As the co-founder of Vuuqa, an online marketplace that sells and promotes African products, I find myself relying on technology for the day-to-day running of my business. At Vuuqa, we have found that the best tool for us to be accessible and to communicate with our customers and suppliers is WhatsApp.
One of the most important things in any type of business, but more so in an online business, is to be accessible. This applies not only to your customers but also the suppliers that are selling on the platform. Customers and suppliers should be able to reach you in the most affordable, efficient and reliable way.
WhatsApp is the most popular mobile messenger app in Africa, this is according to the 2018 Global Digital Report.
WhatsApp has a separate app for small businesses called WhatsApp Business which was built for small businesses, enabling them to interact with their customers. It allows the business owner to:
• Create a business profile with your business information,
• Generate automatic messages, promoting quick replies, and
• Organise your chats by using labels.
I’ve highlighted the top 5 ways WhatsApp has helped Vuuqa below:
1. A cost-saving marketing tool
Not only do we use WhatsApp Business as a communication tool but we also use it as a marketing tool. We run marketing campaigns either directly to each customer/contact, groups or through updating our WhatsApp Status’. This enables us to reach a wider audience at low costs.
2. To build trust
Through our WhatsApp contact, customers have direct access to ask key questions such as making payments online. Communicating with a human being reassures the customer that we are a trustworthy business they can hold accountable.
3. To troubleshoot and educate
We sometimes encounter potential customers who want to purchase but either do not have the knowledge or the data to purchase online. We then use WhatsApp to walk them through the customer journey, from product selection, to address detailing, to successful payments.
4. To build a community
We also have a group on WhatsApp Business for our suppliers called the “Vuuqa Family” group. This group is strictly for information sharing. Most of our suppliers do not have access to email and we therefore rely on WhatsApp to communicate with them and vice versa.
5. To grow our brand database
WhatsApp Business has also assisted us in the sourcing of suppliers. Just like our current suppliers, some of our potential suppliers do not have access to email and their preferred mode of communication is WhatsApp. We utilize the document feature to share the company profile and a copy of the contract, allowing them to browse through and make immediate decisions without necessarily waiting to access their email.
To sum it all up, WhatsApp has helped us with an affordable why of attracting, acquiring and retaining both our customers and suppliers. It has also proven to be the best tool to utilize in the Afri-Commerce space for effective communication.