WhatsApp is one of the most widely used networking apps, used across age groups to stay connected with people. This app not only allows people across geographies to stay connected but also helps manage ‘Quick Response’ to most queries. And during lockdown, it became more popular in getting required necessities home delivered.
“At Metro Shoes we used WhatsApp Shopping Service to support our ‘home visits’. Customers who were keen to buy footwear but were hesitant to come to the store, used ‘Try and Buy’ from the comfort of their homes. Customers were able to choose the footwear, via a virtual tour of the store over WhatsApp. Shortlisted products were then taken to the customers home for trials and purchase. The bill is also shared via WhatsApp. Additionally, our store staff shares catalogues and pictures of new additions over WhatsApp with our regular customers. Customers, too, have easily adapted to this new shopping service as it is hassle free and offers a personalized shopping experience,” says Alisha Malik, VP, E-commerce and Marketing, Metro Brands Ltd.
“While we scaled up our website Bata.in, and expanded our presence across market places like Myntra, Ajio, Amazon and Flipkart, we also realised that there was a segment of our customers that wanted to shop remotely, wanted the familiarity of their neighbourhood Bata store manager, was comfortable using simple messaging apps like WhatsApp and wasn’t as tech-savvy using online sites. To cater to this segment, we launched Bata ChatShop, a WhatsApp based platform which allows customers to remotely interact and shop from their neighbourhood stores by interacting with store managers. They are sent an extensive e-catalogue and they can pick and choose their favourite styles, which are then delivered right at their doorstep, within couple of hours on same day,” adds Anand Narang, VP - Marketing, Bata India resonating the same thoughts.
Similarly, fashion brand Forever New is also planning to launch their WhatsApp commerce this month.
Even, Bikayi, a one-stop WhatsApp integrated e-commerce platform, is looking forward to empower merchants in India to run a sustainable business online.
Foreign Players Too Joined The Wagon
UAE based e-commerce company YourLibaas introduced AI-based chatbots for WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to facilitate the ordering process as the major pain point turned out to be ‘inability to order online’. The company claims a 30 percent increase in purchase conversion rate post introduction of ‘Order of WhatsApp’ functionality.
"Our primary audience is non-working women who frequently complained about the checkout process. Our goal was to increase sales from alternative channels following principles of conversational commerce," states Khalid Raza Khan, Founder & CEO, YourLibaas.
“With an increasing shift towards mobile devices, the company decided to choose WhatsApp over other channels. Users found it convenient to get in touch about product queries through WhatsApp and phone. They would send screenshots of products enquiring about the fabric details, price, delivery timelines and so on. Adding the missing human touch typical of a brick-and-mortar store is a trust-building measure,” Akram Tariq Khan, Co-Founder, YourLibaas further adds.
Adding Value To The Brand
With the launch and scaling up of three new hyper-local digital channels - Bata ChatShop, Bata Store-on-Wheels and Bata Home Delivery, Bata has been successful in reaching out to a wider audience.
“Our customers have been very receptive of these initiatives, and these have been instrumental in reviving our overall sales. The overall digitally enabled sales including bata.in, marketplaces have moved from about 6 percent to now 15 percent,” says Narang.
“More than the overall brands income, this strategy has contributed towards helping us enhance our service levels. It helps us stay more connected with our customers and serve our customers in a very prompt manner,” adds Malik.
YourLibaas claims that the introduction of conversational commerce features resulted in 2,940 orders summing up a total revenue of Rs. 1.65 crore through the WhatsApp channel over a period of 90 days. Out of a total of 58.8K users that visited the website through WhatsApp broadcast messages during the same period, a significant proportion actually placed orders. The brand received an average of 260 requests per day for product information and WhatsApp sales increased by 70 percent.
Trend Picks Up In Smaller Cities Too
Sonakshi Nathani, Co-Founder & CEO, Bikayi, says, “The pandemic has pushed the majority of local merchants and retailers to look at digital businesses. The trend has caught on more in smaller cities where transactions happen over WhatsApp. It is exciting to see how both merchants and consumers are choosing the platform, which is convenient and a part of our daily lives, to run a sustainable business and shop online respectively. In just the last 4 months, we have witnessed 53 percent sales from small-town India and believe that this number is only going to increase in the coming months.”
The brand witnessed 45 percent of the sales during 10 am-12 noon. Men shopped 3.4 times more than females during the pandemic (77.6 percent male as compared to 22.39 percent female). The age-group that was most active was 25-34 which contributed 30.68 percent to the overall sales.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
There aren’t any drawbacks as such, but nothing ever compares to the entire experience of touch-and-feel shopping.
“Sometimes it gets slightly tricky to figure out your exact shoe-size while shopping through virtual mediums. However, to overcome this problem, we have launched a service called ‘Bata Shoe Size Finder’ for Bata ChatShop and bata.in customers. The service enables customers to find their exact shoe size by simply clicking and scanning a picture of their feet. It has helped us improve conversions,” reveals Narang.
“It’s difficult to share the entire range over WhatsApp and WhatsApp shopping is not a standalone channel for sales, it is and will always be an extension of our current stores. Not all customers prefer receiving messages over WhatsApp, as many see this as an encroachment into their personal space,” adds Malik.
How Bright Is The Future?
With what is going on around us, the consumer behaviour and preferences have changed. They have now become more adept and used to shopping through digital mediums, and this trend will likely continue post-pandemic as well. Hence, Bata is planning to make Bata ChatShops a permanent feature.
Bata has launched another innovative solution called ‘Find a Pair’ for the store staff. In case a pair of shoes that the customer wants is not available in one store, it can be sourced from another store nearby with the help of the app, and is then shipped directly to the customer’s house.
“Initiatives like ‘Bata Shoe Size Finder’ and ‘Find a Pair’ have helped with conversions as well,” Narang states.
“We plan on continuing using WhatsApp as we do see a potential in this channel. In fact in addition to shopping, we plan to use this channel to offer many other services to the customers,” Malik concludes.