In Nigeria, both e-commerce startups and traditional retailers in local markets have been experimenting with reaching their customers on WhatsApp, usually targeting popular WhatsApp groups or building broadcast lists.
WhatsApp has remained uncommunicative about its market opportunity in Africa—there are no publicly available data points on its market share or usage for Africa as a whole, much less individual countries. But it does seem to have been listening and has launched a standalone app targeting small businesses, currently just for Android users who dominate market share in emerging markets.
Over the last two years, WhatsApp, has stood out as one of the fastest growing media platforms in Africa. For many people, WhatsApp is their primary social media platform, not Facebook, which owns the messaging app.
WhatsApp rise has caused tensions with some of the mobile network operators as its success has eaten into the traditional voice and SMS revenue structure since the app enables users to make voice calls and text messaging for relatively low data costs.
Whatsapp, the messaging app, last week launched WhatsApp Business — a free-to-download Android app for small businesses.
“Our new app will make it easier for companies to connect with customers, and more convenient for our 1.3 billion users to chat with businesses that matter to them,” the company said in a blog post.
“We want to improve the business experience. For example, by making it easier for businesses to respond to customers, separating customer and personal messages, and creating an official presence.”
- Business Profiles: Help customers with useful information such as a business description, email or store addresses, and website.
- Messaging Tools: Save time with smart messaging tools — quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you’re busy.
- Messaging Statistics: Review simple metrics like the number of messages read to see what’s working.
- Quick Replies: Quick replies let you save and reuse messages you frequently send so you can easily answer common questions in no time.
- WhatsApp Web: Send and receive messages with WhatsApp Business on your desktop.
- Account Type: People will know that they’re talking to a business because you will be listed as a Business Account. Over time, some businesses will have Confirmed Accounts once it’s been confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number.
According to Whatsapp, users will not have to “download anything new” to access this version.
How Whatsapp Business will benefit your business
There are many advantages of using Whatsapp Business.
Today many business use private channels, such as their mobile phone, to communicate with their clients instead than professional ones. This is not a habit showing your professionalism. On the contrary, by using the new app you can show both your efficiency.
Moreover, by creating a Business Profile business owners will give visibility to their business. Customers will be able to view business address and contact details. This is something important today, with people using technology to find, discover and review your business. Downloading Whatsapp Business will be also a way to show guests your interest in them. You will be there. It means you keep up with the times, providing your clients with an extra service to improve your customer service.
Another advantage is the fact that when customers ask everyday questions such as your availability or your offers, you can save messages from former conversations and forward them as answers. You can also create automated messages, such as greetings or away texts.
Lastly, Whatsapp Web is also useful for you to monitor the communication with your guests. Indeed, through the app you can discover how many people contacted you and how many messages you sent. This can be an important tool, whether your business is new or old, to track people’s interest, improvements and weaknesses.