Looking to use WhatsApp for retail industry? You’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, we'll explore what WhatsApp for retail is and why it is beneficial for retailers. Then, we’ll show you how to use the WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp API for retail.
What is WhatsApp for Retail Industry?
WhatsApp for retail is the use of WhatsApp as a communication tool for businesses in the retail industry. Retail can be broadly classified into two categories: Physical retail, where sales occur at brick-and-mortar stores and digital retail, which includes e-commerce.
Regardless of your retail methods, WhatsApp can help businesses improve customer engagement and boost marketing, sales and support. We'll show you how to achieve this later in the article. But for now, let's take a closer look at some of the benefits WhatsApp brings.
Benefits of WhatsApp for Retail over Traditional Channels
The downsides of traditional retail channels like website chat, phone, email and SMS are becoming clearer as messaging channels like WhatsApp gain popularity. Emails often get lost in crowded inboxes or spam folders, while customers ignore SMS messages due to reply charges.
Website chat and phone support are infamous for long wait times and limited availability outside business hours. Plus, without a conversation history that all agents can refer to, customers must repeat personal information and issues every time they speak to new agents. These are not the case when using WhatsApp.
With over 2.4 billion users worldwide, WhatsApp gives businesses a pre-existing pool of customers to engage with. It also has open rates of up to 98%, making it more effective than email as customers are more likely to see and read messages sent on the app.
WhatsApp also offers convenience and ease of use as customers can converse with businesses anytime without any costs. Additionally, businesses can access customers’ conversation history, saving customers the trouble of repeating personal information or issues.
Now that you understand the benefits of using WhatsApp for retail, let’s look at how businesses are succeeding with it.
How Businesses are Winning with WhatsApp Retail
Here, we’ll present how two businesses in the retail industry achieve success with WhatsApp.
Ferretería EPA C.A. is a Venezuelan hardware retail chain. It was using WhatsApp to attend to customer inquiries. However, agents were chatting with customers privately via their personal WhatsApp numbers, making it difficult to monitor conversations and collaborate as a team.
The business needed a multiuser WhatsApp solution to help agents identify customers, collaborate, provide more effective customer service and potentially increase sales. So, it decided to switch to WhatsApp API and connect it to respond.io.
This resulted in multi-agent access under one WhatsApp number, increased customer satisfaction and more. Additionally, EPA increased its number of monthly conversations by 80% and saw a 20% growth in customer base and sales conversions.
Lamarsa Coffee is among Malaysia’s largest coffee equipment retailers. It was struggling to handle the high volume of sales, orders and inquiries through WhatsApp Business App. To efficiently resolve inquiries, automate tasks and target the right contacts for broadcasts, it migrated to WhatsApp API and connected it to respond.io.
Since then, it has acquired 10x more leads per quarter from WhatsApp click-to-chat links on its website. It improved first response times by 38% and gained 50% more sales from quarter to quarter in less than a year.
To learn how to achieve similar success, let's explore some practical ways to use WhatsApp for retail.
How to Use WhatsApp for Retail Industry
To leverage WhatsApp's full potential, you must understand the differences between the WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp API. While both can be used for use cases like sales and support, their features and capabilities differ.
The WhatsApp Business App is designed for small businesses. It only allows businesses to connect up to 5 devices for free and limits automation to welcome and away messages among others.
The WhatsApp Business API, on the other hand, was made for medium to large companies looking to WhatsApp with multiple users, advanced automation to streamline business processes and more.
Note that WhatsApp API does not have a user interface. It must be connected to a messaging software like respond.io to send and receive messages. Below is a summary of the WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp API features businesses can use for retail.
That said, let’s look at how businesses can use WhatsApp to boost visibility, drive conversations and enhance retail efficiency.
Boost Business Visibility
If you’re just starting to use WhatsApp for retail and want WhatsApp to be your main communication channel, you must find methods to increase your business visibility. To achieve this use the WhatsApp Business directory and WhatsApp click-to-chat ads.
WhatsApp Business directory, available on the WhatsApp Business App, allows users to easily search for registered WhatsApp businesses in their vicinity directly from within the app. It increases the chances of potential customers finding and engaging with you directly.
WhatsApp click-to-chat ads enable users to initiate conversations with your business from social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. This allows you to increase your exposure by targeting audiences based on specific demographics, locations and interests.
