The demand for ‘contactless’ shopping has made conversational commerce the need of the hour. And WhatsApp is one such commerce platform that has been showing significant results in speeding up sales, marketing, and support initiatives.
Research suggests that brands using WhatsApp Business get 20% of customer interactions via WhatsApp and witnessed a 15% spike in overall sales.
With plenty of the latest advancements, WhatsApp is now a host to countless sales and marketing opportunities and is slowly transitioning to be a complete commerce platform for medium to large eCommerce businesses.
The following guide answers the what and why of WhatsApp commerce and how it can help transition your online business.
What is WhatsApp commerce?
WhatsApp commerce is an innovative business model that allows businesses to interact with customers, build loyalty, and advertise and sell products using WhatsApp as the primary contact channel.
WhatsApp is not limited to sending promotional messages and discounts to your customers. It is much more than a communication channel between brands and their consumers.
For instance, WhatsApp commerce lets you take customer orders without having them visit your website to place orders manually. Here’s when the WhatsApp Business API acts as a pillar for eCommerce brands looking to grow their sales and set up around-the-clock customer support.
Why should you pay attention to WhatsApp commerce?
1. Higher open and click-through rates on promotions sent on the messaging platform
Since WhatsApp is the most used messaging application, it does not come off as a surprise that your customers are 50% more likely to respond to your WhatsApp messages.
And the WhatsApp click-through rate stands at a staggering 70%, which is way superior to an average email click-through rate of 30%.
Most of your customers, regardless of age group, are prone to check their WhatsApp messages throughout the day. So there’s a high chance of your promotional messages being opened and clicked on — leading to more sales.
2. Shortens the sales cycle
Unlike the usual email advertising campaigns where customers are routed to your website or social media page to place an order, WhatsApp lets you showcase your products and lets your customers place orders — all from a single platform. So no more waiting on the website pages to load and browsing through tons of products to find the right one.
You can also create a product catalog within the app that includes the price, product code, descriptions, and more. This way, you shorten the sales funnel and nurture your clients to convert faster.
3. 1:1 interactions
WhatsApp lets you build a strong relationship with the customers as you could go a step further and use a live agent or a chatbot to guide customers to purchase items.
Such 1:1 customer-business interactions make the entire shopping experience more personalised and drive positive engagement.
4. A huge active customer base
WhatsApp has over 2.2 billion active users, which make up one-fourth of the world’s population. And the most striking statistic is how over 100 billion messages are exchanged each day on WhatsApp, making it the leading messaging platform of the decade.
The app has also recorded the highest open rate at 98%, which is found to be four times more than emails and SMS.
5. Direct and intuitive
Users rely heavily on WhatsApp as a personal communication channel with their friends and family. And as an eCommerce business, you must follow the same strategy and entice your customers with attractive content.
You can make your promotional messages and responses extra personalised by including WhatsApp’s rich media, such as GIFs, animations, emojis, images, videos, CTAs, and more, to fast-track conversions.
Here’s how an eCommerce brand uses various elements to structure an attractive promotional message along with a CTA:
6. Seamless checkout experience
Customers can have a store-like checkout experience where products are added to shopping carts and sent to businesses. Customers can add one cart per chat. And once sent, they can create new carts for additional purchases.
However, once shopping carts are sent to businesses, they cannot be edited and must await clearance by the business.
The WhatsApp Business API allows customers to select and add up to 99 items to a cart from a product catalog. This whole experience feels more personal and resembles an in-store shopping experience.
7. Offer non-stop customer support
Customer support combined with an instant messaging platform is a terrific solution to answer customer queries 24/7 and increase the likelihood of making a sale.
WhatsApp, integrated with intelligent AI chatbots, lets you resolve issues instantly and considerably reduces customer wait time. Such chatbots can be built to answer frequently asked questions or auto-direct to a live agent in case of complex queries.
8. Handle abandoned shopping carts
Abandoned shopping carts are ubiquitous in eCommerce businesses. But most brands fail to use them to their benefit.
