How to use WhatsApp to grow your e-commerce business

By Faye from Novochat · 21st July, 2021

The WhatsApp platform is used by over 2 billion people in more than 180 countries. While businesses are now using it to communicate with their customers, can WhatsApp also help to drive e-commerce growth?

2 billion. 

That’s how many people use WhatsApp to communicate with one another in over 180 countries

That’s why many businesses use WhatsApp to market their business, sell their products or services, and get in touch with their customers more personally. 

But, can WhatsApp also help to grow your e-commerce business? 

The answer is a definite yes! 🥳

With several features built for small to large enterprises, you’d be missing out on opportunities if you don’t plan to integrate WhatsApp into your e-commerce business strategy.

With that said, let’s look at how WhatsApp can help you grow your e-commerce business! 👇

[table of contents]

WhatsApp Business or WhatsApp Business API for e-commerce?

We don’t recommend using personal WhatsApp accounts for your e-commerce store because:

  • Managing conversations can be a challenge because only one person can use a personal account at any one time

  • It will be difficult to scale once your business starts growing 

  • A WhatsApp business account solidifies your brand identity and legitimizes your brand

Unless you’re a one man team and you intend to keep your business that way forever. 🤷🤷🤷

Instead, you should consider using WhatsApp Business, WhatsApp Business API, or WhatsApp API for your e-commerce sites. 

These WhatsApp solutions were created with business owners in mind, so they include advanced capabilities such as broadcast messagingtemplate messaging, and automated replies (which we’ll explain in detail later!). 

The most important criterion in choosing between the three solutions is whether they can meet your business needs and provide value to you.

💡Additional read: The Ultimate Guide to WhatsApp Business API

Why you should use WhatsApp for e-commerce

More personalized communication 

One of the key reasons why businesses decide to hop onto WhatsApp to market their business is because of the level of personalization. 

E-commerce refers to doing business over the internet and physical interaction is limited. As a result, using WhatsApp to have 1-on-1 conversations with your customers makes them feel as if they’re texting a real person, which can elevate the personal touch. 

After all, the informal setting might make your customers feel like they’re chatting with a friend, making them feel more comfortable interacting with you.

Create better customer relationships

With an international reach and massive user base, WhatsApp is now the ideal messaging platform to build better customer relationships.

In fact, 55% of people reported feeling more personally connected to a company when they messaged them. Because text messaging allows for quick responses, this accelerates the development of a relationship between leads and businesses. 

Messaging has transformed how leads and customers perceive businesses. No longer are they typing emails or making phone calls that feel impersonal and business-like. 

As we mentioned, they now feel that they are talking to a person-like persona when messaging a business.

WhatsApp’s business features

Remember how we mentioned that WhatsApp has many advanced features? These features were built to enhance the user experience for both customers and businesses alike. 

Let’s take a look at what they are. 👇

Broadcast messaging

This feature allows you to send bulk WhatsApp messages to a list of contacts simultaneously. The broadcast message will appear to be an individual message from you and your recipients won’t be able to see other recipients of the broadcasted message.

Here are some ways you can use WhatsApp’s broadcast feature:

  • Inform customers of upcoming sales, events, or webinars

  • Inform customers of store closures 

  • Announce new product launches

  • Share exclusive discount codes with your list of contacts

  • Promote a new store opening

However, to protect the user experience, WhatsApp has put several guidelines in place. Some of these include strict template guidelines, a 256 recipient limit, and many more. 

WhatsApp groups 

WhatsApp groups are a 2-way communication feature where all group members share a common chat and are overseen by group admins. Every message sent is public — messages in the group are received by every other group member. 

WhatsApp Group chats are great for discussions and interactions.

💡Additional read: When to use a WhatsApp group and WhatsApp broadcast 

Automated messaging

This feature allows you to send semi-automated messages that can help to save time and ease the workload of your reps. 

Greeting message: You can set up this generic message to auto-respond to new incoming chats or to conversations that have no activity after 14 days.

Away message: This second automatic reply message can be set according to a schedule, such as your working hours. It is helpful to inform your leads or customers outside of working hours that you have received their message and will respond to them as soon as possible

Quick reply templates: You can customize several message templates that can be inserted into your chat box by using the assigned keyword after ‘/’.

People prefer text over calls

It’s not that text messaging is outrightly superior to calls. You can still sell over the phone like a pro.

