Over the years, small businesses have got a good hold of social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. for promoting their business and have benefitted immensely from having a strong presence over this medium. WhatsApp has also joined the bandwagon of these popular channels, to support the small businesses to expand their customer base.

What is WhatsApp for business?

WhatsApp for business was built while keeping small business owners in mind. With the App, the small business owners can easily interact with their customers by using various tools to quickly respond, automate and sort customer messages. WhatsApp for business is only available for android users in India that can be easily downloaded from the Play Store.

With more than 225+ million users of WhatsApp in India, it has been accounted that the small business owners of pharmacy, grocery stores, and departmental stores use the app casually to speak with the customers, hence consider it to be a potential business opportunity to tap on.

How does business for WhatsApp work?

To register on WhatsApp for business, businesses will need a number that is not connected to their personal WhatsApp account. It is mandatory to have a separate business number if it is not there then the businesses have to transfer their number with WhatsApp into the business account. Once the verification of the number is done, then the business profile can be created & the businesses can start communicating with their customers.

What are the features for WhatsApp business App?

Though the WhatsApp for business looks identical to the WhatsApp, however various tools & features make them different

The features for WhatsApp business are:

Business Profile 

Business Profile needs to be created and the business profile contains important information such as the owner’s business’s email, contact number & address. Information also needs to be filled for the location feature that allows a business to locate its store on the map. To safeguard the interest of the consumers, WhatsApp is trying to link the WhatsApp Business profile with the Facebook profile so that the customers do not get fooled by the fake business profiles.

Messaging Tools

Even if the customer base increases, the WhatsApp for business makes it easy for the business to engage with its customers. The feature helps in creating message templates that can be automatically sent to the customers. Some of the important function of the tool is

  • Quick Replies – quick response to the frequently asked queries by the customers.
  • Thank you messages – it is messaged whenever the consumer orders product or ask for some product details
  • Greetings message – can be sent when the businesses are first interacting with the customer
  • Away messages – when the businesses are unable to respond to the customer queries

However, the intent of Business WhatsApp is not to serve the bulk promotional messages but to maintain touch with the existing customers or leads and help customers to reach brands and vice-versa.

Message Statistic Tools

This tool helps the businesses to understand the performances of their businesses. The efficacy of the message strategies can be easily understood by the basic statistics such as several messages delivered and opened. It will help them to target customers that are engaging and resonate well with the customer. There is a plan of involving more statistical tools for deeper insights.

WhatsApp Web

Businesses have another option of sending and receiving messages to & from a customer just like the App. To have access to this service, the smartphone needs to be connected to the internet

What are the benefits of WhatsApp for business?

  • The customer will join a verified list of businesses on WhatsApp, which creates credibility
  • Unlocks business-specific features that the normal WhatsApp user does not have access to.
  • Businesses will have access to messaging tools & comprehensive reports and analytics.
  • Businesses can receive or send rich-text messages, images, videos & PDFs.
  • Authorized Business Solution Provider services will provide all the assistance, infrastructure and tech support for WhatsApp.
  • Additionally, a WhatsApp Partner will assist with the application process as the specific business use case needs to be defined.

What kind of business can be done on WhatsApp business?

All types of business (small & large), or even freelancers are free to use WhatsApp for business. For example, there are certain businesses such as Home Décor, Crafts & Arts, Jewellery & Accessories, Clothing, etc. that get almost sold out within minutes.

What is the pricing for WhatsApp business?

There are two types of business account:

  • WhatsApp Business App for small businesses
  • WhatsApp Business API for medium & large businesses

For small businesses, the WhatsApp Business app is free of cost. For large businesses, the pricing for WhatsApp is as follows:

  • WhatsApp API pricing is charged per message.
  • WhatsApp API accounts are only available through WhatsApp Partners.
  • Currently, the businesses need to pay two fees for messaging
    • Total price per message = A WhatsApp fee + A fee to WhatsApp Partner. Both the fees are collected by the WhatsApp Partner.

What is the risk of using WhatsApp for Business?

The potential risk of using WhatsApp for business is:

  • Does not provide Enterprise Data Protection – WhatsApp stores address books of employees which contains corporate & customer data. It currently does not provide enterprise-grade encryption.
  • Mixes private & business communication – considered to be unprofessional as people value both the communication separately.
  • Lack of Enterprise Administration – Things like easy roll-out, transparent monitoring, company-wide communication policies, simple user management, pre-configured devices, managed groups, quick support, etc. are not possible with WhatsApp and it has to depend upon a professional enterprise messaging app.
  • Does not protect against data loss –  does not have mobile security layer to protect the business data if the mobile gets stolen
  • Offers weak companion PC – the desktop needs to be constantly connected to the phone with the internet connectivity to function properly resulting in certain security risks.
  • Enterprise File Sharing Solutions not supported – Businesses often use enterprise-grade file sharing solutions like Microsoft SharePoint,  Business Connector, Acronis, which are not supported by Whatsapp 
  • Workflow mismanagement – does not accelerate  processes and do not improve operational execution
  • Lacks Enterprise Support – unable to provide 24*7 monitoring & support with the dedicated personnel

Many small businesses have scaled up their business with the help of WhatsApp as the customers are well attuned to the medium and feels the popular chat app to be a most fitting platform for their business compared to the e-commerce platforms like Amazon where the listing of their business results in a real struggle to get discovered and create traction among the customers.