With WhatsApp commerce, you can reduce the number of such instances and drive your customers to close a deal by sending them personalised reminders on WhatsApp and offering exclusive discounts for the eyed products.
9. Integrate with a multilingual chatbot
Roughly 5% of the world’s population speaks English natively. And since most brands cater to customers around the globe, engaging with them using their local languages is key to building customer loyalty for the longer term.
Using an AI-driven multilingual chatbot is one promising way to achieve better engagement and build meaningful relationships.
10. Generate high-quality leads
Conversational commerce driven by chatbots boosts conversions and creates more high-intent leads. Here’s how that’s possible:
- Upsell or cross-sell products by offering customised product recommendation messages.
- Offer referral discounts and coupon codes to your existing customers for referring your products to their friends and family.
- Include the ‘click-to-chat’ option on your website or social media pages to allow visitors to chat with your business and get answers to queries on the spot.
11. Collect customer feedback
Customer feedback and reviews help close the gap between customers and businesses. Regular feedback lets you see your products and service quality through your customers’ eyes and highlights areas that need improvement.
A chatbot can be of tremendous help to follow-up customers to drop feedback or review a purchased product. You could also offer incentives for customers who take their time to review products.
WhatsApp commerce policies you need to know about
To stay compliant with using the WhatsApp Business app and ensuring you do not sell any unauthorised items, WhatsApp has upgraded its policy as below:
- You must comply with the applicable laws and regulations while using the Commerce Catalogs to sell goods or services on the WhatsApp Business app.
- You are solely responsible for every translation and for providing any sales terms, privacy terms, or other user interactions.
- WhatsApp is not responsible for processing, paying, or fulfilling any sales that are part of transactions.
- You are solely responsible for withholding, collecting, reporting, and remitting taxes, duties, and any additional fees for any transactions.
- Businesses must not transact and exhibit any prohibited/illegal items like drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc.
Once you comply with the described policy, you can start exploring what WhatsApp commerce has to offer for your business.
How to get started with WhatsApp commerce?
WhatsApp commerce is a gold mine of eCommerce opportunities. Here are some ways an eCommerce business like you can implement WhatsApp commerce to clock in more sales.
1. Sign up and get access to the WhatsApp Business API
The WhatsApp Business API helps connect your business applications, such as chatbots, to your WhatsApp Business account.
The API is not free, and you must sign up and apply for an account through dedicated WhatsApp business partners and go through an approval process.
Once you have access to the WhatsApp Business API, you can get your hands on the plethora of advanced features and automations needed to start taking customer orders from the messaging app while exploring several other functionalities.
2. Create a WhatsApp catalog
Businesses can share products with their customers using multi-product messages that contain a selection of up to 30 items from the inventory or single product messaging that contains a single product displayed in a Product Detail Page (PDP) format. The above example shows a multi-product message in action.
Once your customer receives a multi-product or a single-product message, they can click on their preferred items. This action opens up a product details page displayed in a PDP format.
PDP formats currently support only product images and not videos or GIFs.
3. Nudge add products to a cart
Your customers can add their selected items to a shopping cart or adjust item quantities while WhatsApp commerce fetches updated information to ensure there’s sufficient stock.
In case of any shortage or changes to the state of any selected item, WhatsApp commerce immediately displays a dialog box with the message: ‘One or more items in your cart have been updated. Or when an item is out of stock, it displays an ‘Item unavailable’ dialog box, so the user stays updated. The user can check the product details page for further updates on the item.
4. Take the order for processing
Now traditionally, once your customers have added their selected items to a shopping cart, they can send the cart to you for further approval and processing. You can then define the next steps, such as requesting payment information or collecting delivery details.
A shopping cart is unique to a chat thread between a person and a business on a specific device, has no expiration date, and persists until the business clears the cart.
But if you want to further improve the experience of adding products to cart and then making a purchase from the messaging platform, bring the checkout and payment steps to WhatsApp itself. This is where WhatsApp commerce platforms like LimeChat come into play, generating an auto-checkout link when a consumer adds products to the cart.
