For eCommerce businesses new to the system, WhatsApp may seem like an ordinary messaging app. Well, it was so in the early days of its inception in 2009. However, by the time 2023 rolled up, it amassed an impressive number of 2.5 billion followers globally. And the number is still on the rise.
WhatsApp has evolved from an app that connects families and friends to a SaaS tool propelling business communication. Meta formally launched the WhatsApp Business suite (API and mobile application) in 2018. Since then, it has paved the way for businesses to establish a personal connection with their customers over messaging.
This article discusses all the impressive use cases of WhatsApp API for eCommerce. This is particularly useful for businesses wanting to understand the massive utility WhatsApp Business API can give them.
What is WhatsApp Business API?
The WhatsApp Business application programming interface is a repository that stores all the functions of the Whatsapp Business program. Its essential task is to promote automated WhatsApp communication services with customers for large-scale businesses.
The API is developed by Meta (erstwhile Facebook Developers). The way the API works is by integrating with a backend server of the host. The host can either be a third-party solution like a business solution provider (BSP) officially recognized by Meta. Alternatively, it can be the brand linking their backend with Facebook Developer to access the WhatsApp cloud API.
In many cases, companies prefer to use a BSP to save up on time in setting up the API and to create a streamlined communication system. Doing so enables the API to operate with a user interface that the brand or the BSP creates.
The WhatsApp Business API has multiple features; the well-known ones are message broadcasting, chatbot-led communication, and CTA buttons. For eCommerce brands, the API has special significance in forwarding transactional messaging, quick responses and marketing campaigns.
Key Reasons Why eCommerce Companies Should Use WhatsApp API
The benefits of using the WhatsApp Business platform go beyond its features and include the following perks:-
It ensures that your business has a global presence among consumers from 180+ countries, especially in the markets of India, the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, Indonesia, and Nigeria.
It can foster conversational commerce where you interact with shoppers via messaging and help them with purchasing decisions, post-purchase engagement, and post-sales support.
It supports 60+ global languages allowing you to promote content and converse with shoppers in their preferred language.
It offers a price advantage to small and medium brands by allowing the first 1000 messages in a month free.
Top 19 Use Cases of WhatsApp for All eCommerce Businesses
1) Plugin the WhatsApp Widget and Click-to-Chat Anywhere
Customer communication should ideally happen in any medium, from your website product pages to customer service IVRS calls and emails. Since the dawn of WhatsApp Business API, WhatsApp chat has become the preferred channel of conversation between shoppers and brand representatives.
To maintain the versatility in customer service and flexibility to choose any medium preferred by consumers, the WhatsApp widget was created. The application can be downloaded and integrated into any part of your website.
Once your visitors click on the widget chat space, you can chat with them there or shift the conversation to their WhatsApp chats. WhatsApp widget allows easy access to visitors to talk with your brand and nurture potential leads with conversational, two-way messaging.
2) Utilize Multimedia Chat Options for Deep Conversation
Deep conversations are synonymous with contextual, value-adding dialogues that hold the essence of conversational commerce. The idea is to foster conversation that feels ‘human-like’ in an era where chatbot-led business messaging is starting to feel like a norm.
WhatsApp has rich multimedia chat options that support video and audio, GIFS, emoticons, and PDFs for quick document sharing and images. The use of these formats enhances customer interaction with readily shareable information like video tutorials and audio messages. It also helps brands set the appropriate tone for the chat session.
For example, a big part of customer communication is to resolve their queries with relevant data. You can use WhatsApp’s multimedia to send educational content that acts as self-service resources before a frequently asked query about the product is raised.
3) Offer Quick Query Resolution with List Messages and Reply Buttons
For eCommerce businesses relying on transactional conversations, automated communication is a great asset. WhatsApp introduced list messages that are formatted with pre-selected responses in a drop-down menu. The list of options keeps the conversation compact and pragmatic.
As such, list messages are best suited to aid customer service for quick resolution of customer queries. List messages can be appropriately used on occasions when users demand shipping updates, tracking information, or a takeout menu.
List messages can be automatically forwarded by WhatsApp chatbots. Chatbots can be programmed to issue list messages when addressing routine questions in real-time. The user can select an option in the list to raise their problem, and chatbots then deliver the appropriate response.
WhatsApp’s reply buttons work similarly to list messages. A reply message is configured with a limited set of responses to answer user questions. Usually, reply buttons are excellent for things like reordering a purchase, filing a return request, and choosing a payment option.
4) Increase Response Time with Quick Replies and Canned Messages
Quick replies are shortcuts for messages that are regularly demanded by customers. They are a great resource for customary greeting messages, routine returns, refund alerts, technical queries, and delayed replies.
Quick replies dramatically reduce response times and maintain a consistent tone of brand voice. Businesses can store up to 50 templated quick replies in their WhatsApp business account.
