Click & Grow: How WhatsApp is giving Indian SMBs wings to fly

Platform helps find new customers and markets to tap into

Click & Grow: How WhatsApp is giving Indian SMBs wings to fly
Sagar Sindhwani, founder, Gullu’s; Nengneithem Hengna, founder, Runway Nagaland and Meera Ramakrishnan, founder, Zishta Traditional Store

Sagar Sindhwani, a Gurgaon-based business owner and a foodie by heart, founded Gullu’s in August 2019. In 2020, he decided to set up Gullu’s on the WhatsApp Business App. By sending out broadcast messages of new dishes on the menu, Sindhwani started expanding his customer base. As the inflow of orders began increasing substantially, Gullu’s recorded 50% increase in sales from what they were before the lockdown. Today, Gullu’s kitchen has developed a loyal customer base in Gurgaon. “Till date, the kitchen has been functioning entirely through the WhatsApp Business App only—right from receiving orders to delivery confirmations,” he says. The simplicity of this app stands out for businessmen like Sindhwani, who are accustomed to easier ways of doing business. Currently, the Gullu’s crew is 20 people strong, dedicatedly serving food across town.

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Since 2011, Nengneithem Hengna is running her startup, Runway Nagaland. The business has a passionate team of 27 women artisans who make Goulu Tribal Jewellery. Runway Nagaland, which only employs women artisans, took a hit during the lockdown. Nengneithem used that time to research and find sustainable ways to upskill her team. Finally, she decided to leverage the power of digital media tools.The artisans at Runway Nagaland were trained virtually through group video calls on WhatsApp. They also started using social media platforms to get more support for the artists. Today, Runway Nagaland is consistently expanding its customer base through the WhatsApp Business App. Using the Catalog feature, Nengneithem has been able to showcase the varied range of products easily. With the Label feature on the app, managing orders has been effortless for the team. Runway Nagaland has also been accepting digital payments from customers taking a step forward in the digital world, says Nengneithem.

Across the world, over 50 million small businesses are using the WhatsApp Business App to build an online presence for their business in the simplest way possible which also enables them to find new customers and new markets to tap into. For the majority of businesses, WhatsApp is often their first digital gateway, says Archana Vohra, director, Small and Medium Business, India – Meta. “For over 15 million businesses in India, the WhatsApp Business App is a simple, secure and free-to-use technology that has helped them build their online presence on a platform where they can easily connect with their customers.”

What is it that makes the simple WhatsApp Business App, an efficient tool for business owners? Here are two quick, real-life examples to substantiate this point.

Geeta Kundel and her husband Himanshu Pandir founded NM Pickles in 2020, after the couple lost their jobs during the pandemic. With no extra additives like vinegar or other preservatives in their pickles, NM Pickles base their business on this USP. Once they started using the WhatsApp Business App in 2021, they began benefitting from the ‘Catalog’ feature to showcase their products, and Quick Reply feature to seamlessly converse with their clients. By advertising their WhatsApp number on Facebook and Instagram, they were able to directly get connected with prospective customers and start a conversation with them. With a profitable return on investment, advertising their WhatsApp Business App number helped them promote their business better and reach people on a larger scale.

Then, there is Zishta Traditional Store, Bangalore. Meera Ramakrishnan founded Zishta Traditional Store along with two other partners, Achish Mathe Madhavan and Varishtha Sampat in July 2015. Zishta works with a cluster of rural artisans who have been hand-crafting the home and decor products using traditional techniques. Ramakrishnan and her partners set up shop on the WhatsApp Business App and as time progressed. Using the Quick Reply and Catalog features on the WhatsApp Business App they were able to boost their business and showcase their products to prospective customers. From a founding team of three members, Zishta is now 17 members strong.

“The WhatsApp Business App has several other features that have been built keeping in mind the small business owner in India,” Vohra explains. “With the Catalog feature, you can create a free mobile storefront to showcase your products and services. This lets customers easily browse and discover things they might like to buy. It also makes it easier for people to share a catalogue or item they find with friends or family by simply copying the link and sharing it on WhatsApp,” she says, adding, “more than 3 million people in India view a business catalogue on WhatsApp each month.”

Similarly, the ‘Quick replies’ feature allows you to easily address the frequently asked questions, and ‘away’ messages inform customers of when they can expect a response.

WhatsApp Business App is for small businesses who manage conversations with customers. Key benefits:
Create your business profile
Build your product/ services ‘Catalog’
Send custom welcome messages
Organise leads with ‘Labels’
Connect with customers via chat

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First published on: 10-10-2022 at 01:45 IST