5. Display list messages and quick replies
WhatsApp commerce lets you send interactive messages to your customers to achieve higher response rates. You can create list messages containing up to 10 options in a menu format. Such formats make it simpler for your customers to make a quick selection in a single chat session for a more holistic shopping experience.
Adding quick reply buttons, such as up to 3 buttons with options to select from, can make it easier for your customers to interact with your business and close a sale. For example, letting them go through the returns, exchange and refund policies before placing an order or asking them for feedback once an order is received.
Must-haves to turn WhatsApp into a sales channel
Setting up your WhatsApp commerce account is a meager first step to benefit from the platform entirely. Your WhatsApp Business offerings must be findable by your customers while letting them know that you’re ready to take new orders and process them on time.
Below are some trustworthy strategies you could use to convert WhatsApp from a plain messaging app to a powerful sales channel:
1. Promote your WhatsApp Business account
Without customer awareness, it is close to impossible to make the most out of WhatsApp commerce organically. Your customers must be made aware of your WhatsApp commerce offering and readiness to take online orders and fulfil them.
In this regard, promoting your WhatsApp Business account can work wonders in converting customers. You could strategically place your CTAs, such as a WhatsApp icon or a ‘click-to-chat’ icon, as part of your promotional email campaigns, social media pages, ads, etc. This way, you organically get instant customer opt-ins on WhatsApp, as your audience would already have the app installed on their phones.
2. Create a marketing plan
Having a concrete WhatsApp marketing plan will help you set a roadmap to running promotional broadcast campaigns and highlight products to promote.
Ensure your marketing plan involves automating FAQs so that you immediately respond to customers enquiring about a product they find interesting. Plan to offer a uniquely engaging experience to customers by sending out welcome messages and making it easier for them to interact with you using AI chatbots and agents.
Offering post-sales support with a chatbot or a live agent on WhatsApp is another significant step in marketing. It helps with customer retention and creates a strong brand impression due to the tools’ 24/7 support capabilities.
3. Set up pre, during, and after automations for a seamless shopping experience
Automations let you create the smoothest shopping and checkout experience possible. Strategic automations help make your WhatsApp commerce platform more intuitive and significantly reduce manual effort. A WhatsApp Business API provider like LimeChat can help you set up these flows and connect with your audience better.
Here are some pre, during, and post-purchase automations you could consider:
- A ‘Welcome flow’ to welcome a new customer with a great offer and leave a lasting impression.
- An ‘Abandoned cart flow’ to nudge customers and push them to finish their purchase.
- ‘Back in stock flow’ to inform customers and let them pre-order items that are back in stock.
- A ‘Browse abandonment flow’, where you offer individualised recommendations to potential customers who left your site post a browsing session.
- ‘Cross-sell and upsell flow’ to send related products to your existing customers with discounts or bundle offers.
- ‘Referral flow’ can be used during and post-purchase as well to fetch high-quality references and offer referral discounts.
- A ‘Thank you flow’ to send a personal note thanking your customers and create a great first impression.
- A ‘Winback flow’ to try and increase sales from your existing customers and generate repeat purchases.
- ‘Replenishment flow’ can offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes before a product launch. This flow targets existing customers to nurture more sales and generate visits.
4. Insightful analytics
Analytics lets you understand customers’ behaviour and identify strategies that help you achieve a higher ROI. They pave the way to make more improvements to your marketing plan and optimise strategies to gather better sales.
Monitoring and measuring key statistics, such as leading opt-in sources, number of conversations that turned into sales, number of abandoned sales, etc., reveal how well your WhatsApp commerce storefront has been performing over a period of time .
A quick and easy method to obtain and measure insightful analytics is to use a tailored WhatsApp Business API solution, such as LimeChat’s all-inclusive analytics dashboard.
WhatsApp commerce is still in its infancy, but the ease with which customers can shop has made it a commendable platform for lead generation. Although there is still a lot to be uncovered from the WhatsApp platform, you can surely take the first step into tapping into its promising potential.
Use LimeChat’s AI-powered solutions for WhatsApp commerce and give your customers a human-like online shopping experience like never before.