Selling in WhatsApp shops: how to get started (with or without the WhatsApp Business API)

Selling in WhatsApp shops: how to get started (with or without the WhatsApp Business API) blog

By Typie

WhatsApp marketing assistant

Ready to open a WhatsApp shop? Where do you start and how do you make sure it's a success for your ecommerce business? Read on for answers and top tips on selling and marketing in WhatsApp.


In 2018, WhatsApp launched a business-specific app to help brands promote their products and services on WhatsApp.


It’s called WhatsApp Business and it offers brands expert messaging tools, categorization options, and the ability to create a business profile, amongst other features. Since its launch, the app has gained a lot of attention and now has over 50 million users.


The app wasn’t originally designed as a marketing tool, but now you can use the WhatsApp Business app to do everything from boosting sales, creating WhatsApp ad campaigns, and you can even sell on WhatsApp.


You just need to know how it’s done. 


Here's everything you need to start selling on WhatsApp (with or without the WhatsApp Business API), plus a few tips for good luck! 🤞


How to sell in WhatsApp using conversational commerce

Follow these easy steps to get started:

  1. Download the WhatsApp Business app

  2. Register and create a business profile/page

  3. Set business hours and write a welcome message

  4. Get your account verified by WhatsApp to boost consumer confidence (if you choose to use our software, we will help you with this)

  5. Use labels to organize customers and chat threads: like "new" and "unpaid"

  6. Create and save quick replies to FAQs

  7. Create automated messages to respond to customers immediately

  8. Create a product catalogue to use on WhatsApp and other platforms

  9. Create profiles for your customer and share your products 

  10. Set up a WhatsApp shop


What is a WhatsApp shop? 🤔

A WhatsApp Business shop is a place for brands and individual retailers to sell easily and quickly by building a catalogue to sell products and services via WhatsApp.   


Once you register your WhatsApp Business account and create a WhatsApp catalogue, you can share a unique shop link and invite people to view your catalogue. Don’t stress 😅  WhatsApp created a professional set of shop tools to make it simple for brands and shop owners to make their products look great.


In the charles platform, a WhatsApp shop means more. We can integrate your online shop into our platform, whether Shopify, WooCommerce or your own self-built shop.


How to create a WhatsApp shop catalogue ☑️

When you create a catalogue for a WhatsApp shop you can choose from a variety of features to help you gain more visitors from your existing and new customers:


  1. Photo gallery: showcase your products via stunning images

  2. vCard: visitors can save your business info as a vCard file

  3. Social: include all social handles in one digital business card

  4. Services listing: list your services with a description and inquiry button to increase visitor conversions

  5. WhatsApp Chat: enable or disable WhatsApp Chat feature in your WhatsApp shop

  6. Payments: list your accepted forms of payment methods in your WhatsApp shop

  7. Google integration: integrate Google Business and/or Google Maps to display your location and Google business link


Benefits of the WhatsApp Business API

What is the WhatsApp Business API?

The WhatsApp Business API is like the WhatsApp Business app – a platform for businesses to set up and manage a WhatsApp channel – but with more features and fewer limitations.


It's designed for larger businesses with multiple users and thousands of customer interactions. 


To use it, you'll need to do some software development, or use a platform like charles that has already built a user interface and extra functionality on top of the WhatsApp Business API. 


Here are some advantages of


1. Reach more people with WhatsApp broadcasts 👨👩👧👦👨👩👧👦👨👩👧👦

The first thing you should do is advertise your business phone number to make sure that customers save your number to their contacts ☏ Then add your customers’ names to the products they’ve expressed interest in. This is useful for creating broadcast messages and lists.


Then divide your contacts into groups according to the sales journey: the "new" or "discovery" phase customers, the "consideration" customers which include those contemplating purchases, and the ‘decision’ customers which includes those who have purchased from you before.


Now you can send out group messages to each list and trust that they’re receiving content that’s applicable and appealing.


