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Sell more, save more, engage more: How retail and e-commerce companies use messaging successfully

E-Commerce messaging
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How can e-commerce and retail companies grow their business by using messaging? In the following, we'll take a look at how different e-comerce and retail brands use messaging along the customer journey to grow their business. 

WhatsApp, the Messenger from Meta, and Apple Messages for Business are excellent channels for customer communication. Most businesses are very aware of that. But using messaging as a marketing or sales tool, or to improve customer loyaly and reduce churn? Absolutely! In fact, conversational commerce, the dialogue-based sales strategy on messaging channels, offers many opportunities for e-commerce and retail companies along the customer journey.

That's also the experience of "TRACTA Mode Outlet" a family-run fashion company. They run brick-and-mortar stores, but also talk to their customers on WhatsApp, which has brought them closer to their customers. The messaging app allows them to combine the personal in-store experience with modern e-commerce, says Bastian Fischer, Head of Marketing at TRACTA.

Quote by Bastian Fischer TRACTA Mode Outlet about WhatsApp in retail.

How can you make messaging apps work for your retail or e-commerce business? What opportunities do messaging apps offer? What are other brands doing? We answer all the questions around messaging, e-commerce, and retail.

Why retail and e-commerce companies should use messaging

Regardless whether your store is online, offline, or somewhere in-between: reaching your customers is key for any successful retail or e-commerce business. Nowadays, the best way to interact with your customers is not by phone, not by e-mail, and not even on social media sites; it's on messaging apps.

And that's simply because users love to chat on messaging apps! Messenger services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger from Meta have become the preferred communication channels for users around the world. Over two billion users in the world use WhatsApp, almost a billion interact via Faceook Messenger, and China's WeChat counts 1.3 billion users. In other words, messaging has become the favorite way of communication for many people around the world.

WhatsApp is installed on more than 99 percent of Brazilian smartphones. In the UK, 72 percent of users chat regularly on Facebook Messenger, and Indians handle almost anything on WhatsApp, from talking to their family, to calling a ride to shopping.

It's therefore quite simple: if you want to reach your customers, messaging is the way to go! And messaging apps have another advantage, especially in retail and e-commerce: you'll be able to interact with your customers along the entire customer journey.

graphic customer journey

Aside from improving the interaction with your clients, streamlining the whole customer communication into one single channel has several advantages.

1. You can sell without needing to set up an app

Users are tired of having to install a different app for every single store where they shop. At the same time, designing a user-friendly app requires time and resources. Why not make everybody's life easier (and save some money in the process!) by moving the conversation to the communication apps people already have on their phones?

With messaging apps constantly expanding their business tools, this is becoming more interesting for businesses as well. WhatsApp, for example, just introduced a Business Directory where users can search for businesses, and then contact them directly. Interacting with brands and buying from them in the same channel has never been easier!

2. Increase your conversions

The rate of abandoned shopping carts is around 70 percent. One of the main reasons is a complicated user experience. It's also a fact that every time you ask users to switch from one channel to another, you lose out on business. Messaging apps solve these problems for you!

Especially with more messaging services rolling out in-chat payments (Instagram Direct, Viber, and WhatsApp just launched in-app payment options this year), this will become even easier. Providing the entire customer journey on one channel will increase your conversions, says Matt Ramerman, President Sinch for Marketing.

Quote from Matt Ramerman from Sinch about Customer Journey

Already, businesses are noticing better conversion rates on messaging apps. Customers that receive a consultation on WhatsApp are three times more likely to complete a purchase than customers on apps or other channels.

3. Speed

Communication via messaging apps is faster than hotlines or e-mails. With WhatsApp, for instance, you can answer customer queries three times as fast.

Quote Christian Sroka Heimathafen Hotels about efficiency in messaging.

4. Easier automation

It's very easy to integrate chatbots in your messaging solution, which can reduce your effort by 80%!

Citation from Alber Rösch from BMW about customer inquiries

5. Better service, less resources

In retail and e-commerce, messaging apps help reduce the number (and costs!) of returns! Instead of starting a return, it's very easy for customers to check in with your compay via messaging app if they have an issue with an item, and ask questions. The service team can then decide much faster if it's necessary to initate a return.

