No need to visit a webshop anymore, use WhatsApp!

Nowadays smartphones are all around us. When taking a train, walking around on campus or visiting a concert, you can see people using their phone everywhere. One of the major purposes of the mobile phone is texting. However sending SMS (for the ones who never heard of it: Short Message Service) messages is completely out-dated. Mobile service providers lost their cash cow to various message services that are using an Internet connection for getting messages from one person to another. The most popular one is WhatsApp.

Currently WhatsApp is installed on 90% of all smartphones in the Netherlands and the application has 9.5 million Dutch active users (Bathoorn, 2015; Multiscope, 2015). Furthermore, the app is used frequently: on average Dutch WhatsApp users are sending 30 messages per day while receiving 65 messages. For young adults between 18 and 34 years old, these numbers are even 60 and 150 respectively (Multiscope, 2015).

Mobile phones notifying you all day long about a new picture that has been send by your friend or about your mom asking you when you will visit your parents again. But the app is not just used for personal messages. Currently 38% of all WhatsApp users are using the app for business purposes as well. Among young adults (18-34 years) this number reached 48% already (Multiscope, 2015).

Since WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps and people tend to use it for business purposes as well, why haven’t a lot of companies switched to WhatsApp in order to reach customers yet? That is exactly what Jarno Duursma discusses in his book called ‘WhatsApp voor bedrijven’ (WhatsApp for businesses). Duursma describes four major reasons why businesses should use WhatsApp (Bathoorn, 2015):

  1. With 9.5 million active users, target groups are using the app on a large scale.
  2. WhatsApp is user friendly; everyone knows how to use the app.
  3. Messages are more likely to be read. WhatsApp is currently in the top 5 of apps being used most frequently worldwide.
  4. WhatsApp can lead to higher conversion in comparison to social media, since messages can be send anonymous instead of via a public page.

An early adopter of WhatsApp for business is SuitSupply, a well-known men’s fashion brand. To provide high quality service via the app, SuitSupply linked the message service to their CRM system. By doing that, they directly know whether a customer purchased something before, whether he is still waiting on a package to arrive or whatsoever (Duursma, 2015). As mentioned by Martijn van der Zee, marketing director at SuitSupply, customers can send WhatsApp messages when they need any style advice. Customers can easily send a picture of their suit and a SuitSupply employee will find and share matching shirts and ties. If a customer is interested, he can even pay via WhatsApp and in most cases the products will be delivered the next day (Duursma, 2015).


So, with an incredible number of active users and the successful case of SuitSupply, WhatsApp seems to be a valuable way of contacting and serving customers. So, would you prefer WhatsApp instead of other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? And do you believe in ordering via WhatsApp, or would you rather visit a webshop?

Let me know!


Bathoorn, J. (2015, June 6). WhatsApp voor bedrijven, doe jij al mee? Accessed on: October 10, 2015, at

Duursma, J. (2015, October 5). WhatsApp als servicekanaal: Suitsupply pakt het innovatief aan [case]. Accessed on October 10, 2015, at

Multiscope. (2015, July 28). Nederlander krijgt 65 berichten per dag via WhatsApp. Acessed on October 10, 2015, at


8 responses to “No need to visit a webshop anymore, use WhatsApp!”

  1. 366004ko says :

    This is an interesting article that sheds light to a new idea of messaging. Till now private messaging and customer to business interaction seemed to have been separated. According to Facebook it is looking into B2C messaging opportunities on Whatsapp (Vibes, 2015). With this customers can be messaged by brands, opening up a new way for marketers of brands to reach customers globally as previously this was limited by the SMS-function that was bounded by carrier costs.

    Initially the first thought that came into my mind was: will I be attacked with advertisements on Whatsapp, while all I want to use it for is private messaging? The B2C messaging function is supposed to be available only when brands are given permission, however I still do not see the importance of such a function on a messaging application. I think the distinction between a formal interaction and informal interaction between friends is important. Interaction between customers and businesses should be made through the brand’s own platform (be it a website or an application).

  2. 347379fz says :

    In his article ‘Strategy and the Internet, E. Porter (2001) states ‘most buyers will value a combination of on-line services, personal services and physical locations over stand-alone Web distribution’. The service SuitSupply offers by use of WhatsApp is something many Webshops lach, personal advice/ service. It gives people who have no time to visit the physical store and experience the personalized advice the opportunity to get the full service experience he/ she would otherwise miss.
    I personally prefer to visit the physical location of the store. But when I’m working 40 hours a week, I can imagine its a luxury to have personalized style advice at a distance. A WhatsApp message is also a very quick and easy way. Messages are quickly written and there is no need to reply immediately. This could be done within meetings.
    Another benefit of using WhatsApp in comparison to Facebook, is the lack of personal information displayed at WhatsApp. On Facebook there is a lot of personal information visible for others, photo’s, education, employer, year of birth just to name a few. At WhatsApp someone can only see your profile picture.
    So concluding, I would prefer to be approach via WhatsApp in comparison to Facebook or other social media.

  3. 371764ak says :

    I also think this is a good way of approaching customers. As technological developments undermine the personal touch of sales personnel, a personal message of an employee to a customer can be seen as providing personal attention. ABN Amro Studenten has also already started this initiative.

  4. 441728zh says :

    Great article. I dont know if your have heard, but companies already started to make use of Twitter when it comes to ordering. There is TweetaBeer that lets you send an ice cold brew to any of your Twitter friends. You sync up your Twitter account with PayPal, and turn tweets into $5 cash using third-party app Chirpify. Also Dominos pizza lets customers order via twitter. They simply can tweet the pizza emoji to the Domino’s Twitter handle to start the order process.

  5. spitinov says :

    Thank you for the interesting insights, tlangenberg.

    Besides WhatsApp there is a growing trend in the industry to include commercial services into apps. Just want to mention few recent examples:
    1. For a year already you can easily purchase things in Twitter not leaving the app.
    2. Youtube is going to introduce the system that will recognize the objects in video and advice you the shops where you can buy it
    3. Facebook customizes its in-app purchases making them more convenient and customized


  6. 439886mj says :

    When you have so many various possibilities to spend your money in the messenger, you actually need the other side of the issue — money supply. And or course, messengers will gladly provide you with that as well. Already now you can transfer money via Facebook messenger, but what is more interesting — some messengers even offer you microloans.
    Apparently, we are not that far away of having all the necessary financial services incorporated in the messenger.

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