Business continuity in retail: How WhatsApp Business Platform can help

Topic: Retail, Technology, WhatsApp
Image of person shopping, graphic of WhatsApp and of a phone. To show how WhatsApp Business Platform can help business continuity in retail

A robust business continuity plan ensures your retail organisation stays afloat despite disruption. Here’s how WhatsApp Business Platform can help.

From staffing shortfalls to store break-ins or even natural disasters, a business continuity plan (BCP) will cover how to handle disruptions that put your organisation at risk of closure (temporary or permanent). Although the specifics of the BCP can depend on business size, need etc, one crucial consideration is communication. 

Effective communication with your key stakeholders (e.g. employees, suppliers and customers) is key. Many retailers rely on social media, website notices, emails and calls. But some retailers also use WhatsApp, typically for the following reasons…

Using WhatsApp for better communication as part of your business continuity plan

It’s where your audience already hang out

With 2 billion monthly active users, WhatsApp is the world’s most popular messaging app to date. Plus, 71% of messaging app users in the UK have WhatsApp. 

So, when you send critical messages via WhatsApp Business Platform, you’re sending them via a platform where your audience is most likely going to be found. It’s more convenient for both you and them.

The platform boasts a high engagement rate

WhatsApp is opened up to 25 times a day on average and its open rate can be as high as 99%. When you add its popularity to the mix, there’s no other platform that quite compares right now.

That’s not to say other channels like email and SMS don’t work and should be replaced with WhatsApp Business Platform. On the contrary, they should remain core channels in your communications strategy. And WhatsApp Business Platform should be used alongside them as it’s such a great way to increase the reach and engagement of your critical messages.

5 ways WhatsApp Business Platform ensures effective communication during a crisis

1. Emergency alerts

In addition to the regular messages you can send through WhatsApp Business Platform (e.g. order confirmations and delivery updates), you can also use it for the more urgent updates. Because of the almost instantaneous nature of WhatsApp messages, you can inform your customers about unexpected store closures, relocation notices, stock availability updates, and also opening time changes.

You can also take advantage of WhatsApp Business Platform’s rich features, sending (for example) images, weblinks, document attachments and even interactive links to Google Maps locations. The latter is especially helpful when a store has to close and customers need to be redirected to their next nearest branch.

2. Staff communication

WhatsApp Business Platform is ideal for retailers who need to reach staff in a hurry – for example, if there’s a security breach (both physical and digital) or they need to arrange shift rotas at short notice.

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.

3. Two-way customer conversations

One of the best things about WhatsApp Business Platform is the fact it supports two-way conversations. And unlike SMS, there’s no need for a virtual mobile number to access this feature. This helps create more natural interactions with customers and allows them to reply when it best suits them. 

Let’s say you’re unable to deliver an item because of adverse weather conditions. With WhatsApp Business Platform, you can quickly let your customer know about the problem and arrange for a new date or even location to be used instead. And thanks to reporting features like sent/delivery status, and click and read rates, you can be confident your messages have arrived.

4. Automated bots to improve resource allocation

If there are questions that may be commonly asked, you can set up a chatbot to handle these. Not only will this allow customers to instantly receive a response, but it also frees your team up to focus on more complex enquiries and tasks.

5. Quality conversations at scale

Another major benefit that WhatsApp Business Platform offers retailers is that customer service agents can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, unlike phone-based interactions which can only be dealt with one at a time. 

Additionally, each conversation can be personalised and customised to single or multiple contacts. Plus, you can use rich features (e.g. add images, videos and other media, send documents etc) to create a better customer experience. This means rather than sending notifications, you can have quality two-way conversations at scale, which helps build stronger customer relationships.

Make sure great communication is always a priority in your business continuity plan with WhatsApp

Today’s retailers know to expect the unexpected if they want to keep trading. Communication should be a key part of your business continuity plan and WhatsApp Business Platform can help, particularly when used alongside your existing comms channels.

Wondering how WhatsApp Business Platform can help your retail business? We’re offering a free trial to all of our customers – new and existing. So, this is your chance to try the world’s favourite messaging platform for free. 

Get started on your journey to delivering richer experiences and more memorable customer conversations by clicking the button below.

Author Avatar
Mary Henry

Mary has extensive experience in communication, PR and journalism - most recently across SaaS businesses. A keen researcher and storyteller, Mary is highly skilled in making complex concepts accessible, and in putting customers at the heart of her communication. She has supported all kinds of businesses to tell their brand, product and people stories - from global multinationals to start-ups across retail, travel/leisure, banking/finance, government and educational institutions.