing verified profiles (green badge to help users distinguish people from businesses,) WhatsApp is working on creating a “free WhatsApp business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, eCommerce sites, and banks.” These solutions will help businesses do a better job in providing their customers with useful notifications such as flight times, flash sales, and delivery confirmations.
This is going to be very promising for online retailers worldwide, so long as it is used strategically as a platform for direct communication with consumers. Here are some ideas of ways WhatApp Business can be potentially be used in eCommerce:
- Internal Team Communication – This might already be a given for many companies that created groups for different departments. But we can for sure expect a more amplified experience in the Business app that will further streamline communication with suppliers, vendors and the like.
- Customer Communication – If your business does followups through direct phone calls, you might want to give WhatsApp Business a try. You will get noticeably more engagement and better responses by going this route. Doing this will also allow your company to be more informal in your approach, as that’s just the nature of SMS messages anyway.
- Customer Support – Due to its reach, WhatsApp would be an excellent tool for customer support. Think about it- wouldn’t you rather just send your inquiries over WhatsApp, than call a helpdesk number or fill out a form and submit a ticket? Of course, there would be some limitations, as it wouldn’t be practical for companies that receive support inquiries at large volumes on a daily basis.
- Marketing and Promotions – This may be a no-brainer to many, but must still be mentioned. You can use WhatsApp to send promotional texts, images, audio files, and short videos about your products to your customers across the world. Unlike email delivery platforms, the chances of delivery and open rates over WhatsApp would be significantly higher. But don’t forget, it will have to be done tastefully. You wouldn’t want to overwhelm your customers with messages that could be perceived as spammy. It’ll be best to use this on loyal customers that already know and love your brand, instead of new ones.
Facebook bought WhatsApp for $22B in 2014. At that point, it was already widely popular, especially outside of the US, for serving as a free alternative to SMS text messaging that operates well even under the slowest connections. This is the first indication we’re seeing of Facebook working on trying to generate a form of revenue to profit from the acquisition. Businesses (especially enterprises) will be charged to use WhatsApp Business in due time, as the product is still in beta.
Bottom line is that WhatApp Business will be a game changer for online retailers that regularly connect with their customers. The WhatsApp team is currently testing WhatsApp Business through a closed pilot program. If you’re interested in giving it a try in this stage, you can apply by filling out this survey.