Could WhatsApp Be the Next Big E-commerce Channel?

Could WhatsApp Be the Next Big E-commerce Channel?

If you think WhatsApp is only for occasional chats with friends, think again.

WhatsApp for business is growing in importance – over 175 million people send messages to a WhatsApp Business account every day.

During the Facebook annual report F8 Update conference, WhatsApps Head of Business Products, Ajit Varma, shared how the platform is developing as a customer service and sales tool.

In this blog post, you will learn how WhatsApp works for businesses and how you can use it to increase ecommerce sales.

How does WhatsApp work for businesses?

WhatsApp is a messenger tool that is mainly used for friend and family chats.

WhatsApp can also be used for business purposes.

With the WhatsApp for Business API, brands can use WhatsApp as a home for customer service chats, timely notifications, and product recommendations.

Source: WhatsApp

Since the app is comfortable and familiar for most users, it is an easy platform to reach and connect with customers.

With the WhatsApp for Business API, brands can benefit from automated responses to frequently asked questions (similar to Facebook messenger chatbots) and provide customer service on a large scale.

In addition, the further development of WhatsApp Pay – an in-chat payment function that allows users to conduct transactions – opens up a whole range of possibilities for integrated e-commerce on the platform.

For example, when a user contacts a company to ask about a specific product or service, brands can make recommendations on WhatsApp.

With WhatsApp Pay, users could soon buy a product directly in the app – which streamlines the end-to-end purchasing process.

Would you like to learn more about how social commerce is developing? Check out this blog post: How social media is changing the online shopping experience

Facebook F8 2021: New WhatsApp Business functions

During Facebook’s annual F8 conference, Ajit Varma, WhatsApp’s Head of Business Products, announced some major updates to the WhatsApp Business API:

  1. Timely notifications
  2. New message formats
  3. Add to Cart
  4. Block / report a company

Timely notifications

Companies will soon be able to send customers timely notifications and updates via WhatsApp, “to let people know when an item is back in stock, for example”.

WhatsApp for Business for

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

This can also be information updates, reminders to book an appointment or the latest product offers.

New message formats

Varma also announced plans to introduce new messaging formats to help businesses streamline conversations, solve problems, and increase conversions.

The first of these is List messages, which allows brands to present a menu of up to 10 options for customers to choose from.

WhatsApp for Business for

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

This means that customers no longer have to enter an answer, which significantly lowers the barrier to entry.

Next Up, Answer buttons – a new format that allows users to choose from up to three options with a quick tap.

WhatsApp for Business for

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

Brands can customize their list and response options through their WhatsApp Business API account.

Add to Cart

Perhaps most notably, Varma shared some key ecommerce additions to the WhatsApp Business API.

Customers can now “add to the shopping cart” within WhatsApp – and will soon be able to pay directly in the app.

WhatsApp for Business for

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

“We are developing new tools to enable the end-to-end commerce journey in WhatsApp,” said Varma. “These features will provide a richer shopping experience.”

“In the future, our goal is to get payments on our business products,” he added.

Block / report a company

Along with an influx of new features, Varma said the company is looking at ways to moderate the way businesses work on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp not only limits the number of messages a brand can send and monitors “value” metrics, but also introduces ways for users to block or report a company.

WhatsApp for Business for

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

Users can justify their decision, which WhatsApp will share with companies as feedback, Varma said.

These new features make the WhatsApp Business API a compelling choice for brands looking to improve their customer experience.

“We are building a platform that enables you to be creative and develop ideas that fit well with conversions and flow into the enormous reach of WhatsApp,” said Varma.

“There will be very successful companies that are completely based on WhatsApp.”

Stay up to date with the latest social media news, events, and strategy tips. Sign up for Later’s free weekly newsletter today:

Written by

Jillian Warren

Jillian is the editor of Later. As an expert in social media strategy and content marketing, she has worked in both London and New York. Next up? Lisbon and Paris! You can reach her on Instagram here: @jillwrren.