How WhatsApp India is helping businesses of all sizes build a digital identity

WhatsApp India is continuously building newer features on its platform to enable businesses to remain at the forefront through digital communication.

How WhatsApp India is helping businesses of all sizes build a digital identity

Monday September 18, 2023,

7 min Read

With about 400 million users, Meta-owned WhatsApp counts India among its largest markets. Apart from connecting users to each other, WhatsApp, through its services for companies of all sizes, also enables large enterprises, SMBs, and solo entrepreneurs to build and sustain their businesses.

Launched in January 2018, the WhatsApp Business app has about 50 million users globally and more than 15 million in India.

Ravi Garg, Director, Business Messaging, India - Meta, tells EnterpriseStory about the messaging platform’s solutions for businesses and their impact.

Edited excerpts.

YourStory (YS): How is the pace of digital adoption across businesses in India from WhatsApp Business messaging perspective?

Ravi Garg (RG): Small businesses in India have led the way in adopting digital tools to take their businesses online successfully. A Meta commissioned survey by IPSOS Public Affairs done in 2022 showed that 91% of surveyed small and medium enterprises currently using digital tools in India reported that messaging apps and tools are a very important way to connect with customers and more than half said that WhatsApp has helped their business increase access to new customers.

Our WhatsApp Business app, which is a free-to-use app used by millions of small businesses in India, was built keeping the Indian trader in mind, and there are more than 200 million users of the WhatsApp Business app across the world.

Meta India Ravi Garg

With WhatsApp becoming a natural way for people to interact with one another, it’s emerging as a preferred medium for people to connect with businesses as well. We are entering a new era in customer experience powered by messaging, and we’re excited about the technology and products we’re building at WhatsApp that help businesses grow in their digital journey as well.

WhatsApp is open for businesses of all sizes in India and messaging represents a big opportunity for businesses to drastically improve their customer service, commerce, and more. We know that many large corporations have distinct needs that require them to interact with customers at scale.

That’s where the WhatsApp Business platform, our enterprise API, can be beneficial, particularly for businesses such as banks, airlines, and ecommerce companies. Whether it’s buying groceries from JioMart or booking rides from Uber through messaging on WhatsApp, it is the best way to get things done in India.

YS: How would you put the key offerings of WhatsApp Business messaging in the Indian market?

RG: People want to connect with a business the same way they chat with their friends and family. They don’t want to call and wait on hold or send an email and not know whether it’s been read—they just want to send a message and get a quick, personalised response.

As per a Meta-commissioned Kantar online survey (2022), 70% of surveyed online adults in India prefer messaging over emails or calls.

We’ve been seeing this shift in how people and businesses communicate for some time now, and think there is a big opportunity with messaging to drastically improve customer service, commerce, and more.

The WhatsApp Business platform helps businesses build great messaging experiences in a high ROI channel for interactions like marketing, sales, and service. For example, IDFC FIRST Bank and WhatsApp have partnered to enable the bank’s customers to recharge FASTags using payments on WhatsApp right within the chat thread.

People can now purchase groceries from JioMart right through a chat. SBI General Insurance’s WhatsApp chatbot enables easy access to insurance products through WhatsApp.

With the evolving needs and expectations of both people and businesses, we’ve continued to expand the solutions we offer businesses. Since we launched our WhatsApp API, we’ve seen strong demand for larger businesses as they look to improve customer satisfaction and find easier ways to engage their customers.

The WhatsApp Business App is being used by millions of small businesses in the country and has been made keeping the Indian merchant in mind. With features such as Catalog and Quick Replies, the app makes it simpler for small businesses to keep track of order inquiries, easily manage requests from customers, and close sales.

We also offer the capability to ‘Create Ads that Click to WhatsApp’, which can be one of the most powerful ways to drive potential customers to message a business on WhatsApp and is a simpler way to get started with advertising. Through such innovations, our goal is to help a local kirana shop or women entrepreneurs in rural India build a digital storefront and serve customers at scale.

YS: As WhatsApp Business messaging caters to large enterprises as well as single-owner businesses, how do you fulfil such varied requirements?

RG: WhatsApp is open for businesses of all sizes in India, and our product offerings cater to the unique needs of each business. As I mentioned earlier, the WhatsApp Business platform helps large businesses build messaging experiences for their customers, drastically improving their customer service, commerce, and more.

On the other hand, the WhatsApp Business app was built for traders and small businesses.

For many small businesses, WhatsApp is their business—it’s their website, their digital storefront, their livelihood, and is a key enabler that's empowering their growth.

On the WhatsApp Business app, small businesses can create unique customer journeys, and we’re constantly working on innovating and improving our products and resources to help small businesses around the world grow with business messaging.

Irrespective of the size of the business and the solution they use, the principles and benefits of business messaging remain the same—offering businesses the scale and ease in reaching customers and offering customers experiences that are personalised, real-time, and fast.

YS: How is WhatsApp unlocking the messaging potential to enable businesses to grow?

RG: We believe SMBs are the backbone of an economy and helping them thrive can propel economic recovery and India’s goal of becoming a digital-first nation. Several small businesses and entrepreneurs have scaled up their ventures and expanded in new geographies by using WhatsApp Business app.

The scale and reach of WhatsApp Business have brought many inspiring and encouraging stories of courage and determination to the fore. Numerous case studies across industries are a testament to how the WhatsApp Business app has helped drive value for small businesses and provided them with a democratised gateway to discover new markets and serve their customers.

Today, WhatsApp is used in geographically disconnected regions and by the underserved communities in the country, which is a significant step in WhatsApp’s larger goal of facilitating access to essential and financial services for the last mile user.

YS: How does WhatsApp Business plan to strengthen the relationship with its customer base?

RG: We are taking continuous initiatives to build cognisance and let businesses explore the potential of WhatsApp Business messaging. In addition to launching innovative features—we also believe in constantly forging long-lasting relationships in the industry to empower homegrown entrepreneurs and local businesses to make their digital journey a success.

In July, Meta and the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) expanded the ‘WhatsApp Se Wyapaar’ programme to digitally train and upskill 10 million local traders on WhatsApp Business app. The partnership’s goal is to localise digitisation efforts to unleash growth opportunities for businesses with hyper-local digital training in 11 Indian languages across all 29 Indian states.

Over the years, the WhatsApp Business app has provided micro and small businesses and solopreneurs across India a democratised gateway to discover new markets and serve their customers, along with building a professional digital identity for their business.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti