E-commerce for WhatsApp: How to respond to a flood of messages?

We all want to get an instant response to our questions when we’re buying something. Learn how to handle even a flood of messages without sacrificing response times.

Everyone wants an instant answer when they buy a product. Save time, reduce costs, and respond more quickly with these tips. 

The global Coronavirus pandemic changed our consumption habits. From bulk purchases to a necessary migration to 100% online media.

And let’s be honest: What consumers buy isn’t  the only  thing that has changed, but also when and how they are buying.

The new normal in a post-pandemic world will be ecommerce. And we must remember this key fact: this crisis will have implications over the next decade, which raises the question: is your business ready?

During the most acute point of the crisis 3.9 billion people were quarantining around the world. This is equivalent to half the global population.

And in the face of the crisis, the income from the e-commerce sector has not stopped growing. In 2019, for example, it increased by 25%, numbers that few industries can boast.

So, what is the effect of Covid-19 on ecommerce?

The more cities were submerged into quarantine, the more businesses were forced to close their doors. But far from suffering losses, ecommerce experienced a boom. 

In fact, a survey conducted by Nielsen identified three changes in consumer behavior linked to the pandemic:

  • Proactive purchase of health and wellness products
  • Reactive products for health management, such as masks or disinfectants.
  • Groceries and household pantry items.
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Soon, more and more studies revealed that e-commerce was indeed experiencing a boom. That was the case for Content Square, which showed a 48% growth in transactions.

And what happened in China?

Let’s remember that the pandemic started there, so that they in a sense ahead in time.

A point of clarification: we are talking about a country where, before the pandemic, nine out of 10 consumers preferred to buy through ecommerce rather than offline.

Anyway, many consumers began to shop aggressively online. Meicai, a fresh food e-commerce platform, recruited 6,000 drivers to ship orders.

And Baidu experienced an increase of between 273% and 2,800% during the first two months of 2020, especially in food and fresh produce.

On this side of the globe, it didn’t take long to see the same…


The effect of COVID-19 on Latin American e-commerce

According to BNamericas in Brazil, the sale of computers rose 112% in the first two weeks of March. In Argentina, the number of people who started online shopping grew by 90%.

In Chile, e-commerce grew by 119%, and in Colombia 28%. In Mexico, the online supermarket Justo.mx, experienced a 500% increase in orders.

And in the midst of the pandemic, Amazon had to go out and hire 100 thousand full-time employees to fulfill orders. All this not to mention the home delivery service apps that climbed to unthinkable numbers and positioned themselves among the top download spots.

In other words, the world’s largest retailer, Amazon announced that it could not keep pace with consumer demand.

A true paradox…

And I mean, this was going to happen. By 2023 online retail is expected to reach$ 20,500 billion worldwide. The pandemic only accelerated the change

But this only shows something else: that this sector has not been able to withstand the increase in demand. Like so many others, they could not be described as well-prepared.

From where we wrote this note, in Argentina, a shipment from a supermarket now takes between five and seven days, when before it was a couple of hours.

How to respond to the huge number of queries?

What is the most effective way to organize the logistics structure?

One word: Communication.


The omnichannel era

In the old days, a customer had to approach the business he was interested in, interact with a seller, and buy a product. There was only one communication and sales channel.

Today everything has changed. And yes, the Internet’s appearance on the scene was the trigger…

Did you know that today 73% of people combine the digital and physical channels before making a purchase?

So says a very interesting study by the Harvard Business Review.

Basically, a person can find your business through a paid ad on Facebook, go to your website and ask a question via the chat on the home page, forget for a couple of days about the matter, and be influenced by a remarketing campaign from Google Ads via Display and, finally, make a call to close and finalize the details.

Ecommerce por WhatsApp

Did you see how many channels this client used? And this was all one person.

And here’s another piece of information. 15 years ago, the consumer generally used two points of contact when purchasing an item. Only 7% regularly used more than four.

Today, according to Marketing Week, consumers use on average almost six points of contact. In addition, almost 50% regularly use more than four.

Worst of all, 55% of companies don’t have an omnichannel strategy defined, according to The CMO Club.

And this, believe it or not, is the day-to-day of an ecommerce platform (like Woocommerce)…

That’s why we’ll give you a tip before we continue.

Identify and define the buyer persona for your business-a fictitious representation of your ideal client -, because it should be clear who they are, what their interests, motivations, goals, and needs are…

Only then can you discern in which communication channels it is most effective to create specific and personalized actions for each segment.

That’s where a tool that you probably know comes in: WhatsApp.


Ecommerce via WhatsApp

It is the messaging app par excellence. In February 2020, WhatsApp reported it had 2 billion users around the world, trouncing its competition.

