WhatsApp is a game changer for India’s small businesses – from smart wallet makers to trash pickers

  • WhatsApp business was launched in 2018 and since then has over 5 million users on the platform.
  • According to data shared by WhatsApp India to Business Insider, 78% SMBs on WhatsApp have also registered sales growth.
  • Meanwhile, 80% of SMBs on WhatsApp in India believe the platform allows them to sell products or services in other cities, states or countries.
WhatsApp may be embroiled in multiple controversies in India today, but the company’s focus on the country’s small and medium businesses remains undeterred – with WhatsApp Business.

WhatsApp business was launched in 2018 and since then has over 5 million users on the platform.

During a recent chat at the TiE Global Business Summit, WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose also spoke about the platform’s focus on India’s small businesses.

“We have actually tried to invest and support a lot of the ecosystem here in India. We work with NITI Aayog in one of their programmes, we also ran a challenge – WhatsApp startup challenge where we gave the first cheque to some of the small businesses. This country will grow when the small business ecosystem grows,” he had said during a panel discussion at the summit.

Conversions and sales, thanks to WhatsApp

The Kabadiwala – a startup which literally does what the name says, picks up waste from houses, was faced with the conundrum – how does it reach out to the millions of homes that are dealing with waste.

The startup turned to WhatsApp business. "A lot of people use WhatsApp and find it very easy to communicate, so we thought we'd make the booking process easy and allowed our users to send a message to our WhatsApp Business account for the pickup request,” said Anurag Asati, founder, The Kabadiwala.

About 60 percent of their pickup requests today come via WhatsApp. He also said that they have seen a 40 percent increase in their sales after using the WhatsApp Business app.

According to data shared by WhatsApp India to Business Insider, 70% of SMBs on WhatsApp in India say they built their business on the platform, while 77% of SMBs businesses on WhatsApp in India have been able to hire more employees as they grew after joining the platform. The data is sourced from Morning Consult Intelligence.

India has over 400 million WhatsApp users, which makes it really easy for businesses to reach out to a large customer base.

Cuir Ally, a luxury leather goods brand which claims to have built India’s first anti-theft technology-enabled smart wallets and tech-powered safety clutches for women, too used WhatsApp business for growth.

“WhatsApp has been a big game-changer for us,” said its co-founder T.S Sathyaraj.

After adding a WhatsApp widget on their website, their conversions increased by 10% after they made the switch from traditional live chat software. Sathyaraj added that 30 percent of orders come in through a link on their website that connects customers directly to WhatsApp.

Creating entrepreneurs and scaling them up

The use of WhatsApp business also enabled individuals to turn into entrepreneurs. Today, WhatsApp is enabling SMEs across sectors like retail, food and beverages, crafts, technology, education, delivery services, baby products, agriculture, and apparel.

Established businesses and startups alike are using WhatsApp as an effective mode of communication to reach out to their consumers.

Moreover, 78% SMBs on WhatsApp also registered sales growth, while 80% of SMBs on WhatsApp in India believe the platform allows them to sell products or services in other cities, states or countries.

No Broker is real estate platform connects owners and tenants directly. It has created a channel on WhatsApp where people can list their property.

“So for us the questions were - how would we reach out to the owner? How do we reach out to the tenant? The owners being somewhere between 45-50 plus who own the house, how do we communicate with them? So that's where WhatsApp plays a critical role because the one thing before, WhatsApp Business API – which was missing in India was a channel where two way communication can happen other than voice,” said Akhil Gupta, founder of No Broker at the TiE summit panel, about how they use WhatsApp.
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