WhatsApp Business To Help Small And Big Sellers
The fact that WhatsApp is a free platform coupled with the ease of communication makes 1.3 billion people across the world use WhatsApp today. 200 million of these are Indians and a lot of them use the platform to sell. WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Business on Tuesday, 5th Septemeber, 2017. This is a new service from the world’s largest messaging app in a bid to monetise its free platform. WhatsApp did not want to take the advertising route to monetise it’s platform because it is seen as intrusive and commercial messaging puts off users.
India is a key market for WhatsApp with the largest user base of 200 million Indians. WhatsApp Business is an effort in the direction of enabling m-commerce by bringing more ease to big and small sellers in selling through WhatsApp.
Who is WhatsApp Business for?
- It is aimed at all those businesses that have so far been using WhatsApp accounts that are essentially meant for individuals.
- For business owners who wish to manage a huge consumer base and make their interactions easier.
- It is for those who seek measurability. We expect some analytics to be available like open rate, bookmark rate, enquiry rate, conversion rate through tracking, city level location, search rate and more.
What challenges does WhatsApp Business address?
WhatsApp Business will address the following three challenges.
Businesses can now have an official presence
Users can now add a company profile with information such as address, business hours, description of product or service offered.
Businesses can now be verified to lend authenticity
Businesses will get a verified green checkmark next to their names. They will be able to establish direct contact with consumers seamlessly while ensuring authenticity and credibility so people can identify a business from another person.
Businesses can now manage messages at scale
The new service from WhatsApp will help users manage chats for a large number of consumers. At the moment, its happening on WhatsApp in a very primitive manner. Where shopkeepers use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone.
Businesses can now manage customers at one place
Businesses can now manage a huge number of customer conversations at one place, possibly from a single dashboard. This will bring convenience in managing all the chats with various customers.
Is WhatsApp Business going to be free?
Not forever. As any other online strategy, they plan to keep it free until a lot of businesses are onboard with them and get used to doing business on WhatsApp Business. As soon as the critical mass is achieved, businesses will be begin to be charged.
How does WhatsApp Business work?
Let’s see an example. If an airline is using WhatsApp Business then the customers of that airline will get notifications on booking confirmations, seat assignments and flight schedules. They will be able to submit meal preferences, flight changes or any other specific requests, etc and the airline will be able to reply to each of it’s customers.
What is the potentials of WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business has the potential to become a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform of it’s own kind. This is because the features will make relationship management easier and a huge fan base of users and businesses will embrace it quickly.
What could be the downside of WhatsApp Business?
WhatsApp Business could turn the platform we all love as users, into a mobile-commerce engine where businesses and people begin to use WhatsApp only to talk about products and make enquiries related to purchases. The reason to launch WhatsApp Business though, is only to make it easier for people to enquire and inform about products and services.
WhatsApp Business has tested the product with several Indian startups such as online pharmacy 1mg and ticket site Bookmyshow.com. Globally, larger corporates have been part of the pilot test such as Dutch airline KLM and Itau Bank in Brazil.
WhatsApp is building tools for small businesses and enterprise solutions for bigger companies such as airlines, banks, ecommerce sites. It will be interesting to see if the Government could be using the enterprise solution.
In the coming months, WhatsApp Business will be testing many new features that aim to solve these challenges. It will get a lot easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp.
Project WhatsApp Business is being led by Matt Idema. He joined WhatsApp from Facebook in February 2017. Facebook had acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $19.3 billion. In January 2016 WhatsApp discontinued a subscription charge of $1 per year which made the messaging platform free.