However, a study found that over 58% of people feel more confident to message a business than to make a call. The same survey also found similar results that people are more confident with messaging a business over filling website forms or emailing. 

Why, you ask?

Well, the 3 main reasons are faster response times, better advice and care, and more truthful responses from businesses.

A cost-effective marketing channel

If you’ve just started your e-commerce business, you’ll be happy to know that WhatsApp Business is completely free! You’ll have access to all those awesome features (that we covered above) which are sufficient to drive customer engagement. 

However, if you’re a rapidly growing e-commerce business and you need more advanced capabilities, you still have WhatsApp Business API and WhatsApp API options to supplement your growing business needs. 

Though these solutions come at a price, they are relatively affordable even if you’re on a tight budget. 

Furthermore, for the amount of engagement you’ll be able to drive if you use WhatsApp, it really doesn’t cost much in terms of marketing expenses. 😛

💡 Additional read: Tips and strategies on how to use WhatsApp to market your business

How to create a WhatsApp Business profile

To get started with using WhatsApp — whether it’s WhatsApp Business, WhatsApp Business API, or WhatsApp API — you have to first create a business account. 

1. Download the WhatsApp Business app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play

Alt text: Download the WhatsApp Business app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

2. Register your account by inputting your phone number and entering the 6-digit registration code sent to your phone (or entering the PIN you set up). 

Alt text: Register your account by inputting your phone number and entering the 6-digit registration code sent to your phone.

3. Create your account by adding your business name, select a business category, and choose a profile picture.

Alt text: Create your account by adding your business name, select a business category, and choose a profile picture.

4. Build your business profile by adding important business information like your business address, description, hours, and more.

5. Start chatting!

And that’s it! 

Now, if you’re planning on working with a WhatsApp Business Service Provider (BSP), the set-up process would depend on the BSP itself. However, the process shouldn’t be too complicated and you should be up and running in no time. 🥳

How to use WhatsApp to grow your e-commerce store

Once you’ve set up your WhatsApp Business account, let’s take a look at the potential use cases in the e-commerce space where WhatsApp can be beneficial. 👇

Customer Support

Good customer support = good brand reputation.

WhatsApp allows you to get in touch with your customers whenever they need you. Real-time customer support with good responsiveness makes customers feel valued.

Answering questions and providing assistance further conveys that your business is detailed and customer-centric. Top it off with a warm yet professional messaging tone to make customers feel welcomed when interacting with your business. 😊

However, keep in mind that the ultimate responsibility of delivering prompt and effective customer service still lies with your human team!

Taking orders

Taking orders via WhatsApp is a great way for customers to directly clear their doubts and complete their transactions in one place.

Furthermore, you can easily showcase and share your products and services with customers by creating a business catalog. This allows customers to view your products straight from the WhatsApp app without having to check your website again.

Also, with built in features such as camera, file attachments, and documents, this can be very helpful in sending more pictures of your product offerings to your customers. 

Alt text: An example of using chatbots to make product and purchase suggestions. Source: Landbot.io

Caption: An example of using chatbots to make product and purchase suggestions. Source: Landbot.io

And if you decide to use WhatsApp chatbots to help automate things, you can deploy menu-based or keyword recognition chatbots to help customers place their orders. 

This eliminates the need for customers to purchase on a separate platform, thus increasing the probability of a sale.

Abandoned cart recovery

Studies have shown that the average shopping cart abandonment rate is at 69%. And in terms of impact on revenue, it causes several e-commerce brands to lose $18 Billion annually. 🤯

While sending retargeting or reminder emails are the norm, the average open rate for e-commerce businesses is only 16% and the click rate is at 2%. Out of this 2%, what are the chances that this would result in a purchase?

On the other hand, because of push notifications, text message open rates are as high as 98%. Now, aren’t the chances to complete their purchase much higher if you reach out to your customers via text message? 

To speed up the process, you can also use abandoned cart recovery message templates and send them in bulk.

Transaction confirmations

Once a payment has been made, send a WhatsApp message to confirm that the transaction has been completed successfully to put customers’ minds at ease. 

Because WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, you don’t have to worry about sending sensitive and confidential information through the app. 

Alt text: Once a payment has been made, send a WhatsApp message to confirm that the transaction has been completed successfully to put customers’ minds at ease. 

You can also follow-up by sending shipment and delivery updates so your customers are informed about every step of the shipping progress.

After sales support

Once a customer makes a purchase and receives their order, don’t just stop there!