Similar to quick replies, canned messages are templated responses to frequently asked questions. In an ongoing conversation, support representatives can answer with a canned message to increase resolution time. They are short and directly address customer queries. Sometimes they can also include a CTA button for marketing drives.
5) Release a Stream of Optimized Alerts for Customer Retention
Alerts and notifications are useful tools for customer engagement and, ultimately, retention. Alerts such as order confirmation, appointment reminders, back in stock products inform shoppers that are important updates for customers.
Automating alert notifications not only creates a steady stream of communication channels but also keeps customers from missing out on them. These transactional messages are sent on time and can have multi-media variables for contextual messaging.
6) Streamline Post-Purchase Communication with Delivery Notifications
Post-purchase communication usually involves shipping updates, delivery confirmations, and shipment delay notifications. In fact, WhatsApp has extremely high open rates (99%) in contrast to emails. This means customers are 10x more likely to read messages that can otherwise be unnoticed in emails.
Another use case of WhatsApp API is that it can embed product catalogs and product recommendations for different customer segments. In this way, you can send cross-selling messages to customers who are most likely to repeat a purchase as part of your post-purchase strategy.
7) Use Live Location Sharing Option to Track Orders
WhatsApp has in-built live-location sharing that lets the user share and track live locations with others. This comes especially handy for tracking orders when they are out for delivery. At times customers can also send their location to agents in cases where they fail to discover the address.
The embedded Google map allows easy route navigation for agents to locate the customer. Moreover, in cases where additional assistance is needed, they can instruct the delivery agent on chat for an accurate location. All this can be done without the fear of losing one’s security, given the embedded nature of WhatsApp’s messages.
8) Step Up the Game with Non-Transactional Messaging
WhatsApp API lets you bring your A game in marketing with non-transactional messaging that is intended for sales and promotions. Examples of this include reminders, abandoned cart alerts, personal offers, discounts, and cashback offers.
One advantage of non-transactional messaging is that customers must opt-in to receive them. This takes away the intrusive aspects of promotional advertising that usually crop up in emails and social media fees. With a well-defined target audience, brands can promote offers or products that are relevant to their consumer base.
9) Add Value to Customer Experience with Personalized Interactions
Personalization is a marketing technique that involves designating an individual identity to customers. In other words, the brand values and connects with individuals, understanding their preferences and curating a shopping experience tailored to them.
With WhatsApp Business API, you can design personalized customer service solutions and marketing tactics customized to each buyer persona. With conversational messaging, support agents can reference previous chats to resolve refund issues.
In marketing, you can include personalized CTA buttons appropriate to the conversation style of each individual. Brands can also keep separate tabs on individual product preferences and show them a catalog highly relevant to their tastes.
10) Broadcast Messages and Promotion Materials to Groups
Message broadcasting is a handy feature of the WhatsApp API that enables retailers to forward messages in bulk to different customer groups. Over the years, WhatsApp groups have become little communities of people who share the same end goal or objective.
For marketers, WhatsApp groups are the best places to connect with large audiences. Broadcast messages can be used by companies like publishing houses for newsletters, product promos, and events. It is also a cost-effective way of mass advertisement with greater potential for lead generation.
11) Enhance Brand Perception with Automated Chatbots
Automation has become an established standard of operation for the eCommerce industry. Needless to say, communication too has become automated with AI-led chatbots to reduce customer response times and uplift customer care services.
You can deploy Chatbots to answer routine questions raised by customers in a time-efficient manner. Queries such as ‘where is my order’ or ‘cancel my order’ can be effectively handled by chatbots in seconds. Moreover, you can use chatbots 24/7, offering round-the-clock support services.
12) Create a Smooth Shopping Experience with Product Catalogs
Product catalogs are excellent ways to incentivize sales by engaging customers with the best of your products. WhatsApp API and WhatsApp App allow businesses to showcase a portion of their products with images, descriptions, and prices in their business profile.
Small and medium enterprises can specifically use product catalogs as a means to drive more sales on WhatsApp. You can even include the catalog while conversing with customers to help with quick decision-making and improve user experience.
Chatbots can be built to extend product suggestions in response to customer queries like ‘what’s new in stock’ or ‘is the dress I wishlisted available’?
13) Optimize Chat Support and Customer Feedback
Gaining customer trust comes with empathetic chat support assistance. The reason why brands must prioritize customer support and feedback is that 80% of customers move to competitors if they have two bad experiences.
With WhatsApp API, you get the chance to integrate your CRM software with the platform. This enables you to get the best of conversational messaging for customer support.
With WhatsApp's diverse language support, you can also offer multilingual support. You can close customer queries within 24 hours by either using chatbots or manually answering questions for serious issues.
Like support, WhatsApp allows you to gather customer feedback by including surveys or survey URLs in chat and list messages with options like ‘was this helpful.’ List messages offer quick data collection of customers in the chat instead of shifting them to a different webpage.