2. Reduce work with automated marketing campaigns 🤖

By automating messages, you can streamline sales, marketing and customer support processes. What is it exactly?


WhatsApp automated messages are pre-set replies that are automatically sent to incoming responses from prospective or existing customers on WhatsApp. The responses are sent without the need for any assistance from a human agent. 


You can program automated messages using keywords or "milestones." When a keyword is detected in a WhatsApp message or conversation, a pre-defined response is sent out. A milestone works with WhatsApp integrations like a customer relationship management (CRM) platform and includes actions like online purchases. This would trigger an automatic “Thank you.”


3. Boost sales with direct conversations 

The advantages of having personal, casual conversations with your customers are endless. After all, wouldn’t you rather speak to a human about a purchase than read an email or scroll endlessly in online shops? Having said that, most of our clients use very little resource for responding to customer requests – unless it's built into their WhatsApp strategy. Most of our clients use automation. Or dial up 


Conversational marketing also leads to more sales, cross-sells and up-sell opportunities. And direct conversations mean shorter sales cycles. WhatsApp chats, or phone calls in real time, allow you to avoid time-consuming forms, email back-and-forths, or arranging call backs. Simply put, you communicate more information in less time.


Pro tips for selling on WhatsApp 📈

Now that you’ve learned how to start selling on WhatsApp it’s time to consider some of the best practices for creating winning WhatsApp marketing campaigns. Some quick tips:

  • Use a business mobile device
  • Ask for customers’ phone contacts
  • Get verified
  • Create a WhatsApp broadcast list/groups
  • Label chat threads and customers
  • Automate messages and chat flows
  • Add interesting links and promotions
  • Send personalized messages
  • Create a messaging schedule


And some more detailed recommendations to help create a successful WhatsApp strategy:

  1. Set up automated flows: Use the WhatsApp Business API to set up automated, custom message “flows”. This includes entire conversations and certain segments of conversations. Automated flows are usually carried out by Chatbots 🤖🤖 that can display catalogues to customers, help you select the right product, facilitate instant check out with a shopping cart, send notifications, and most importantly, provide 24/7 service. Setting up the flows includes creating the dialogue and keywords needed for the bot to send out automated responses. 
    ⭐️ In charles, you do this with our Journeys tool (coming soon).

  2. Generate opt-ins to build a community: Opt-ins are one of the best ways to start collecting contact information and determining the level of interest in your brand. Generating opt-ins is the process of inviting website visitors and cold leads to sign up for additional marketing materials (newsletters, ads, etc…) An initial incentive is often used to persuade them to opt-in, i.e., a discount code. 
    ⭐️ In charles, you do this with our Chat-ins tool.

  3. Send out interesting marketing campaigns: Once you have your customer list, engage them with fun and easy-to-create marketing campaigns. Work with a WhatsApp Business Solutions Partner to learn to send creative campaign material in bulk. You can also track, analyze, and optimize your bulk communications to make sure you’re offering the most relevant ads.
    ⭐️ In charles, you do this with our Campaigns tool.

  4. Sell your products in WhatsApp directly: Creating an online catalogue for your brand lets your customers easily view and select your products. You can sell directly from your catalogue in WhatsApp Chats by integrating your online shop catalogue with the WhatsApp Business API. Other features include sending pre-filled carts with WhatsApp Shopping Cart, checking availability, and viewing customer buying habits. 
    ⭐️ In charles, you do this with our Commerce tool.


Now you’re on track to start selling more using the WhatsApp Business app or API, depending on the type and size of your company. 

Or do you need a WhatsApp platform?

If you're of a larger size, we'd recommend starting out with a dedicated WhatsApp platform like charles. You'll also find that if you start out with just one phone, you'll need to upgrade to special WhatsApp software at some point to help you manage multiple chat agents and add necessary features like analytics, segmentation and more.


To help you make this decision, use this checklist to see if you're right for a platform (yet).


Hope this helps! Let us know if you have any questions about selling in WhatsApp.



Get updates straight
to your phone.