The state of eCommerce
Before we talk about WhatsApp and Shopify, we must first begin with the state of online commerce, or eCommerce, today. Here’s a fun analogy to give us a sense of scale. Did you know that:
One million seconds is about 11 days.
One billion seconds is 32 years.
One trillion seconds is about 32,000 years.
Similarly, one trillion dollars laid end-to-end would stretch from the surface of the Earth all the way to the Sun, and you'd still have 3 million miles' worth of dollars left in your pocket!
With that in mind, let's talk commerce. Shopify is one of the largest eCommerce platforms on the planet, having a firm grip on 20% of the global market. In 2021, Shopify made 4.6 Billion dollars; a 300% increase from their revenue in 2019. This doesn't include the income of more than 2 million Shopify stores that are on the platform today; that number is an astounding $175 Billion!
On a larger scale, the global eCommerce market is expected to generate $5.7 Trillion in 2022, and that number will double in less than 10 years. Markets like the United States, Latin America, the Middle East, China, and India are growing at a high rate, increasing by 20-50% year over year.
Today, 20% of all retail sales happen online, and this number continues to grow. Consumers are more confident in purchasing goods online, and the buying experience, thanks to technologies like Shopify, is much better than it’s ever been.
With this rise in eCommerce comes a shift in consumer behavior. More and more, consumers demand business presence over social messaging channels like WhatsApp, Instagram, and others. They expect personalized, human experiences. Reports by Aberdeen Group, PwC, and Dimension Data indicate that this has been a rising trend for the past few years, and one that will not be slowing down.
How and where does WhatsApp fit?
WhatsApp is the most popular social messaging app on the planet. There are over 2 billion active users on the app, and more than 100 Billion messages are exchanged through WhatsApp every day.
Imagine if you owned an online store 10 years ago, but didn’t have an email address for buyers to reach you, or if you had a brick and mortar shop without a door. That’s the case with WhatsApp today — in some regions, if you don’t exist on WhatsApp as a business, you don’t exist at all, and that circle is growing.
To meet this demand, tens of thousands of businesses now operate on WhatsApp, with Meta projecting hundreds of thousands more every year. In Latin America (particularly Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia, where over 94-96% of their populations use WhatsApp as their main messaging channel), India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, WhatsApp has been a primary means of conducting business for a decade, if not more.
The same trend is growing in regions such as the UK, Germany, and other parts of Europe. In North America, too — about 30% of people in the United States use WhatsApp, although its use for business isn’t as mature as in other parts of the world.
Why is WhatsApp better than email and live chat?
Once upon a time, email was the only way to talk to an online business. Then, live chat joined the scene. Both are still popular options today, but are by far the least effective methods of communicating with a customer.
The reason is simple — people live on their apps. They live on WhatsApp. Every single day, I (and 2 billion others) send and receive WhatsApp messages. People don’t live within their email inboxes, at least not for their personal affairs. They don’t live on your website or Shopify store, either, and definitely not on your live chat widget. As a result, emails get ignored, and chats turn stale. Average open rates for email across the world are about 20%. For WhatsApp, that number is 98%. The personal nature of WhatsApp means that you can build deeper, more meaningful long term relationships with your customers. There’s no clear research on the improvement in conversion rates with WhatsApp, but some sources say that it’s about 50%. For contrast, email (and even SMS, which shares a similar open rate to WhatsApp) has a conversion rate of 2-5%.
If you’re already using WhatsApp to speak with your customers, you understand its importance. If you don’t use WhatsApp as a business; well, why not? Perhaps WhatsApp isn’t popular in your region of the world, and you don’t think it’s worthwhile. I’m here to challenge that notion. WhatsApp isn’t going anywhere, and using it for business is a growing, global trend. Have you considered that it might offer your store a competitive advantage?
How do I use WhatsApp with my Shopify store?
WhatsApp comes in various flavors, and can be used for simple workflows as well as complex ones. You can begin with the simplest, which take no more than 5 minutes to set up, and work your way to more complex features as you grow, and as your needs change.
