WhatsApp shopping - threat or big throw?
Shopping just got easier, again. The world’s largest messaging app, WhatsApp is joining Facebook (its parent company), Instagram, and countless others in the world of social commerce. Over the next few months, WhatsApp will roll out several features that will allow businesses to showcase their products and let customers make purchases directly from their WhatsApp chat.
Although direct purchases are definitely a novelty for WhatsApp, the messaging giant is not entirely new to the world of business. For the past two years, WhatsApp has provided businesses with messaging services to keep in touch with customers. According to their accumulated data, over 175 million people messaged businesses via the app on a daily basis.
This is customer service on a whole new level. Customers, tired of being put on hold, waiting days for a reply to an E-Mail, or sending off text messages to who knows where, are happy to receive instant assistance from businesses. On the other hand, businesses benefit from quickly resolved issues, faster communication, and the glowing reviews from satisfied customers.
But, just like Facebook did when launching Facebook shops, WhatsApp is about to become a marketplace itself. Based on feedback from both businesses and customers, WhatsApp decided to expand its services and offer the option of direct purchases in the future. This step will help integrate the whole purchasing process and provide a smooth shopping experience for customers.
How does it work
Since customers already use WhatsApp to contact businesses, integrating direct purchases into the messaging app seems like the logical next step. In fact, consumers in China have already been successfully using a similar app called WeChat for shopping.
When the upgrade is ready, customers will be able to check out product catalogs via WhatsApp. Then, if they see something they’d like to purchase, they’ll be able to put it in their shopping cart and buy the desired product(s) directly from the business. This new option will be seamlessly integrated into the current WhatsApp customer service features, providing an easier shopping experience for businesses and customers alike.
While it’s unclear whether customers will be charged a fee when making a purchase, businesses will definitely have to pay WhatsApp for some of its business services. According to the company, this fee will contribute to WhatsApp’s main service, “providing and expanding free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling for more than two billion people.”
Social commerce is a booming industry. The market is expected to grow by 36% in the next year, and by 2024, reach a value of $84.2 billion in the US alone. Globally, the value of e-sales is supposed to surpass $735 billion by 2023.
Because it’s brand new, we can’t exactly predict the share WhatsApp shopping will carve out for itself of that market. However, based on the success of its sister company Instagram’s venture into social commerce, WhatsApp can look forward to increasing its worth. Its estimated future revenue could be anywhere between $5 and $15 billion USD.
Brand protection and WhatsApp shopping
While a lot is still unclear about WhatsApp shopping, it’s quite likely that similarly to many other marketplaces, it will present challenges regarding brand protection. In fact, the nature of this new marketplace (quite intimate: sales conducted in a chat window directly between vendor and customer) may even increase the usual risks of counterfeiting, grey markets, and copyright infringement.
Moreover, the business model itself may pose quite considerable challenges for your brand. Given the close, exclusive communication between vendor and customer during the entire purchase process, the vendor would de-facto act as a brand ambassador. In case of trusted vendors, this is great. In case of others, not so much.
The sale of brand products could lose its transparency and an increasing amount of counterfeit trades can occur in closed groups
These threats are real. According to a recent study, 1 in 5 products sold via E-Commerce marketplaces is fake. With the considerable intimacy and intransparency of a WhatsApp chat window, this number could get even worse. The legal framework for monitoring sales as well as protection against counterfeiting on this marketplace is not yet completely clear, which provides further opportunities for fraudsters.
How to protect your brand on WhatsApp shopping
Because of this closed nature of the new marketplace, it’s easy to see why tracking counterfeits or grey marketers could be even more difficult on WhatsApp shopping. Luckily, you don’t have to do it by yourself. globaleyez has several services that could come in very handy for protecting your brand on WhatsApp shopping.
Social media monitoring
globaleyez is already a leading expert in brand protection on social media. We monitor brand pages and marketplaces on Facebook, including even closed buying groups with direct-buy options. We also check Facebook and Instagram advertisements, which is a great tool for closely following seller activities, and discovering counterfeiters or grey market sellers.
We don’t stop at monitoring: when we detect a fraudulent listing or a copyright infringement, we take the necessary steps to get them removed from the platform.
We monitor apps in over 30 marketplaces, including the most popular ones like the Apple App store and Google Play. We provide in-depth analyses of the apps you request, including developer, content, publisher, and app behaviour. In addition to that, we also monitor different versions of the same app and take steps to ensure takedown of any copyright infringement, should it come to that.
Depending on the actual technology WhatsApp shopping will use, our app monitoring service may be helpful in detecting copyright infringement or fake products offered on the app.
Although WhatsApp shopping is new, many issues arising on the platform will be the same ones that have already surfaced elsewhere. globaleyez has successfully tackled many of these issues with our dedicated software and services.
These include marketplace, image, and domain monitoring, test purchases, marketplace sales tracking, partner compliance, enforcement, and the aforementioned social media and app monitoring. Our tools and services, arm-in-arm with our comprehensive and client-oriented 360° approach ensures that we’re ready to meet our clients’ brand protection needs on any platform and marketplace.
While the exact changes still remain to be seen, WhatsApp shopping will definitely alter the social commerce landscape. If you’re planning to enter this new marketplace, it’s best if you’re prepared to protect your brand in this new environment as well.
We’re closely monitoring the situation around WhatsApp shopping to detect any potential issues and we’re ready to face any problems this new marketplace will bring to light. Contact us and find out how we can help you navigate WhatsApp shopping, or face any other brand protection problem.