3 ways to use WhatsApp for better business continuity in the retail sector

Topic: Retail, Technology

Whether it be IT infrastructure failures, a store break-in, natural disasters or staffing shortfalls, modern retailers have expect the unexpected if they want to keep trading.

Effective communication with your staff and customers is key, with many retailers relying on social media, website notices, emails and calls. But some retailers have started leveraging WhatsApp, and it’s easy to see why.

For example, did you know that the average UK mobile user checks WhatsApp 23 times a day (Source) and that the app is now used by over 2 billion people?

  • WhatsApp is used by 70% of the UK’s population (Messenger People)
  • WhatsApp messages can be received at any/time place as long as the recipient has access to WiFi / mobile data 
  • Messages are received almost instantaneously
  • Retailers can check if a message has been delivered/opened
  • Messages don’t get lost in inboxes like email
  • Messages are sent to the place where customers are already communicating with friends and family, meaning increased engagement
  • Two-way messaging can be used where required
  • Bots can be utilised to automate responses to simple questions.

How can retailers deploy WhatsApp?


For retailers who don’t want the hassle of having to retrain their staff on new systems – there are API implementations. This allows WhatsApp functionality to be integrated directly into existing CRM systems. Things like message templates also save staff time, by selecting pre-configured messages which can be personalised for each customer – particularly useful when sending large scale broadcast messages.

Online Portals

Online portals can be accessed by any workstation with an internet connection and don’t require staff to physically be in the office; particularly useful if there are store or office closures. They also offer all of the message template/personalisation benefits offered by API implementations.

What are the different applications of WhatsApp for retailers in an emergency situation?

Emergency notifications via whatsapp

Emergency alerts/notifications to customers

Along with the more day to day messages retailers can send through WhatsApp (E.g. order confirmations and delivery updates), the platform works well for more urgent updates too. Because of the almost instantaneous nature of WhatsApp messages, you can let your customers know about unexpected store closures, relocation notices, stock availability updates and also opening time changes.

Messages can also be enriched with images, weblinks (for further information), and also interactive links to Google Maps locations. The latter is especially helpful when a store has had to close and customers need to be re-directed to the nearest alternative store.

Staff communications

WhatsApp is ideal for retailers who need to get hold of staff in a hurry; for security breaches (both physical and digital), and also arranging staff cover.

Messages can be sent to groups of staff members, with delivery and read receipts available to let you know exactly when the message has hit its mark. Staff members can then broadcast their reply to the entire team, which in turn syncs communications and helps deal with the issue in the fastest possible way.

2-way customer service chats

WhatsApp isn’t just for single way traffic – it supports two-way interactions too. Let’s say for example that a retailer is unable to deliver an item because of adverse weather conditions. By using WhatsApp, the retailer can quickly let the customer know about the problem and arrange for a new date or even location to be used instead – all without having to leave the app.

As well as being used for emergency situations, WhatsApp can be used for more day to day customer service interactions too like stock enquiries and other FAQs. One of the major benefits for retailers here is that customer service agents can handle multiple conversations at the same time, unlike phone-based interactions which can only be dealt with one at a time. 

For simple enquiries, the retailer may also wish to use a bot, which can handle conversations without the need for a customer service agent at all.

What are the next steps?

To make sure that we find the best approach for you, we treat every retailer as an individual with bespoke solutions designed for your needs. 

With this in mind, we’d love to speak to you to better understand your problem and how we think WhatsApp could help. To find out more, please get in contact today by calling 0345 356 5758 or email sales@esendex.com to find out more

Author Avatar
Warren Delay

Hi, I'm Warren, and I'm the Product Marketing Manager here at Esendex, specialising in product positioning / requirement. I also have an extensive knowledge of product management, and love working at the cutting edge of new tech!