With billions of messages shared daily, WhatsApp has emerged as a powerful tool for retail businesses to engage, support and serve customers
Launched in 2009, WhatsApp in India came as a new-age multimedia messaging service and grew to become the default communication tool for personal as well as professional use. Today, it has evolved to offer channels for enterprises and popular figures, payment solutions and much more. The Meta-owned platform cruised through all these years in the right direction catering to a massive 2.4 billion user base.
A report by Statista says that the number of WhatsApp users in India will reach around 795.67 million by 2025 from 500 million users at present.
Why WhatsApp Marketing
- Helps engage customers on a common platform
- Ensures data protection and personalised recommendations
- Helps connect marketing to sales and support
- Provides dynamic chat for customer inclusion
- Ensures purchase-friendly services directly through chat
- Helps utilise cost-effective marketing
WhatsApp for marketing
Over the years, WhatsApp has transitioned from becoming a personal communication platform to a tool for businesses to connect with their customers.
WhatsApp Marketing helps promote products and services to increase sales with an aim for higher revenue generation. The platform caters to different promotional and marketing solutions in retail, e-commerce and other areas.
With a 98% message open rate and a 45-60% click-through rate, it has emerged as an effective tool to market products and connect with customers. It is five times more efficient than conventional emails and SMS facilities, cites a report by AiSensy, a WhatsApp engagement platform.
E-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, TataCliq, Lenskart and many more have all been using the resource in some way or the other. Other than e-commerce, companies from the fields of education, travel, real estate and communication use the facility from WhatsApp.
Government portals and agencies use WhatsApp as a major step for communicating with the masses.
Tools from WhatsApp
WhatsApp offers a bundle of in-depth tools and options that help shape campaigns, these include:
- Extensive library of templates for campaigns
- Audience Segmentation helps store customer data and ensures the right messages to the right audience
- Performance insight helps understand campaign outcomes and other factors like amount spent, messages sent, delivered and read, cost per read, cost per click, cost through rate etc.
Companies marketing through WhatsApp can ensure that important updates on a particular product or service are shared on time including notification of order confirmation, shipment updates and reminders for customers. Customer satisfaction is considered into account with the help of automated conversational tools that support inbound requests.
Brands can maximise the return on investment on the marketing spend with hyper-relevant promotions and also re-engaging the customers in case of cart abandonment.
Here is a look at how some leading retail companies have used the platform for their business.
Tata CLiQ Luxury
Tata CLiQ Luxury is a lifestyle platform that offers global and Indian luxury brands in fashion, beauty, fragrances, home, gourmet, and more.
“We largely use the channel to announce new brand launches and sale events, in addition to sending personalised 1:1 messages and offers. WhatsApp, as a channel, allows us to establish a connection with the customer, and we have witnessed an increase in engagement,” said Gopal Asthana, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Tata CliQ.
Ashtana shared that the target audience for Tata CLiQ Luxury is niche, i.e., the top 2-3% of the pyramid. It caters to a discerning audience that is digitally savvy. Luxury customers seek personalisation not just in terms of offerings and products, but also brand engagement.
“Currently, 10% of our Customer relationship management (CRM) revenue comes from the WhatsApp channel, and this number has been growing steadily. We are optimistic that this number will only increase in the future,”
The response from channels has been encouraging and has been scaling efficiently for the platform.
Launched in 1986, Bengaluru-based Prestige Group is one of the leading real estate and property development companies operating residential projects as well as shopping centres. The company has been using WhatsApp for its business for the last two years.
“Customers have responded positively and appreciate the convenience. They find it a user-friendly and accessible platform, contributing to overall satisfaction,” said Uzma Irfan, Director, Corporate Communications, Prestige Group adding that it has proven to be an efficient marketing tool.
On the operations end, the company uses it for customer connection with real-time help and product updates. Multimedia capabilities and business statistics information have helped track the company’s performance, helping it make future data-driven decisions.
“We have witnessed a 25% rise in consumer interaction and a 10% increase in conversion rates over the last year when compared to traditional marketing channels,” Irfan said. In addition, there has been a 25% reduction in customer assistance response time.
Prestige anticipates further growth in customer reach and engagement, aiming for a 20% increase in customer acquisition through this channel. It also wants to use WhatsApp to build a smooth and highly tailored customer journey, boosting the brand’s presence and customer relationships.
The State Plate
The State Plate offers customers a wide variety of authentic, traditional, and regional foods from different states of India.
By leveraging the use of WhatsApp business and the corresponding marketing campaigns, the company was able to answer 85% of the customer inquiries with the chatbot. It has further reduced the average response time from hours to minutes by almost 90%, cites a WhatsApp blog.
“With WhatsApp Business, not only did we see phenomenal customer cart recovery rates, but we immensely improved our customer experience resolving customer queries so much faster,” said Raghav Jhawar, Cofounder, State Plate sharing the WhatsApp success story with the platform’s official blog.
The blog further highlights that the company was able to deliver fast and efficient support with fourfold times better response rates in WhatsApp notifications as compared to mail.