While they are not free, these ads can be an effective way to reach relevant audiences and encourage them to start a conversation with your business. Next, we’ll look at the tools available to drive customer conversations.
Drive Customer Conversations
You can embed your chat link anywhere on various digital mediums like websites and social media and paste your WhatsApp QR code around your physical store and on vouchers.
If you have significant traffic on your website, install a WhatsApp webchat to direct website visitors to WhatsApp. Note that this is only available for WhatsApp API users. Next, let's look at how you can use WhatsApp to increase efficiency.
Enhance Retail Efficiency
Customers expect fast replies from businesses, especially when contacting them through instant messaging channels like WhatsApp.
To meet these expectations, businesses can send automated messages to provide an estimated response time or inform customers when they are unavailable. They can also use canned responses to reply to commonly asked questions easily.
Additionally, you can showcase your products on WhatsApp by creating a comprehensive WhatsApp catalog with detailed descriptions, pricing information and visuals, allowing customers to browse and make purchasing decisions at their convenience.
For a more proactive approach, send promotional broadcasts to relevant leads and customers or trigger messages based on their actions from e-commerce platforms like Shopify. Doing so allows you to effectively engage with your audience, increasing the chances of conversions.
Now that you know the different methods you can leverage WhatsApp for retail, let's discover how respond.io can elevate your retail business.
WhatsApp for Retail Industry: Quick Wins with respond.io
With the WhatsApp API connected to respond.io, you can unlock a multitude of advanced messaging capabilities for your unique business needs and goals.
This includes using an omnichannel messaging inbox to reply to messages, advanced automation and integration to streamline any business processes, robust promotional messaging features and more. Let's look into the details below.
Consolidate All Messaging Channels in One Place
Respond.io is an omnichannel communication platform that allows you to streamline business communication across instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and LINE along with traditional channels like email and webchat.
It also allows you to connect multiple channel accounts or numbers. If you have individual WhatsApp accounts for each branch or outlet, you can connect them all to respond.io and reply to messages in one omnichannel inbox.
Now that you have messages flowing from multiple channels in a single inbox, let's look at how to manage them with advanced automation.
Automate Any Processes with Advanced Automation
Unlike the WhatsApp Business App which limits chat automation to welcome and away messages, respond.io offers advanced automation features that can enhance efficiency and allow agents to focus on critical issues.
This includes setting up automated FAQs and multiple-choice questions to help customers communicate what they want clearly. Then automatically route and assign these conversations to the right team and agent, based on their needs.
Respond.io also allows agents to execute complicated manual tasks with a click while chatting with customers. With this feature, they can easily transfer conversations to the next shift, escalate cases to colleagues or managers and create tickets in external CRMs.
Next, we'll explore a crucial capability that will benefit most retailers: Integrating e-commerce platforms with WhatsApp.
Integrate WhatsApp with E-commerce Platforms
Triggering messages based on customers' actions on external platforms is a powerful way to drive engagement. With respond.io, you can send personalized messages based on customer actions on platforms like Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and more.
For example, you can send abandoned cart recovery notifications to customers who have added items to their cart but haven't completed their purchase. Additionally, you can send customers purchase updates like order confirmation and delivery notifications.
If you want to send promotional messages en masse, you can with the respond.io Broadcast Module.
Send Promotional Broadcast Messages
Businesses can use WhatsApp broadcasts to send promotions or updates in bulk to customers. This includes seasonal promotions, limited-time offers, new product releases or exclusive discounts for loyal customers.
With the WhatsApp Business App, businesses are limited to sending broadcasts to 256 contacts at a time. Additionally, the recipients of these broadcasts must have the business's number saved in their phones.
With respond.io’s Broadcast Module, businesses can send promotional notifications to a larger audience without the need for customers to save their numbers.
You can import contacts, segment them for precise targeting, schedule broadcasts in advance and clone recurring broadcasts among others. Businesses can even get broadcast analytics for insights into the success of their broadcast campaigns.
In conclusion, WhatsApp is a valuable tool that retailers can utilize to enhance customer engagement, boost sales and deliver superior customer service. If you're a retailer looking to leverage the power of WhatsApp API with an official WhatsApp partner, create an account and get WhatsApp access in minutes. You can start with our free trial and experience its benefits right away.
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