As WhatsApp forays into the e-commerce space and continues to expand the range of services it offers businesses, it is increasingly being seen as an ideal tool for customer engagement and a valuable platform to enable conversational commerce. This very concept of selling products and services to customers using WhatsApp as the primary channel has given rise to ‘WhatsApp Commerce.’
There are a number of factors that point to WhatsApp Commerce being undoubtedly poised as the next big thing for brands. Be it WhatsApp’s expanding capabilities and enhanced features, the move towards conversational commerce, and ‘contactless’ shopping - WhatsApp is clearly shaping the future of commerce. WhatsApp Commerce will expand ways for people to check out available products and make purchases right from a chat, which they already use every day to connect with friends and family. It is crucial for businesses to stay on top of these developments and ensure they are ready to engage on their customers’ preferred platform WhatsApp. The launch of WhatsApp Pay in India will further strengthen WhatsApp’s position as a Conversational Commerce platform.
COVID-19 and Contactless Shopping
The COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing norms have catapulted the world of commerce and brought about massive consumer behavior changes. One of these is the need for contactless shopping. And now there is no turning back.
The global disruption caused by the pandemic has forever changed the way people shop and interact with brands. Those who were not avid online shoppers have been converted, and businesses that relied on the traditional way of operating via physical stores have had to rethink their business models.
Worldwide retail e-commerce sales grew 27.6% during 2020, for a total of US$4.280 trillion, according to eMarketer’s “Global Ecommerce Update 2021” report. The forecast for worldwide e-commerce growth in 2021 is forecasted at 14.3%.
This growing trend for online shopping and e-commerce sales signals that WhatsApp is exceptionally valuable for businesses as one of the predominant commerce platforms – to seize the opportunity to reach a larger audience and boost sales. India, WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 400 million WhatsApp users, offers a captive base that could be an asset for an online foray.
The Strength of WhatsApp as a Platform to Enable Conversational Commerce
The scale of WhatsApp as the world’s largest messaging app, combined with its features that facilitate rich content for a smooth customer experience, makes it a must-have platform for brands to step into conversational commerce.
WhatsApp is already the platform of choice for people to chat with friends and family, so the logical next step is using it to chat with a business to make inquiries or purchases. For customers, it gets effortless to chat with brands via WhatsApp and they will readily take to WhatsApp as a shopping tool when given the option.
But to make customers’ experience more interactive and conversational, WhatsApp Business added additional features. These include quick replies and interactive buttons that enable users to progress faster in their conversations with businesses. The recent introduction of buttons in chat, list messages and quick replies brings interactive elements to make conversations frictionless.
Customers can now select an option from a list of reply buttons rather than type complete answers from a list of options. You can configure and add interactive buttons such as quick replies and call-to-action to make interactions faster and provide a frictionless journey. Using buttons guides the logical conversation flow and helps automate your internal process with pre-defined answers, particularly when choosing multiple options.
List Buttons, a much-awaited feature from brands, will enable a more seamless customer experience while purchasing things or getting customer support. Instead of going through a numbered menu and pressing a number on the list, a list of buttons makes the experience faster and seamless.
Automated messages enable you to respond to customers 24/7, so customers never feel neglected or overlooked. This feature can also help you notify customers of waiting time, follow up with links to FAQ resources, welcome messages to a new customer, or even prompt users to schedule a time to chat.
Re-engaging Customers with Personalized Selling
When you engage a customer over WhatsApp, you understand the context of their purchase journey during the conversation far better than you would if they were transacting on an app or a website.
When the customer drops off from a conversation and later starts a new conversation with your business, you can recover their cart and remind them of items they had selected earlier for purchase. You can even offer them a personalized offer, a discount, or an add-on, to nudge them towards completing the purchase.
Businesses can re-engage customers over WhatsApp by sending them notifications and reminders to encourage them to complete the purchase. You can also send them shipping and delivery alerts to their recent purchases.
With WhatsApp Business API, you can transact and sell your products/services to users on just one application. WhatsApp Commerce is the safest bet your business can make today!
Although WhatsApp API supports different types of messages, the exact features you get depend on your Business Solution Provider (BSP). So, it’s good to check with your BSP if they support the type of message you need to send your customers. WhatsApp exclusively selects those BSPs to offer direct API access to the WhatsApp Business API service. To get fast and easy access to the WhatsApp Business API, you need to work with a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider like CM.com.
Attract, Engage, and Convert Customers with WhatsApp Chatbot
Throughout each step of their journey, customers may want to contact you for all kinds of questions. WhatsApp can help grow your reach and make it easier for customers to get in contact with you. But won’t your reachability put extra stress on your customer care team? Connecting to the WhatsApp Business solution promises to help save them time.
WhatsApp Chatbot can help you grow conversations, reduce pressure on customer care and minimize friction on the path to purchase by:
1. Making the ordering process conversational with WhatsApp bots
Unlike on a website, you see a seamless ordering experience and product recommendations in WhatsApp. You can initiate and have a quick 2-way conversation with a bot like you have with a sales rep in a physical store. E.g., you’re looking for a product on the website, it would take around ten clicks to find the right product. But it happens seamlessly over a quick conversation over WhatsApp.
2. Upsell to customers with contextually relevant recommendations over WhatsApp
WhatsApp enables you to integrate with Customer Data Platform (CDP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and with your brand’s enterprise account along with internal systems. This allows you to unify customer data and make use of past customer data for making personalized product recommendations.
By understanding the purchase journey over the course of the conversation, bots can make more relevant product recommendations increasing the chances of sales and resale. You can optimize the conversational flows for a bot to re-engage customers and boost sales (through notifications, alerts, reminders)
3. Offer post-sales support via WhatsApp chatbot
Customer support over WhatsApp can be handled either with a WhatsApp chatbot or with human agents. With the incoming messaging flows, it’s critical to think about integrating automated flows. It will help automate your internal process and provide extra support to your team. You can use native features of WhatsApp Business API, such as interactive templates with buttons that give pre-defined answers. But you can also make use of a bot that will start the conversation with your customers.
Adding a chatbot to your WhatsApp Business messaging flow will help handle recurring jobs. With a smart handover at the right time, you can empower your agents to focus on the conversations that matter. However, when using a bot, you will always need a live agent escalation possibility. When you need support for closed conversations, where pre-defined options and answers guide your customers in their service journey, choose a Scripted Chatbot. When you need to automate entire conversations, use an AI-powered chatbot
Benefits of a WhatsApp Chatbot:
- Send helpful notifications and deliver superior customer support with WhatsApp Business API
- Automate customer support and handle more queries with bots
- Transfer to a human agent for a high impact conversation
- Process requests, orders, and payments in real-time
- Deliver an omnichannel customer experience