Here are a few examples of what you can do with WhatsApp:
1. Add a WhatsApp chat widget to your Shopify store
Time required: 5-10 minutes
Your first order of business would be to let your customers, and your audience, know that you offer WhatsApp as an option for them to speak with you or your team. For a step by step guide on how to do this, please refer to “How to add the WhatsApp chat widget to your Shopify store”
2. Send automated WhatsApp messages when someone takes action on an order
Time required: 30 minutes - 1 hour
Similar to the common email confirmation messages your customers receive when they abandon a cart, or after they place an order, you can send automated WhatsApp messages notifying customers of their order status, shipping information, and more. All you need is the customer’s phone number, and their permission to be contacted by WhatsApp.
3. Send bulk WhatsApp messages announcing a promotion or a sale
Time required: 15 minutes - a few hours
Used correctly, WhatsApp can be a powerful marketing tool. You can run WhatsApp campaigns in the same way that you do email; with the added benefit of WhatsApp being a much more effective channel. Check out How to Send Bulk WhatsApp messages for a full overview, and a step-by-step guide on how to run a WhatsApp marketing campaign.
4. Create a chat-bot that guides your customers through your store via WhatsApp, and helps with their most common questions
Time required: Anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with WhatsApp as a way of communicating with your customers, you may choose to offer them an option to interact with a chat-bot over WhatsApp. This might save you time in answering common questions, and as your store grows, it’ll help you manage the increase in customer queries and conversations.
Some of the examples above might require the use of WhatsApp Business Platform/API. You can learn more about that in this blog post: What is the WhatsApp Business API.
I’m a little lost. Where do I begin?
If you’ve made up your mind about using WhatsApp, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to use the WhatsApp Business mobile app, or the WhatsApp Business Platform/API. The WhatsApp Business app is most suitable for micro-businesses that don’t need automations, and find that the mobile app is enough for their needs.
The WhatsApp Business Platform/API is for small, medium, or large teams that wish to collaborate over WhatsApp as a team, set up automations, connect it to their Shopify store, CRM, and more. This requires the use of third party tools like Rasayel, since there is no official app from WhatsApp.
If you’re curious to learn more, there are two ways to begin:
This way, you’ll set everything up yourself, using various guides. The following is what I recommend:
First, read What is the WhatsApp Business Platform/API. This is an introduction to the WhatsApp Business Platform/API; the flavor of WhatsApp that allows you to run automations, connect WhatsApp to your Shopify store, and more.
Second, read How to sell products on WhatsApp. This will help you decide whether the WhatsApp Business app or the WhatsApp Business Platform/API fits you best.
Optional - Read How do 5 brands use WhatsApp for selling for some examples on how companies like Hellman’s Mayonnaise and Estée Lauder use WhatsApp to provide their customers with exceptional experiences.
Finally, our Help Center docs.rasayel.io offers quick start guides and other information on how to set up WhatsApp Business Platform/API and Rasayel.
When you’re ready or if you need additional help, you can reach out to us on WhatsApp at +13024070488, or book a free call with one of our WhatsApp experts:
Europe, Middle East, and Africa
North and South America
Free expert guidance
At Rasayel, we happen to be WhatsApp experts. We offer you a free consultation to walk through your needs, answer your questions, and help you decide if WhatsApp is the right fit for you, and if it is, to guide you through setting everything up for your business.
WhatsApp and Shopify are, to our eyes, a perfect match. Both are fast growing platforms, and both changed the way we do things online — WhatsApp for communication, and Shopify for commerce. There is a lot of potential in what you, as a business and an online store, can do with WhatsApp, beyond what I’ve mentioned in this article. Whether you use it for sales, support, or for marketing, WhatsApp is a primary business channel that neither you, nor your customers, can ignore.
For weekly articles and insights on the world of WhatsApp, visit the Rasayel blog: www.rasayel.io/blog
Global Ecommerce Sales Growth Report for 2021-2026 (Shopify)
Global Ecommerce Explained: Stats and Trends to Watch in 2022 (Shopify Plus)
Shopify Statistics 2022: Facts, Market Share & More (Acquire Convert)
The Size of Shopify’s Market Share (ToolTester)
How Many WhatsApp Users Are There? (Rasayel)
What is the WhatsApp Business API (Rasayel)