Even small e-commerce and retail companies can save up to 200,000 US dollars per year.

6. Cross-selling and up-selling

When you interact with customers on messaging app, you're in the same environment as their friends and family. This makes the conversations more personal and intimate. As a result, you can build trust and loyalty, and increase the chances that customers will be interested in other offers (now, but also in the future).

📲 Leverage the power of messaging apps in your retail and e-commerce business with Sinch Engage, our professional platform for WhatsApp and other messenger apps.

Try Sinch Engage for free!

Use cases of messaging in e-commerce and retail along the customer journey

The following examples of different e-commerce and retail brands show how you can use messaging successfully throughout the entire customer journey.

1. Marketing

SportSpar uses Telegram notifications to increase sales 

The sports brand SportSpar offers high-end sports outfits at a discount. Naturally, SportSpar's price-conscious customers always want to know about the latest deals as soon as they come out. In order to keep their customers up to date, SportSpar sends out Telegram updates to interested subscribers. As soon as a new deal is out, subscribers get an automated push notification.

This very simple strategy has a big effect on SporSpar's revenue. The Telegram messages have click rates of about 20% (compared to your typical 4% in e-mail notificatios, this is huge!), and they can generate up to 2,000 US dollars in revenue per week.

2. Consultation

MissPompadour converts nine out of ten chats into a purchase

The paint online retailer, MissPompadour, has a digital-first customer base. Accordingly, MissPompadour sticks to digital channels, such as Instagram or WhatsApp for their customer communication. At the same time, the company wants to ensure a thorough consultation for their customers.

And that happens for MissPompadour on WhatsApp!

conversational commerce
MissPompadour offers personalized service on WhatsApp.

MissPompadour's clients love this personalized approach, and it shows in their conversions!

Quote by Erik Reintjes MissPompadour

3. Ordering

Kikuu makes ordering products easier with WhatsApp

Kikuu is an online shopping mall with a presence in almost 20 countries around Africa. For their mobile-first customers, Kikuu introduced an easier way to shop: via WhatsApp.

Users can simply click on an in-app link to check out and order products, or they can just type certain letters or numbers into the chat to receive more information. This has led to a 59.6% increase in sales conversions!

WhatsApp newsleter KiKUUU
KiKUU makes ordering easier with WhatsApp. (Source: Meta)

4. Payment

JioMart India lets customers order and pay on WhatsApp

In the first global roll-out of WhatsApp Pay, India's online marketplace JioMart shows the potential of unifying the entire custome journey on one channel.

Customers can browse the JioMart store, put products in their shopping carts, and then pay directly without ever having to leave WhatsApp.

WhatsApp Pay, JioMart
WhatsApp's first complete in-app shopping experience. (Source: WhatsApp)

Similar experiences have rolled out this year on Instagram Direct and Viber. And Apple Pay has shown for years how successful an in-chat mobile payment system can be. David Kurzmann, CEO and co-founder of the online retail company Women's Best, expects a massive boost from Apple Pay for his business.

Quote David Kurzmann Womens Best Apple Pay

5. Delivery

How online store Erwin Müllers handles 10,000 delivery status requests on WhatsApp

Erwin Müller started out as a traditional mail-order business about 70 years ago. Since then, the company has become an award-winning online retailer. And messaging has played a major part in that development for the e-commerce business.

Initially, Erwin Müller introduced WhatsApp to appeal to a younger target audience. Now, customers of all ages use WhatsApp, mainly to check on their deliery status.

With an automated delivery status notification, Erwin Müller is able to keep up with 10,000 delivery status requests per month — an amount that would typically overwhelm the service team can now be easily managed. With messaging, the e-comerce company can now help customers faster and save resources.

Quote Christian Wirth Erwin Müller WhatsApp saves time

6. Customer service and returns

Sephora handles 100% of customer queries on Instagram Direct

Sephora is a modern beauty brand that many customers first discover online. In fact, Instagram is one of the most popular initial touch points for customers with the brand. As a result, many customers started sending Sephora questions on Instagram Direct.

Initially, Sephora's service team was not equipped to handle such a high number of queries on Instagram Direct. However, order to meet the customers on their preferred channel, Sephora decided to set up a customer service messaging solution via Instagram Direct.

