Launched in January 2018, WhatsApp Business is a specialised application that caters for the unique needs of businesses, thereby reshaping the landscape of online customer interactions. The WhatsApp business platform has evolved significantly, providing businesses with powerful tools aimed at bolstering their online presence and enabling more efficient and professional customer engagement. Recent developments in WhatsApp Business include the introduction of a new feature called Flows. In this piece, we will be delving into the implications of this new feature for the company and its users.
Transforming Shopping on WhatsApp
The introduction of the Flows feature is to facilitate a wide range of interactions between businesses and users within the WhatsApp app. With Flows, users can seamlessly complete various tasks, from reserving a seat on a flight to booking an appointment with their favourite salon, without ever leaving the app.
Building Blocks of Flows
Merchants on WhatsApp will have access to a variety of building blocks to create these immersive shopping experiences. These building blocks encompass elements like text boxes, calendars, seat pickers, and more. These tools empower businesses to craft customised and interactive experiences for their customers, making it easier for users to engage with their products and services. For instance, businesses can use Flows for tasks such as booking appointments, customising products, logging into accounts, filling out forms, and registering for events.
Testing and Partnerships
WhatsApp has been diligently testing Flows with various businesses to ensure its functionality and effectiveness. Notable partners in this endeavor include Brazilian bank Banco Pan, prominent retailer MagaLu, global tech giant Lenovo, Indian travel service redBus, India-based bank SBI, and the car-reselling platform Spinny. These partnerships have provided valuable insights and fine-tuning for the Flows feature.
Elevating E-commerce on WhatsApp
WhatsApp recognizes the immense potential of e-commerce and shopping within its platform. Nikila Srinivasan, VP of business messaging at Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, expressed the company’s commitment to enhancing the shopping experience. Srinivasan emphasized that Flows is just one step in their journey to enable businesses and users to conduct a wide array of activities right within the chat thread.
While Flows initially targets e-commerce businesses, WhatsApp’s long-term vision extends beyond this sector. The company aims to develop rich, interactive experiences within the chat for various types of businesses. This versatility hints at WhatsApp’s ambition to become a versatile platform for business-customer interactions across industries.
WhatsApp’s revenue model for businesses primarily revolves around charging them for conversations, specifically interactions that occur within a 24-hour window. These conversations are categorised into marketing, utility, authentication, and service. For instance, a customer’s request to book an appointment typically falls under the utility category. Notably, WhatsApp is not charging businesses separately for the Flows feature; it will be seamlessly integrated into the existing payment model.
In a bid to offer more payment options to its users in India, where WhatsApp boasts over 500 million users, the platform has partnered with payment gateway providers Razorpay and PayU. This collaboration enables users to make payments through various UPI (Unified Payment Interface) apps, credit cards, and debit cards, thus providing more flexibility and convenience for transactions. WhatsApp had previously partnered with Reliance Jio for an end-to-end shopping experience, exclusively through WhatsApp Pay.
WhatsApp’s success in the business realm relies heavily on facilitating more conversations and transactions for its merchant partners. Flows, coupled with extended payment support in India, underscore the company’s commitment to fostering end-to-end shopping experiences and encouraging frequent business transactions within the app.
Earlier this year, WhatsApp reported that its business app had surpassed 200 million monthly active users. Additionally, the platform has been testing the personalised messages feature, allowing businesses to send custom messages, such as discounts or offers, to select customers. This feature is poised to enhance customer engagement and strengthen the bond between businesses and their clientele.
In conclusion, WhatsApp Business continues to evolve and empower businesses with innovative features like Flows designed to enhance the shopping experience and customer-business engagement within the app. WhatsApp, in the same vein, is not relenting in expanding its partnerships and offerings with its vast user base and commitment to user-friendly features. WhatsApp Business is set to shape the future of online commerce and communication.