How to use the WhatsApp Business Platform in retail

Topic: Retail, WhatsApp

The way that retailers market their products to customers has changed drastically in the retail sector over the last few years. Consumers’ shopping habits have been shifting to online, even before the pandemic. This has forced retailers to start rethinking the way that they market products and services – if they haven’t already done so. 

Proper planning for all customer marketing touchpoints will play a pivotal factor in this.

A shift in marketing strategy poses two main challenges. 

  1. Which channels will help brands connect with customers in the most engaging way? With so many options to choose from including email, SMS, social media and more, which will best emulate the kind of experience a physical store could 
  2. Which channel will set a brand apart from the competition. There are so many brands vying for customers’ attention, so how can forward-thinking retailers do things a little differently?

Research indicates the secret to success is to target customers’ mobile devices. This is the place where they’re mostly connecting with friends and family. Target mobile and meet your customers where they already are. 

Luckily, the world’s most popular messaging app, WhatsApp, can now be used to deliver marketing content to retail customers.

Does marketing with WhatsApp in the retail sector actually work?

Let’s take a look at how rich, mobile-focused marketing (including WhatsApp) compares against the ways that retailers are currently sending their personalised messaging experiences.

EmailSMS onlyRich messaging (including WhatsApp)
Message open rate20.9%95%95%
Average customer response time2.5 days90 seconds90 seconds
Link click-through rate4.2%19%27%
Conversions3.26%32%42%
Proportion of messages that are spam90%1%0%

Data sources: Oracle | Remarkety | Adobe | Esendex | Digital Doughnut | Ofcom | Jibe by Google

How can retailers access WhatsApp?

There are two ways that retail businesses can start to integrate WhatsApp into their communication strategies. 

Via the WhatsApp Business Platform. 

This API allows retailers to add WhatsApp functionality directly into their existing CRM systems. Using the API offers two key benefits. The first is that retailers will be evolving their systems rather than replacing them (which can often mean great expense and potential downtimes while systems are switched over). The second benefit is that there will be minimal training required for your staff, as they’ll be sending WhatsApp communications from an environment that they’re already familiar with.

Secure Online Platforms

Retailers can send WhatsApp messages from secure online platforms. This allows retailer’s teams to login from any device, and send communications in any location – even while working from home.

What are tools within WhatsApp that will help retail marketing campaigns?

Send images, video and audio

As well as simple text-based messages, retailers can also send images and video in an environment which can also contain a branded business profile. So, for events like sales and promotions, you can connect with customers in a much more visual way, and follow up that initial engagement with links to individual products that your customer might like.

Bot-driven interactions

Bots are a great way to automate processes in WhatsApp. A particularly interesting way that we’ve seen them used by retailers is during the cross/upsell stage of an interaction. 

Once an initial action has been completed (E.g. the customer has chosen to “learn more” about a certain product), the bot can then jump in and suggest complementary products that might enhance their purchase.

Personalised offers and promo codes

Sending QR and Barcodes for special discounts is a great way to not just get customers shopping with retailers, but also drive footfall into stores when needed. 

And the good thing about sending these through WhatsApp is that each and every message you send can be personalised for that customer, which in turn will help to build a closer and longer-lasting relationship with your brand.

How retailers can take their first steps to better marketing with WhatsApp

Esendex has worked with a wide range of retailers to help create more engaging, and higher converting marketing campaigns for retailers. Find out how WhatsApp business Platform could fit into your communication strategy below.

Author Avatar
Holly Cunningham

Hey, I’m Holly, Marketing Executive for the UK and Ireland. I have experience in creating engaging content in both the B2B and B2C industries. I’m passionate about increasing the utilisation of modern marketing avenues to build better relationships between brands and consumers.