Soon after, in the places most affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, messaging via WhatsApp increased by as much as 70%. 

Poco después, en los países más afectados por el brote del coronavirus, la mensajería vía WhatsApp aumentó hasta un 70%.

So, okay, it’s the perfect tool for users. But can it also work for ecommerce?

Well, according to Sendinblue, WhatsApp Business has an open rate of 70%, compared to 29% for email.

That’s the case for Vitricristales, an ecommerce company from Colombia that sells trophies, medals, commemorative plaques, and other etched products. They handle 100% of their customer service via WhatsApp. 

In the past, says Daniel Cardona, the general manager of Vitricristales, ecommerce was limited by fear of being scammed.

But the pandemic introduced us to more pressing fears. Now the trend toward digital channels is on its way, and not adapting to it will be costly in the future. “Businesses should be positioning themselves with ecommerce SEO techniques and paid ads to offer an excellent user experience on all channels” to survive.

What is ecommerce via WhatsApp like, then?


WhatsApp and e-commerce: use cases

Here are a few ideas:


  • Capture leads

How often have you gone to a website and found a bot that pops up after a few seconds, almost desperate to help you?

And what if instead of a help bot, there was a WhatsApp button? Would you use it?

Once you have a potential lead’s information, it’s easy to send them notifications, news, and updates using a channel they check frequently.

Personalized experience

A contact enters your funnel and you automatically get (at least) their phone number and country of residence. It’s up to you to ask for additional information.

Once you have it, you can personalize the conversation immediately with various dialogue flows. This could mean, for example, showing a different menu, showing options specific to their region, or certain products.


  • Lead qualification

Let’s say your business gets 500 new leads every day. That’s a tone, and neither you nor your team will be able to respond to all of them.

So, you start filtering…

Using an ecommerce chatbot, for example, you can ask a few key questions related to your business, which will also help you collect basic information to personalize the user experience even more.


  • Transaction confirmation

How will your client know when a payment is completed successfully? Or even worse, whether there has been an issue with the billing?

The interesting thing about WhatsApp for ecommerce, when compared to an email, for example, is that you can send crucial information immediately, without worrying that your message might end up in a spam folder.


  • Customer service and support

Yes, we’re all looking to make a sale. That is a universal truth.

But we also want that client to come back tomorrow. So how do we do that? We provide support and excellent service.

For example, an ecommerce store can use WhatsApp to check in after a purchase.

Ecommerce por WhatsApp

But let’s be honest. Can WhatsApp solve all your problems?

Daniel from Vitricristales, the Colombian online story that sells trophies, medals, and awards, explained that implementing WhatsApp was VERY complicated.

First, there were about 150 WhatsApp messages a day. To respond to them, his team only had one mobile app and the web version. That’s it.

The three or four agents were tripping over one another all day, bickering over who should respond to which client.

On top of that, remember that before we said that WhatsApp isn’t the only channel where they receive messages. It may be the main one, but there’s also Messenger, email, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc…

And according to Accenture, 89% of clients feel frustrated when they have t repeat their issue over and over again to different representatives.

So what’s the solution?

Imagine for a moment that you could centralize all the incoming messages your business receives in one place. Let’s go a step further and say that in this one place you don’t just see prospects, but also who is serving them, enabling you to easily see how many messages are pending, your response times, and so much more…

For example, if instead of 5 phone lines for each of your salespeople, you could have ONE line where you could see all their conversations. Wouldn’t that be great?

Well, there’s no need to imagine. It’s real.


The evolution of WhatsApp

At Zenvia Conversion, we developed an ideal application for ecommerce or businesses who want  to take their first steps toward an online store, because it allows you to digitize all your teams and sell or provide customer service through WhatsApp Business.

With an integration with the Official API, you can add notes that just your employees can see, set up reminders, schedule calls, and set intelligent rules for assigning agents.

Plus, we have pre-approved WhatsApp templates, allowing you to automate a large part of the process. But we’d like to go into a little more detail…

At the beginning of April, we launched the first shared WhatsApp inbox, a feature that allows you to share all your agents’ portfolios (clients) and generate record response times.

How often have you had a sales agent who needs to check something with someone in billing? How often does a client enter into the sales flow at the end of the day and is forced to wait until the following day?

The worst is that we all know that someone who’s waiting for a response will likely end up going to the competition…

During a shift change, for example, an agent can pick up conversations where the other left off using a shared inbox. And if it’s a shared sale, more people can work together from a distance to close it.

That’s why a shared WhatsApp inbox brings together the tool most used by consumers and an unbeatable tool for sales and support departments.

These days, the level of service you provide is what makes the difference. WhatsApp allows us to provide instant solutions, and with an attentive team you increase the probability of providing a better customer experience for your users.

Escrito por

Nahuel Gomez