Integrated WhatsApp campaigns can dramatically boost retailers’ conversion rates

(Source: Bigstock.)

WhatsApp has always been a powerful messaging tool, with encrypted end-to-end security. Now, Hong Kong tech companies Sanuker and Linkage have taken the concept a long leap further, allowing retailers to boost marketing and sales conversion rates, build long-lasting customer partnerships and even integrate fully functional online stores within the app. 

Sanuker, a WhatsApp Business Solution Provider, in partnership with Linkage which has been building retailers’ back-end POS systems for three decades, stands out by being the first to integrate WhatsApp’s messaging tools with a retailer’s POS and inventory systems. Using their system, retailers can respond to customer enquiries via messaging and sell products directly without leaving WhatsApp, says Burton Chau, GM at Sanuker. 

“Furthermore, we can address a major retailer pain point – tackling the e-commerce challenges of setup cost, time and customer reach,” explains Chan. “An integrated WhatsApp e-shop can be set up in a few days, then – just by making use of their existing customer contacts – a retailer can push the WhatsApp e-shop directly to the customer. New customers can reach the e-shop simply by scanning a QR code or clicking through Meta ads and that process gives the retailer the new customer contact’s details immediately.”

WhatsApp Business API is a tool that allows merchants to undertake a variety of automated tasks, including broadcasting to thousands or even millions of customers within seconds. That’s why there are new services being developed by WhatsApp business solution providers. 

WhatsApp is the most popular communications app in the Southeast Asian region, so it is a vital tool for retailers to use in terms of customer retention and personalised promotions. “But traditionally, retailers have not been able to deliver the same e-commerce shopping experience in WhatsApp – or any other messaging program – because it was difficult to replicate the workflow of a web-based online store,” says Chan. 

No more, with the two companies successfully integrating the messaging channel with a full suite of retail management functionality in the back end. Better still, the implementation time is as little as one week – compared to months for a transactional website or mobile app. 

Clarence Chan, managing consultant at Linkage, says retailers are always looking for an efficient way to develop good communication with their customers. 

“WhatsApp is the most handy and responsive app they are using daily. With our integration, they can use it as another touch point. Regardless of whether the customer originally came to know the retailer through e-commerce or by walking into a physical store, WhatsApp provides the same touchpoint and the customer can enjoy the same shopping experience, including the checkout process and customer services.”

SE Asian consumers are heavily engaged with WhatsApp

The average WhatsApp user opens the app 22 times a day and spends hours on the app every day. With shopping already a part of the daily life of consumers, the platform offers a significant opportunity to understand customers and connect with them where they happen to be – on an app they use every single day.

One converted customer is charger brand Anker Indonesia, which achieved an engagement rate through Sanuker’s WhatsApp system as much as 30 times higher than with traditional SMS messages. Even better, almost three in 10 customers add products to their shopping carts. 

“Using WhatsApp, we turned up the volume on our customer engagement, sending out 300 messages per second,” explains Ridwan Hidayat, GM at Anker Indonesia. “That translated to nearly 300,000 messages over one week. 

“Importantly, customers who were already used to communicating with us through WhatsApp were more receptive to the messages we sent. The open rates for messages in WhatsApp reached over 63 per cent in a short time.” 

Another customer conducted AB testing comparing SMS texts and WhatsApp messages and learned that with WhatsApp, the average conversion rate was 60 per cent higher than SMS.

A rapidly deployed and integrated  e-commerce infrastructure

“None of this is possible if Sanuker did not have the back-end infrastructure support from Linkage,” asserts Chau. WhatsApp Business API may not necessarily be new to retailers, but Sanuker’s approach in tandem with Linkage is taking away another pain point: by integrating with CRM and POS systems, data once siloed around various parts of the business can all be accessed directly by the WhatsApp API and used to deliver personalised campaigns in minutes.

By collecting data on customer interactions on WhatsApp, a retailer can learn the best time to send communications or vouchers and to a degree predict their shopping behaviour. “No matter if they interact with us online, offline or through WhatsApp, the data is collected at a single source, so they have a holistic understanding of what’s happening and how to interact with their customer,” explains Chan. 

“Everyone is talking about how important WhatsApp is, but I really want to highlight how important it is how much you know about your customer and how personalised your WhatsApp message can become in driving conversions,” concludes Chau.

Retailers can have the phone numbers of thousands or even millions of ‘sleeping’ customers, adds Chan. “But until now, they never had a chance to send a direct marketing message to them.

“Before WhatsApp, they were using a lot of SMS marketing, but no one pays attention to SMS messages anymore, and SMS carries a lot of spam. With WhatsApp, the retailer can have a verified account, noted by a green tick in a circle beside the identity. With that tick, no one can impersonate the brand, as can be the case with traditional SMS messages.

“Just imagine how many sleeping customers you could wake up with this tool.”