14) Generate Leads and Escalate Sales with 1:1 Communication
The benefit of two-way or 1:1 conversation is that brands get the chance to create diverse customer experience pathways for each of them. This is a direct implication of personalization. You can promote products regularly with automation and engage customers in high-impact messaging.
With the WhatsApp API features like message broadcasting, chatbots, and status, you can promote brand messaging alongside your product catalogs. With chatbots, you can reach out to customers with exclusive deals, gift cards, coupons, and sales events.
You can also include educational resources like infographics, blog URLs, and white papers to nudge their interest in your brand. With continuous engagement, you can generate more leads and improve sales.
15) Enhance Customer Journeys with the Find My Business Option
Meta developed a new feature for WhatsApp that allows customers of certain geographies to discover businesses around them from their chats. Currently, it is available in countries like the U.K., Colombia, Mexico, and Indonesia.
For businesses based in these countries, it is an excellent opportunity to gain visibility and attract new customers from WhatsApp users. Customers can quickly locate a business by allowing WhatsApp to access their location. The feature is especially helpful for restaurants and shops and for conversing with them in the chat.
16) Advance with Secure WhatsApp Payments Method
Like the ‘Business Discover’ feature, another important use case of the WhatsApp API for eCommerce is payment enablement. WhatsApp allows hassle-free money transfers to businesses and other contacts from the security of UPI (Unified Payments Interface).
This is a free-to-use feature that is convenient for transactions down within the WhatsApp chat with brands. By incorporating the payment option alongside product promotion and chatbot-led in-chat shopping, WhatsApp can become a legit channel for eCommerce.
17) Design Tailored Experiences for Different Customer Segments
WhatsApp API allows brands to segment customers based on their activity and status, from the most interactive to the least. Other forms of categorization include age, purchase readiness, frequency of chat read, messaging occasions, and opt-ins.
By segregating buyer personas, WhatsApp allows companies to create tailor-made customer experiences based on customer intention. Once you create the different customer types, you can leverage personalization techniques to boost customer engagement and reduce service subscriptions.
18) Address Customer Issues from User Generated Content
User-generated content usually alludes to customer testimonials, feedback, and social posts shared on social media regarding a brand’s product or service. WhatsApp too supports multimedia content like feedback, images, videos and audio. These content are valuable data sources of consumers’ insights about the pros and cons of a brand’s products and services.
Therefore, by soliciting customer-generated content on WhatsApp, you can improve your services. Particularly, you can collect feedback surveys from Google surveys or CTA buttons to a survey website. Once the data is gathered, it can be stored in a database and analyzed to understand consumer behavior.
You can implement ML based data analysis algorithms to extract customer sentiments, and determine the reasons for customer dissatisfaction. You can quantify the frequency of recurring keywords to understand the themes and services that a cluster of customers likes or dislikes. You can critically evaluate data to track customer sentiments and improve your services.
19) Boost Marketing Efforts with WhatsApp Ad Campaigns
WhatsApp ad campaigns are advertisements that work in synthesis with Facebook and Instagram. Companies create and float the ad on these platforms with a CTA button that redirects the user to a WhatsApp chat thread when clicked. The company interacts with the interested party over chat making use of WhatsApp’s rich media tools.
WhatsApp’s ad campaigns have already attracted the attention of big retail and multinational companies like Netflix, Unilever, ADAC, and Adidas. They have created campaigns in unique ways to share their product information or promote special events.
For example, Unilever used WhatsApp to uplift a fabric softener brand called Comfort for Brazilian consumers. The ad campaign was carried out on billboards and included the company’s WhatsApp business number as the point of contact.
Unilever designed a chatbot that gave customers relevant information on taking care of their clothes using the company’s new fabric softener. With this, 12,000 customers connected with the company on WhatsApp, resulting in 14x increase in sales.
The WhatsApp Business API is a magnificent tool that has multiple utilities. With the API, brands can effortlessly converse with customers, offer timely customer service, and market their brand ethics, products, and services. It's no wonder that over 5 million businesses are already working with WhatsApp to enhance customer experience.
FAQs About WhatApp Use Cases in eCommerce
5.1) How does WhatsApp Business API help with advertising?
Meta promotes a special category of ads for products and services called Click To WhatsApp ads that run on Facebook and Instagram. Whenever a viewer comes across such ads and clicks on the link, which takes them to the business’s WhatsApp chat. This allows brands to interact and convert customers over WhatsApp, taking advantage of its various multimedia and chatbot services.
2) How does WhatsApp API differ from WhatsApp for Business?
WhatsApp for Business is an application that any business person can download from Google Play Store or Apple Store. It is meant for small businesses looking to personalize their communication with customers on WhatsApp. The app comes with brand promotion tools like a business profile and product catalog display. The API version, on the other hand, is meant for medium and large businesses. It has greater capacity for mass communication, chatbot led customer support, and advertising options.