November 2020 | latest update: April 2023 | by Lili
The world’s largest messaging app, WhatsApp is joining Facebook, Instagram, and countless others in the world of social commerce. Over the next few months, WhatsApp will roll out several features that will allow businesses to showcase their products and let customers make purchases directly from their WhatsApp chat.
Image of Whatsapp Shopping Chat. Source: Whatsapp.com
Although direct purchases are definitely a novelty for WhatsApp, the messaging giant is not entirely new to the world of business. For the past two years, WhatsApp has provided businesses with messaging services to keep in touch with customers. According to their accumulated data, over 175 million people messaged businesses via the app on a daily basis.
This is customer service on a whole new level. Customers, tired of being put on hold, waiting days for a reply to an E-Mail, or sending off text messages to who knows where, are happy to receive instant assistance from businesses. On the other hand, businesses benefit from quickly resolved issues, faster communication, and the glowing reviews from satisfied customers.
But, just like Facebook did when launching Facebook shops, WhatsApp became a marketplace itself thanks to WhatsApp Shopping. Based on feedback from both businesses and customers, WhatsApp decided to expand its services and offer the option of direct purchases in the future. This step will help integrate the whole purchasing process and provide a smooth shopping experience for customers.
Since customers already use WhatsApp to contact businesses, integrating direct purchases into the messaging app seems like the logical next step. In fact, consumers in China have already been successfully using a similar app called WeChat for shopping.
When the upgrade is ready, customers will be able to check out product catalogs via WhatsApp. Then, if they see something they’d like to purchase, they’ll be able to put it in their shopping cart and buy the desired product(s) directly from the business. This new option will be seamlessly integrated into the current WhatsApp customer service features, providing an easier shopping experience for businesses and customers alike.
Visualisation of Whatsapp Shopping functions. Source: Whatsapp.com
Shopping on WhatsApp is currently free. However, businesses can expect to pay some kind of fee to the messaging company, based on their size and the type of service they use.
WhatsApp offers two roadmaps for businesses signing up for its services. Small businesses can download the WhatsApp Business app free of charge from mainstream app stores. This offers basic features, like a business profile, contact labelling and quick replies. However, only one user account can be associated with this app, which makes it inconvenient or even unsuitable for larger businesses.
For this reason, the messaging giant developed the WhatsApp Business API with medium to large companies in mind. This service requires a subscription with a Business Solution Provider, a third party contractor that enables your business to access the API.
BSPs usually charge a monthly fee for their services, and WhatsApp may even levy a charge on conversations conducted with your customers. The actual price depends on your region, your usage of the messaging service, and on your chosen BSPs pricing system.
WhatsApp is massively popular in India: 487.5 million people use the service to keep in touch with loved ones - and lately, to shop. Thanks to the partnership between WhatsApp’s parent company Meta and Indian e-Commerce platform JioMart, WhatsApp delivered its first end-to-end shopping experience in 2022.
Screenshot of JioMart.com’s homepage
JioMart users in India can now shop the e-Commerce company’s entire groceries catalogue on WhatsApp, put items in their cart, pay for them and arrange delivery without ever leaving the app. The initial numbers of this service are quite positive; the active consumer base is growing by 37% month-on-month, with the order value also steadily increasing.
Similarly to many other marketplaces, WhatsApp Shopping presents challenges regarding online brand protection. In fact, the nature of this relatively new marketplace (quite intimate: sales conducted in a chat window directly between vendor and customer) may even increase the usual risks of counterfeiting, grey markets, and copyright infringement.
Moreover, the business model itself may pose quite considerable challenges for your brand. Given the close, exclusive communication between vendor and customer during the entire purchase process, the vendor would de-facto act as a brand ambassador. In case of trusted vendors, this is great. In case of others, not so much.
"The sale of brand products can lose its transparency and an increasing amount of counterfeit trades can occur in closed groups"
These threats are real. According to a recent study, 1 in 5 products sold via E-Commerce marketplaces is fake. With the considerable intimacy and intransparency of a WhatsApp chat window, this number could get even worse. Although WhatsApp does have an anti-infringement section in its Commerce Policy, it doesn’t deter every seasoned fraudster from trying to make money off your brand’s IP rights.
Because of this closed nature of the new marketplace, it’s easy to see why tracking counterfeits or grey marketers could be even more difficult on WhatsApp Shopping than, say, eBay or Amazon. Luckily, you don’t have to do it by yourself. globaleyez offers several essential services for protecting your brand on WhatsApp Shopping.
Our marketplace and social media monitoring services are perfect for discovering IP infringing content like ads, product listings and posts on over 150 online marketplaces and several major social media platforms. We monitor brand pages and marketplaces on Facebook, Instagram and so on, including even closed buying groups with direct-buy options.
If you want us to go on, we won’t stop at monitoring: when we detect a fraudulent listing or a copyright infringement, we can take the necessary steps to get them removed from the platform.
WhatsApp Shopping may provide your brand an excellent opportunity to connect with and develop trust in customers. But if you’re planning to enter this new marketplace, you can’t ignore the challenges it may pose for your brand’s IP rights. Be ready to protect your brand in this new environment as well.