With 1 in 5 people actively using WhatsApp, the global reach of the messaging platform is massive. To put that into perspective, that’s 1.5 billion daily active users. One. Point. Five. Billion.
Furthermore, given the recent launch of its business products - the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business Api, WhatsApp is ready to start onboarding businesses and monetize the platform. It will become everyday practise to message with a business the same way you do with your friends and family. This opens up various possibilities, from providing customer support to selling products & services.
What is WhatsApp Commerce and Who’s Already Using WhatsApp for Business
The massive adoption of WhatsApp Business products would generate a new ecosystem based on the so-called Whatsapp Commerce:
"It’s a new business model where companies from various industries would be interacting with customers by offering product and services using Whatsapp as the primary channel."
WhatsApp Business App
Since its launch at the start of ‘18, thousands of businesses of all sizes have jumped on the WhatsApp business train enabling them to provide their customers with a direct channel of communication, prompt support, and a new means to sell and offer products and services directly.
The young start-up Hype who have grown to 50 employees and an annual turnover of £13.5m in under seven years, leverage WhatsApp to speed up their production process and communicate directly through private group chats with all their buyers and retailers. Using WhatsApp groups, they send buyers an image of a new item they’re thinking of producing and get instant buyer feedback and orders. This speedier process has enabled them to branch out to 26 countries globally.
In a unique turn, fashion brand Threads has completely moved away from website commerce and only use social media and chat based apps as their primary sales channel, no webshop. Thread have recently raised over 20M in funds with investors quick to recognize the value of their customer-centric business model. Using Instagram, the retailer offers a personal shopping experience and appeals to young, fashion savvy millennials showcasing the latest season’s trends over the platform. Interested buyers are then directed over to WhatsApp or Snapchat with the click of a link where they are directly in touch with customer service and where they can finalize the purchase. The approach provides exceptionally high engagement, easier close of sale and almost always guarantees high retention.
The Business API
A few months ago WhatsApp launched their Business API that enables your business to connect its system or third party services to WhatsApp. The API lets you programmatically send non-promotional messages like payment links, shipping notifications and appointment reminders, and provide customer support. This means you can connect your own or third party business messaging service with WhatsApp and move away from a handheld device and send replies over a desktop device with greater speed and efficiency. Once you are able to send & receive messages programmatically on WhatsApp, the possibilities become endless.
This is the first time that Whatsapp is opening up the platform, so they are being very cautious to avoid damaging the end user experience. The WhatsApp Business Api is currently in a limited public preview and is being tested by big brands such as Uber and KLM.
KLM airlines are already privy to the API and use it as an extension to their customer service sending you flight updates, itinerary changes and answering journey related questions over the platform. Netflix has also gotten onboard with a trial run in India that send subscribers recommendations based on viewing preferences. Find more examples of live cases and how other companies are currently using the WhatsApp API for their business here.
WhatsApp Payments - Paypal Killer?
So what’s next?
Presently only available in India, WhatsApp has enabled native payments for a limited number of users. WhatsApp users can link their bank account to their mobile WhatsApp account and send or receive money over WhatsApp. The service rides on the back of the National Payment Corporation of India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Currently there are 1 million beta users of native payments and a nationwide rollout is expected to happen early next year. **Native payments will allow companies to offer a better purchase experience to their customers inside of Whatsapp and a much more convenient shopping experience where customers needn’t leave their chat window to finalize a purchase. **
Given the enormous number of daily active users, it’s not a far stretch to say that once WhatsApp enables native payments globally, it will pose a serious threat to the likes of Paypal and other mobile payment companies. WhatsApp users would be able to securely connect their card or bank account to WhatsApp that will act as their secure wallet and make payments on WhatsApp or finalize checkout on other online shops that support WhatsApp Payments with a click.
And putting aside there are already 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp offers something other mobile payment providers don’t - Direct Connect. With the added benefit of a direct line of communication with the business, once WhatsApp can act as a secure wallet the need for other platforms becomes defunct. The ease of use and convenience found all in the palm of our hands.
The release of a WhatsApp sales platform has been long awaited and the hype is not-for-nothing. As one of the world’s largest messaging platforms that promises an exceptionally broad reach, it won’t be long before most retailers jump on board.
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