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Retail’s Biggest Weapon in 2021: WhatsApp

WhatsApp logoby Yuri Fiaschi

This is one of the harshest economic climates the world has ever seen — and with a potential second wave of the pandemic coming this winter, retailers are stressed about how to capitalize on the holiday season. With foot traffic likely to be much lower on Black Friday and leading up to Christmas, digitization and the use of integrated technologies are key to retailers’ bottom line and capturing the customer’s coins (and loyalty).

While online shopping, apps and chatbots have been utilized for quite some time, many U.S. retailers have yet to tap into a growing global trend: WhatsApp. Across the world, particularly in Asia and Latin America, WhatsApp is one of the most common forms of communication. In fact, 93 percent of Brazilians actively use the app. However, in the U.S., only 20 percent of Americans have the app downloaded and even fewer use it frequently.

COVID may be the start of new partnerships and integrations for WhatsApp, and make for a more lucrative year for retailers in 2021. For instance, Infobip has seen a gigantic growth in its WhatsApp customer base in this year. Retail, in particular, skyrocketed by 115 percent — with triple-digit growth in the Americas (and Africa).

In 2021, retailers looking to succeed can use WhatsApp for a variety of automation, personalization and upselling purposes — all the while working to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Using the app, retailers can direct customers to virtual assistants, encouraging self-service options that reduce wait times and the number of inquiries that could be solved without the help of a human. WhatsApp also removes the need for the customer to repeat aspects of their original request, allowing for a seamless transfer.
  • Retailers can also use WhatsApp to suggest similar items when one is out of stock, or another item often paired with the original purchase. Consumers can also track loyalty points on the go, without downloading a separate app or using a separate sign-in. This harmonious experience encourages repeat customers and a loyal customer base.
  • Last, WhatsApp can also support delivery and returns by providing real-time updates all the way up until when the package is delivered. The channel can also handle in-the-moment requests for locating a package, selecting a “safe space” for dropoff, and beyond.

The widespread nature and efficiency that WhatsApp can bring to retailers (and businesses outside the sector) cannot be overstated — while American businesses and consumers are still adopting the technology into their daily processes and lives, it still remains a market to be captured. As digital continues to dominate the marketplace — and even more aggressively due to COVID — WhatsApp is primed for a potential takeover here in the States.

Yuri FiaschiYuri Fiaschi is Vice President, Global Sales at Infobip, where he is responsible for leading the company’s sales organization, developing partnerships and alliances, and evaluating strategic acquisitions. Yuri has more than 20 years of experience in mobility, technology and sales, having started his career at IBM, where he worked for nearly 10 years as Sales Manager.

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