Sephora Instagram Direct
Sephora scales customer service on Instagram Direct. (Source: Meta)

With the messaging solution, Sephora was able to serve 100 percent of Instagram clients directly on Instagram Direct. Some brands are going even one step further, and using messaging to decrease their returns.

Every retailer and e-commerce businesses knows that returns are a constant pain point. They can't be completely avoided, and they eat your margins. Messaging apps can actually help reduce the number of returns.

Hessnatur reduces number of returns

Hessnatur, a company that specializes in natural textiles, has been able to put this into practice very successfully. Their customers can simply contact them on WhatsApp if they have an issue with a textile. The customer team can then decide very quickly if it's worth initiating a return process, thus saving the company time and money.

Quote Harald Goßler economic advantage of WhatsApp

7. Building loyalty

H&M increases customer satisfaction by 9.5 points with Instagram Direct

Messaging in e-commerce and retail is not successful because it's a trendy approach. It works because customers want messaging solutions, and love it when businesses offer them. The result is typically a better relationship with the customer.

The fashion brand H&M, for instance, used messaging to personalize their customer communication in the UK, and build stronger connections with their customers. H&M used a professional messaging solution to categorize messages on Instagram Direct, one of their customers' favorite contact channels.

H&M customer service Instagram Direct Messenger API
H&M leverages Instagram Direct. (Source: Meta)

With this approach, H&M was ale to improve customer satisfaction by 9.5 points and net sentiment score by 8.7 points.

💡 Check out 10 Examples of Successful Brands on Instagram Direct

8. Up-sell

AlphaPet Ventures turns customer queries into sales 

As an e-commerce company for premium pet food, AlphaPet Ventures focuses on a personalized exchange with their customers. After all, pet owners want a personable experience and a thorough consultation when it comes to buying food for their pets.

WhatsApp is a perfect channel for these more personal conversations, says Leonie Steiner, Customer Care Lead at AlphaPet Ventures. And it also leads to more up-sell possibilities.

At AlphaPet, a customer query often leads to an engaging exchange, questions about products, and ultimately, also a purchase. No other communication channel offers this personalized degree of conversational commerce!

9. Recommendations

TechStyle Fashion Group increases customer satisfaction with Facebook Messenger

A personalized customer communication pays off! One of the benefits: after a positive personal exchange, customers are more likely to recommend your brand to others. For retailers and e-commerce businesses, this can have a huge impact on the purchase decision of other potential customers.

For TechStyle Fashion Group this was a noticeable effect of improving their customer experience on Facebook Messenger. The e-commerce fashion brand used a chatbot to improve the quality and speed of answers to the "where is my order" requests.

As a result, TechStyle Fashion not only helped customers faster, they also reached a 95 percent customer satisfaction rate — an ideal starting point for customers recommending their service.

techstyle fashion group, Facebook recommendations
Improving their messaging service improved customer satisfaction for Tech Style Fasion Group. (Source: Facebook)

10. Reviews

Sportstech uses a WhatsApp chatbot to get more positive reviews

Getting positive reviews on Amazon, Google, Yelp, and other platforms is the holy grail for e-commerce companies and retailers alike.

But, did you know, that you can use messaging apps to encourage your customers to leave you a positive review? Sportstech, an online company that specializes in fitness equipment for home usage works with a WhatsApp chatbot to achieve exactly that.

The review chatbot ensures that more happy customers leave (most likely positive ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐) reviews.

  • In a first step, the chatbot asks the customer if they've had a positive experience.
  • If the customer leaves a score between one and three stars, the bot can offer support.
  • If the customer leaves a top score of four or five star, the bot asks for a review.
Sportstech loyality
Sportstech gets better reviews with a WhatsApp bot.

11. Retention

Dr. SAM reduces churn rate by 50% with WhatsApp

In times where the internet makes it so easy for customers to switch brands, it's a challenge to build customer loyalty, keep retention high, and reduce the churn rate.

This is another point in the customer journey where messaging is more successful than other channels.

When Dr. SAM, an online pet service company, set up WhatsApp as a customer communication channel, they almost immediately noticed the positive effects on their retention rate.