Launched in 2018, Source.One is a tech-enabled petrochemical distribution company which serves almost 10,000 active buyers over 300 districts of India with a revenue of over Rs 2,000 crore according to the company website.
According to the statistics by WhatsApp, the company was successful in recording ten times growth in customer base in the last three years with a revenue of $205 million attributed to WhatsApp.
The data also reveals that almost 35,000 pricing updates and 25,000 requests for price quotes were handled by WhatsApp with just 10 minutes to complete a normal transaction.
“With our buyers to the transport teams using WhatsApp, we can easily expand access to services. It empowers us to bring all the key players together to give customers more options at lower prices on short notice,” said Arun Singhal, CEO, Source.One on the WhatsApp blog.
Founded in 1878, Venchi is a luxury chocolate brand that has brought the Italian way of life to every corner of the earth with more than 250 chocolate recipes and 90 flavours of gelato. Spread across 70 countries, it has been the prime contributor that delighted chocolate lovers worldwide.
Insights from the WhatsApp blog reveal that the company achieved 95% message open rates with more than five times message click rates as compared to SMS. It has also seen an increase in its user base of more than 4,000. In addition to this, there have been twice as many coupons sold that are primarily attributed to WhatsApp.
“Customers are so excited to receive new deals and consult with sales agents over WhatsApp,” said Alvin Tang, Regional E-commerce Manager, APAC, Venchi on the WhatsApp blog.
6th Street is an elevated fashion and lifestyle store that offers over 1,200 products like on-trend shoes, outfits, beauty essentials, and bags across UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.
WhatsApp has helped the company bag a 20 times higher return on investment in the last 30 days as compared to SMS. Customer satisfaction has improved by 20% with six times increase in ratings and reviews and twice the click-through rate according to WhatsApp.
“We successfully use WhatsApp as an engagement platform to win back lost customers, gather feedback from existing customers and generate positive reviews to improve the overall experience,” said Prateek Agrawal, Manager, CRM, 6th Street on the WhatsApp blog.
Headquartered in San Francisco and a subsidiary of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Benefit Cosmetics saw a 30% increase in brow and lip wax bookings on WhatsApp. It has also reported a 200% growth in year-over-year sales partially attributed to WhatsApp. There was also a 60% faster agent time recorded with WhatsApp as compared to email as reported by the WhatsApp blog.
“With WhatsApp, we have given customer service a new look by making the process of managing appointments much faster and easier,” said Sue Leung, Retail & Operations Manager, Benefit Cosmetics on the WhatsApp blog.
The Kirana way of using WhatsApp
Typically, WhatsApp marketing solutions and commerce-related transactions involve a payment gateway, campaigns, and different transaction processes.
However, mom-and-pop stores, especially in tier 1 and tier 2 cities, have been using WhatsApp for business in its simplest form.
The strategy has also been useful for budding entrepreneurs in the market, who have limited access to expensive resources for scaling and have just started utilising the free medium to propagate the business to the masses.
A typical scenario could be a Kirana or a local supermarket using WhatsApp Business or WhatsApp to share the details of the goods available in a particular store and thereby facilitating the purchase with the help of transactions that are shared via QR codes, third-party apps.
As per a report by market intelligence platform Future Market Insights, the conversational AI market is expected to grow at a 17.3% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) between 2023 and 2033.
And with its proven performance in delivering results, WhatsApp is poised to become more relevant for businesses, going forward.
Different platforms offer different features with distinct advantages. For instance, it can be shots or videos for YouTube; pictures and posts for Facebook; reels and stories for Instagram; and polls and trending for popular microblogging platforms like X and Threads.
Broadcast messages: One of the key features of WhatsApp is promotional broadcast messages. Promotional messages can be used to induce interest in consumers who wish to explore products in the market.
Incentives based on exclusive offers can help engage existing customers and may also help find new ones trying to explore the market.
Personalised messaging: This can be used for one-on-one engagement with more private and predictive suggestions.
Chatbots: These can be used to offer customer support. Chatbots have the potential to solve more than 80% of customer queries as per AiSensy.
Channels: Launched in June 2023, channels are a simple, reliable and private way to receive important updates. It acts as a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers and polls.
Apart from the retail, e-commerce and other sectors, several media organisations, popular figures and influencers are leveraging WhatsApp channels for marketing and updates apart from YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, which have now become conventional.
Currently, the popular channels that operate on WhatsApp are Netflix with 21.5 million followers, Katrina Kaif – 21 million, Real Madrid C.F. – 18.8 million followed by Bollywood celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Diljit Dosanjh and other popular Indian mainstream media like News 18, Aaj Tak, The Times of India, ABP News and so on.
It also includes the most active channels which are Chelsea FC, Sebastian Yatra, MALUMA, Manchester United and Bad Bunny.
In the future, WhatsApp plans to provide opportunities to support admins to build a business around channels using payment services. Facilitating the idea, admins in the future could also promote the channels in the directory and create awareness.