WhatsApp Business: the e-commerce revolution

Open University of Catalonia

  • The consolidation of this conversational tool will mark a before and after in the retail industry and in electronic commerce.

Experts analyze the messaging application on the anniversary of WhatsApp, which is celebrated on February 24.

The use of instant messaging applications has grown in recent years. According to a Statista report, 87% of smartphone owners use these tools. Along the same lines, a new one from Kantar indicates that during the pandemic the use of these applications increased by 40% in the population group between 18 and 34 years old. And, although the latest WhatsApp update has generated controversy among users, WhatsApp Business has hinted at the potential that the tool has for companies and customers. «It has all the potential to establish itself as a tool that enables direct contact between a user and the customer service of their favorite brand. In this way, the user will not have to contact her by email or phone, and the closeness and proximity that brands are looking for will be achieved “, explains Nil Garcia, professor of the Social Media Advertising subject of the University Master’s Degree in Strategy and Creativity in Advertising from the Open University of Catalonia (UOC).

Messaging has become the digital commerce channel in Latin America and has surpassed websites, emails
and applications. In fact, about 32% of the companies in the region have adopted the use of this tool, even faster than Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This is demonstrated by Zendesk in a study conducted. According to the UOC professor, although
The application will include functionalities of an online market (such as the integration of catalogs, purchase of products or payments), it will not be its main strength, since this tool, designed to automate, organize and quickly respond to messages, will progress in this regard to become a “generic” tool that offers all possible services.

The figures prove it: every day, more than 175 million people send messages to a WhatsApp Business account, which makes this tool an interesting alternative in the relationship between clients and companies. “There is no doubt that, if the platform is well developed, it can become a tool implemented in most e-commerce companies as a form of contact and customer service. The arrival and consolidation of WhatsApp Business will mark a before and after in the retail industry and in electronic commerce (e-commerce) “, adds Garcia.

¿WhatsApp Business vs. redes sociales?

According to the social media expert (social media), WhatsApp Business will link directly to other Facebook channels, such as Instagram or Messenger. Therefore, you will be connected to the ecosystem of the social network. It is expected that, in the future, payment tools will be implemented to democratize the access of brands to these applications, which will make the messaging platform a transversal and common tool in a large number of companies.

“It seems that some of the measures that it will introduce will be commissions on payments and money transfers, e-commerce management systems or even WhatsApp subscriptions only for companies. There is nothing defined, but it is clear that the social media giant is going to monetize and make the most of its applications, “says Garcia.

WhatsApp Business updates

Although WhatsApp does not plan to incorporate advertising on its platform in the short term, with the latest updates from WhatsApp and Facebook, this is a possibility that, for the UOC expert, cannot be set aside. The Zuckerberg conglomerate has more and more information about users and their brands: the transfer and collection of private data includes everything from the phone number, information about the device, the cell phone company and the IP address, to payments and transactions made through WhatsApp.

«With the recent changes in its privacy policy, the door is opened to collect more information about users, and, therefore, to include targeted ads in the channel.

Live social shopping is a highly recommended option especially for retail businesses, since it allows the platform to be used as a sales channel and customer service, taking into account that WhatsApp Business gives the option of integrating the company’s catalog so that users can buy directly through the application. This has been demonstrated by the application with its most recent addition: WhatsApp Pay, the new function that will face PayPal or Bizum to send or receive money and make payments without leaving the platform.

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