How are India’s SMBs and micro-businesses are driving growth using WhatsApp?

Consumer & retail businesses are rapidly switching over to WhatsApp to promote and build more intimate customer relationships and stay ahead of their competition for top-of-the-mind awareness. 


In the months trailing the global pandemic, which virtually brought a lot of these businesses to a standstill, the emergence of WhatApp as a viable marketplace does not come across as a surprise. With the business environment opening up, businesses are gearing up for offline sales but in a hybrid format that also covers your online bases. Semi or completely online businesses have the inherent advantage of continuity while facing market uncertainties, unpredictable restrictions & lockdowns.


In addition to this, the pandemic has brought in an entirely fresh horde of the new digital consumer, irrespective of geography or demography.


The covid lockdown brought the immediate need for brands to start engaging with their consumers & WhatsApp was poised to be the most effective tool for this, given how ingrained it has become in the Indian subcontinent. 


On one hand, this has led a majority of businesses to completely revisit their digital strategy & media mix. On the other hand, there still exist a reasonable number of SMBs that have shied away from investing in their digital presence or infrastructure presuming it to be a massive investment that is monetary, effort-intensive, or time-intensive.


Today, brands are keener on being present everywhere or having an omnichannel presence where they are less than a digital stone’s throw away from the consumer. WhatsApp as a platform is used by over 25% of the world population across 180 countries & almost 200 million messages are sent to businesses every single day.

For a small business that is wondering what the hype is & whether they need to be a part of this, a simple picturization technique should do the trick. Visualize having a verified, dedicated & authentic WhatsApp business account where customers could reach out for product inquiries, query resolution, updates & notifications, and any other form of support. One could imagine that it won’t just help give better service to the customer, boost retention, cross & up-sell products/services but simply take the business on a huge upwards trajectory.


Conversation-driven conversions are the future of small & medium retail with companies like Pinnacle Teleservices Pvt Ltd, which simply drive-up customer engagement allowing conversations & connections to turn into tangible revenue. Businesses do not need to go overboard with their tech investments, nor do they need specially trained staff to handle complex dashboards. 


When we talk about Pinnacle’s WhatsApp Business Account, the service enables small & micro-businesses to handle all their communication online. The service is built on the official WhatsApp Business API, simplifying customer conversations & driving them to specific conversion objectives. Inbound product inquiries on WhatsApp can be easily converted into paying customers by taking orders on WhatsApp, helping recover abandoned carts into sales with reminders & call-to-actions, and sending order details and updates to customers all the while engaging them via multi-agent support. The essence is to allow these businesses to utilize WhatsApp as a complete solution right from generating a lead, to engage in customer dialogue, resulting in sales conversions & post-sales service. The result is a seamless customer experience increasing conversions, loyalty & advocacy.


 In an interview with the economic times, Abhijit Bose, head of WhatsApp India opened up about the current wave of businesses being digitized. 


“Businesses are taking to WhatsApp in a big way”, says Abhijit Bose, “hundreds of companies are joining the business platform every month to connect with the fast-growing user base in the country. Hundreds of businesses, government institutions, and entrepreneurs are now launching their services on the WhatsApp business platform every month as adoption by users is accelerating.”


  “WhatsApp connects over 400 million users in India who trust us on messaging, audio, and video calls. In India, services on the WhatsApp API platform have grown significantly. People today don’t want to call a 1-800 number and wait on hold, or send an email and not know whether it’s been read. They want to send a message and get a quick, personalized response,” he said.


 “There are several interesting product updates which we announced this year and there will be several others which we will be launching soon. Across the world, WhatsApp is quickly becoming the virtual store counter for customers to engage with brands, ask questions, discuss products, close sales and seek support,” he added.


He opined that companies in telecom, ed-tech, media and entertainment, and BFSI sectors are big adopters of the WhatsApp Business platform. “In fact for some specific sectors such as telecom, D2H, and utilities, WhatsApp chatbots are also driving cost efficiency in customer support. Customers can easily interact with their service providers and troubleshoot their queries through WhatsApp chatbots to get the fastest possible resolution,” he said.


WhatsApp has significantly reduced the time a business needs to be up & running from weeks to five minutes now. The platform is also at the cutting-edge of innovation constantly experimenting with newer features to drive up conversions such as the new messaging features to get faster responses. New list messages allow a menu of up to 10 options following a conversational flow which saves on the response time for customers by completely avoiding the need to type the message out.


Reply buttons allow a selection from up to three replies with a single tap that is customizable for a business through their WhatsApp Business API account.

Bose said business messaging has the potential to change the customer service market, just like mobiles changed the digital ad market. “As part of our consistent focus on R&D, we continue to invest in building new features that would further simplify and add value to customer journeys on our WhatsApp-API platform solutions,” he added.