Whithin their test group, Dr. SAM was able to reduce the churn rate by 50%, only 100 days after launching WhatsApp.

What role do chatbots play in e-commerce and retail? 

No matter if on the phone, online, or in the store: customers often ask the exact same questions. What are your business hours? Do you have these shoews in my size? What are your current deals? If your team has to answer these questions over and over again, it doesn't only take a lot of time, it's also frustrating. 

That's exactly where an FAQ chatbot can really help out your agents, and still answer customer questions (and even 24/7!). 

Best Practice: Orion Mall attracts more visitors to their stores with a WhatsApp bot

Orion Mall is one of Bangalore's largest shopping centers. The stores heavily depend on foot traffic for their business. So, how can you let people know about the store's offers, and get them to make the trip out to the mall? By using WhatsApp!

Interested customers can sign up for Orion Mall's WhatsApp broadcast, and stay up to date with events at the mall, and receive information about special offers as well. A chatbot named "Genie" is there to guide users, and answer their questions around the retailers' offers. This has been very successful, says Rahul Malhotra, Head of Marketing at the Brigade Group behind Orion Mall.

Citation from Rahul Malhotra from Brigade Group (Orion Malls) about WhatsApp Chatbot

Best Practice: Intermarché inspires shoppers with an AI chatbot

The French supermarket chain Intermarché is facing a problem that many grocery stores are familiar with: get customers excited about new products. As a lot of shoppers just want to get in and out of stores to check of their grocery lists, few have the time and leisure to check out new offers. 

In order to change that, Intermarché introduced an AI-based chatbot that sends out regular messaging newsletters. Shoppers can subscribe to the feed, and receive creative recipe ideas. The advantage: they read the newsletter at home in a relaxed atmosphere, and then it becomes a lot easier to get inspired and add a new ingredient to the shopping list. 

The bot is a huge success! Intermarché reaches engagement rates of 59%

How to integrate messaging apps in your e-commerce and retail business

1. Use professional messaging solutions

Messaging apps like WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, and Telegram offer many opportunities to grow your business and make your customers happier. At the same time, if you want to get the most out of messaging for your e-commerce and retail business, we recommend using a professional messaging solution like Sinch Engage.

Only professional solutions guarantee:

  • 🔐... 100% data protection
  • 🤖... scalable options (like chatbots)
  • 💪... a set-up that doesn't require IT skills

Sinch Engage, for instance, connects you to the business platforms of WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Apple Messages for Business, and many more. With the ready-to-go software solution you can get started right away, no complicated IT infrastructure needed.

Quote from Michael Elschenbroich from stylink about professional Messaging

2. Integrate the service at all touchpoints

Once you have set up your messaging communication channels, let your customers know that they can reach you there.

  • Use flyers, QR codes, business cards, and social media channels to promote your messaging channel.
WhatsApp chatbot mall, Orion Mall
Orion Mall uses QR codes and social media to start conversations. (Source: Facebook / Orion Mall)
  • Include widgets on your website that make it easy for your customers to chat with you.
WhatsApp widget website, Altitude Adventure Holidays
With a professional messaging solution, you can easily integrate WhatsApp widgets on your website. (Source: Altitude Adventure Holidays)
  • Use social ads to guide users to your messaging channels

There are certain messaging apps that you can promote easily with ads on social media. For instance, you can promote your WhatsApp channel with a Facebook or Instagram ad. If users click on the click-to-chat ad, they end up directly in your WhatsApp chat.

Click to WhatsApp Ads
A click-to WhatsApp ad on Facebook. (Source: Meta)

3. Implement your shop system into your messaging channel

With professional messaging solutions, it's easy to integrate online shop systems, such as Shopware or Shopify into your messaging channels. Sinch Engage, for example, gives you several options to integrate check-out, product consultations directly into the shop system.

The more you integrate messaging in the entire shopping experience, the more beneficial it'll be for your business. And a professional solution like Sinch Engage makes this really easy!

🔥 Get started now: Use Sinch Engage for your retail or e-commerce business.

Try for free

Image of Marinela Potor, editor-in-chief at Sinch Engage.
Written by: Marinela Potor