After sales service plays an important role in increasing customer satisfaction and retention, hence strengthening the bond between your business and customers. It generates loyal customers and increases brand value.

Alt text: Drop a quick message to do a post-purchase check in to ensure your customers are settled and happy with their order.

Using WhatsApp, drop a quick message to do a post-purchase check in to ensure your customers are settled and happy with their order. This will also come in handy if your product or service requires installation and your customer needs some hand holding. 

Collecting feedback

Don’t underestimate the power of feedback and reviews — they can make or break your business. Instead of getting customers to fill in a separate form, eliminate the friction and ask them directly through WhatsApp.

How was their experience? How did they find your product or service? What did they like or dislike about it?

Alt text: Ask customers for feedback directly in WhatsApp. 

Collecting honest feedback not only shows your customers that you truly care about their experience, but it also allows you to correct any shortcomings on your end. 

Handling Frequently Asked Questions

They’re called frequently asked questions (FAQs) because they’re frequently asked. And while answering these questions can take up a lot of your reps' time, they are still necessary to help customers make their purchase decisions.

Thus, you can use WhatsApp chatbots to easily handle FAQs. Your chatbot should be programmed to answer questions like business hours, product details, purchase and refund policies, and point to resources for commonly-faced troubleshooting enquiries.

Your customers will benefit from the real-time, instant answers to their queries, and your business benefits from having more time on your hands for other complex tasks. 

WhatsApp e-commerce best practices

Now that we’ve covered why and how to use WhatsApp in your e-commerce business strategy, let’s go over some best practices to ensure you get the most out of using WhatsApp. 🥳

Install a chat widget on your website

Providing a WhatsApp number on your website so web visitors can reach out to you is a good first step, but it is insufficient. Web visitors would have to go through the hassle of saving your number first before sending you a message.

To curb this, consider installing a chat widget on your website that allows your web visitors to easily and quickly reach out to you. 

Alt text: Install a chat widget in your website to easily capture website visitors. Source: NovoChat

Caption: Install a chat widget in your website to easily capture website visitors. Source: NovoChat

Because the process is much simpler now, this reduces the friction and prevents any web visitors from dropping off or hesitating to contact you. 

And installing most chat widgets can be done in under 5 minutes (depending on your BSP)! Let’s take NovoChat for example. NovoChat is an omnichannel chat solution that helps you broadcast messages and conduct multi-agent customer support on various messaging platforms.

With NovoChat, simply create an account, create your workspace, connect your chat channels, and embed a chat widget to your website by copying and pasting the javascript code provided. 

Alt text: Simply copy and paste the installation code to embed NovoChat’s chat widget on your website.

Caption: Simply copy and paste the installation code to embed NovoChat’s chat widget on your website.

You can also select the pages you want the chat widget to appear on. Once you hit ‘update’, the chat widget will show up on your site and you’re now on your way to chatting with your customers and driving customer engagement! 🤙

Use chatbots to automate conversations

Chatbots are an extremely powerful tool that can help to accelerate sales and improve sales productivity

Using chatbots can free up more of your time by addressing common customer questions and requests. It removes the frequent tediousness of handling basic customer queries, and allows you to focus your energy on more important and urgent tasks.

Alt text: An example of a chatbot. Source: WATI

However, as we mentioned earlier, do take note that you shouldn’t depend on your chatbot to drive customer engagement. It’s easy to tell when you’re speaking to a bot over a real person. 

So, use it as a tool to supplement your WhatsApp communication efforts but don’t let it completely take over your business account.  

Don’t spam your customers

While this is rather obvious, it is still a necessary reminder.

Keep in mind that you’re reaching out to your customers on a messaging platform to connect with them and build customer relationships. Don’t spam them with daily WhatsApp messages about store promotions or updates. 

This will only drive them away and in some cases, might lead them to block you entirely. 

Use WhatsApp for your e-commerce store

We hope that this comprehensive article helped you understand the ‘why’s and the ‘how’s of using WhatsApp to grow your e-commerce business! 

We can’t deny how powerful WhatsApp can be for e-commerce, especially if you’re still at the early stages of your business. 

If you’re ready to embark on this journey to grow your e-commerce business through WhatsApp, get started with NovoChat’s 7-day free trial today! Also, if you already have an existing e-commerce store with EasyStore, use the code ‘EASYCHAT21’ to get 30% off. 😉

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