WhatsApp is launching its first revenue-generating product in India for enterprises to interact directly with customers using the instant messaging platform. According to a TechCrunch report, the WhatsApp Business API will let businesses respond to messages from users for free for up to 24 hours but will charge them a fixed rate by country per message sent after that.
“Businesses will still only be able to message people who contacted them first, but the API will help them programmatically send shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets. Clients also can use it to manually respond to customer service inquiries through their own tool or apps like Zendesk, MessageBird or Twilio,” mentioned the report.
WhatsApp for Business APIs will debut with companies such as MakeMyTrip, Zendesk and 1mg.
This means that if a user is booking tickets online from MakeMyTrip, then he will be receiving confirmation on WhatsApp. Also, if in case there’s any issue with the flight, then the flight company can also communicate messages via WhatsApp to the users.
WhatsApp is already piloting the service since September 2017 with BookMyShow and is now looking to monetise the offering.
“Last year we saw that a lot of small businesses were using the app for communicating with their customers. We realised that it was a useful tool for businesses in India and created value for the consumers as well,” said Matthew Idema, chief operating officer at WhatsApp to ET.
The key to the popularity of WhatsApp Business in India is its ease of use. As of now, the free-to-download Android app for small businesses just requires a separate number to register on the WhatsApp Business app, from the number used in WhatsApp Messenger.
One can even use a landline number to register on the app. Once verification is done, one can set his/her business name on the app.
Moreover, the Business app offers business profiles that will give customers useful information such as a business description, email or store addresses, and website.
It also has messaging tools like 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.”
With an Indian user base of 200 Mn, the instant messaging service WhatsApp is already been used by businesses to convert clients and drive sales. In India, 84% of SMBs think that WhatsApp helps them communicate with customers.
In such a scenario, WhatsApp Business is expected to have a smooth growth curve ahead in the Indian landscape. The only player that can give tough competition to WhatsApp is Paytm, which, in November 2017, launched its own chat app Paytm Inbox for business-to-consumer interaction.