Luxury e-commerce group Yoox Net-a-Porter is working on an initiative that will allow customers to buy products directly through Facebook-owned messaging service, Whatsapp.
The company already sees its personal shoppers using the app to communicate with its most valuable clients, and its plan is to expand that usage, according to CEO Federico Marchetti.
Some 40% of its higher-margin in-season revenue comes from just 2% of its customers, which it calls its EIPs, or extremely important people, he explained to Bloomberg. The company also knows its mobile shoppers place more than double the orders of desktop users.
“We’ve made some of our biggest sales to EIPs by chatting to them through WhatsApp,” Marchetti said.
Whatsapp currently has a reported 1.2 billion monthly active users, up from over 700 million in January 2015. It’s one of the most popular messaging service worldwide, but being a closed network, has not been an easy one for brands to utilise.
While the likes of Vogue launched a short-lived group chat (or broadcasting service) on the app in 2016, most other instances, including a campaign from Agent Provocateur for the holiday season, have been focused on individual communications.
This sits alongside the likes of WeChat in China by comparison, where payments are already integrated and many users have their bank accounts linked to the service. Luxury brands in this space are still new to the idea of selling directly, with just a fraction of them offering it according to research firm L2, but there’s scope there for uptake.
At this point, YNAP says it is still testing its plans for Whatsapp and has no scheduled release date. Marchetti declined to give details on how payments might work on the platform, but stored client details might be the simplest method without a significant technology development. In other words, manually ringing up e-commerce via existing accounts as an option following the clienteling side of the private personal shopper conversations on the app.
There are also learnings already out there from other businesses. In the US, Nordstrom for instance launched a service called TextStyle that allowed customer to buy directly from sales associates via messaging, simply by replying “buy” and entering a unique code. The purchase is completed using the customer’s Nordstrom.com account information.
Meanwhile, we’ve also started to see the move to e-commerce within platforms like Facebook Messenger off the back of the growth of chatbot services. The likes of Everlane, Sephora, Burberry and others have been using it as both a content-sharing and customer service tool. Payments are also possible, hinting at what could be rolled out to Whatsapp down the line.
That said, Everlane recently announced it is pulling back from using the platform as a notification option, returning instead to email. When the partnership first started in 2015, CEO Michael Preysman said: “Over time we think this will become a way to not only build stronger relationships with customers, but to ultimately drive demand and new purchases.” It looks like that may not have happened, Recode reports.