This episode of the Ecommerce Coffee Break Podcast features a conversation with Prakhar Vats one of the Founding members at LimeChat.ai. We discuss how to use WhatsApp for sales, marketing and support.
On the Show Today You’ll Learn:
- The benefits of WhatsApp for online shopping and e-commerce
- What Artificial Intelligence (AI) I can do for your customer communication
- The best way to use WhatsApp for sales
- AI's ability to handle unusual requests
- Implementing AI in Shopify on a technical level
- And more
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guests: Prakhar Vats
Prakhar has been closely involved in LimeChat's growth from 0 to 250+ Enterprise Ecommerce brands globally. He is a strong believer in the power of hyper-personalized Conversational Commerce and wants to unlock this for Ecommerce brands around the world. LimeChat is an AI company that helps Shopify brands use WhatsApp for sales, marketing, and support. LimeChat works with over 250 Shopify Plus brands and helps them boost retention and revenue through WhatsApp.
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Claus Lauter: Hello and welcome to another episode of the e-Commerce Coffee Break. When we're talking about channels, how to reach your clients, your customers, then one channel I think is completely underestimated and that's what's up, what's up? A huge communication tool in many, many countries, and I think in e-commerce there is a good place and a good time for what's up.
And if we talk about sales, marketing, and support, WhatsApp is something that all Mauritians should keep in mind and use for their store. So with me today on the coffee break, I have Prakhar Vats. He's the founding member of Founding members at LimeChat.ai, and we how WhatsApp, helps you with sales, marketing, and support.
Paka has. Being closely involved in Lime Chat's growth from zero to 250 enterprise e-commerce brands globally. He's a strong believer in the power of hyper-personalized conversion commerce, as I am, and wants to unlock this for e-commerce brands around the world. Lime Chat is an IE company that helps Shopify brands to [00:02:00] use what's up for sales, and they have, as said, worked with 250 brands and have a huge experience on that side.
So let's say hello to Prakhar.
Prakhar Vats: How are you? All good. Great. , I'm really, really glad to be here. How are you doing? I'm
Claus Lauter: very well prca. Walk me through what makes you think that WhatsApp is such a great tool for online
Prakhar Vats: merchants? Absolutely. I'd love to. So, If you think about, how the e-commerce revolution started, right?
The first part of this entire e-commerce revolution was, a brick-and-mortar store owner, or you have a business idea in mind and you want to sell online, right? Suddenly the world wide web or the internet became a channel for you, became a medium for you to know, and take your business online.
And we've seen that work brilliantly for brands across the globe, not just in a certain, country or a specific region, but across the globe, right? , we've seen so many e-commerce merchants come on board, and Shopify and commerce. These companies have, you know, kind of made things so easy now if you take a look at it, right?
If you take a look at data across like you also mentioned, , it's said in the SaaS industry, I think it holds true for everything, right? Be where our customers are, If you take a look at WhatsApp usage, across the globe, The [00:03:00] average user, at least in the subcontinent of India, spends 50 minutes every day on WhatsApp, right?
, that tells you something. People are spending more and more time on these chat platforms where they can get to interact with their friends and family and, they also use it for work now, So they're using this platform for, , virtually everything under the sun, right?
In a way, when it comes to communication. What we thought was, why should e-commerce not , use this opportunity? Why should e-commerce not use this platform? Why we think that, WhatsApp is a great medium, is, you know, very simply put B where your customers are, number one.
Number two is, it's slightly different in that, take a look at all marketing and sales channels that we've had till now. Take a look at email and SMS, for example, These are all one way channels in the sense that. If you ask an e-commerce brand, right? When was the last time somebody responded to your marketing email, right?
You sent them saying, Hey, we have a new release or something, right? How many people respond to you? But Try doing that once on WhatsApp or try doing that once on, even on an Instagram dm, just pick your a hundred top, , followers that you have. I'm sure you have millions. Just pick the top 100 and just send them a personalized alert saying, Hey [00:04:00] Klaus, you know, we are rolling this out.
We'd love to know your. See how many of them respond. I'll tell you the numbers which we see in India. It's roughly around 45 to 60%, depending on the brand. It's not a one way channel in that the brands. Can not just send a message, but they should also expect messages in return. This makes such a high intensity, such a high, engagement channel, That , it holds a gold mine for e-commerce brands out there in the world. Like you also said in the bio, right? I'm a firm believer of personalized, conversational. WhatsApp is the medium that is shaping up to be, the one channel that can , unlock that, personalized conversational commerce across the.
Claus Lauter: Makes total sense. And as you said, it's a two-way communication. I like the example was the email where you send in it in one, never everyone replies to emails. Now, when it comes to customer support, obviously , a lot of merchants have the problem that they do not have the man power to men. Online chat or WhatsApp or any other kind of two-way communication, 24 7.
, AI helps with that. Lunch chat helps us that give you an idea on how that works.
Prakhar Vats: I'll, I'll give you an idea and I'll give you some numbers. So we started, you know, in early [00:05:00] 2020 just as the pandemic struck us, the foundation Day of a company is Spy Dates March 14th, 2020. And that was the day we officially started with the first brand.
what we realized really early on, So far, the entire world has been looking at support queries with a lens that may not be appropriate in the sense, , before we even started, so right from early 2020, we started analyzing queries that these brands get, right. So in India we have, a few.
Top brands, who are doing, a lot of revenue by selling online, to name a few, it's Mama In its India's first, e-commerce Unicorn, right? We have tons of others, right? We started analyzing their data, analyzing all the customer support queries that they were starting to get into the system, and what we realized was that 70 to 80% of them were redundant.
. In the sense that in India, shipping and logistics is a minor bit of a problem. You know, people place an order and then they expect instant returns or instant delivery, right? And then they start ping you saying, Hey, where's my order? Across the globe as well. Mostly what people message you when it comes to support queries.
And I'm, not speaking about, pre-sale queries or people asking questions about products. I'm [00:06:00] only speaking strictly in terms. After placing an order, all the support queries that you get, roughly, it can be, you know, put into four buckets. One is, you know, where's my order or track my order.
Second is, you know, can you modify it? Can I get it into a different, shape, color, size, you know, depending on the kind of products you have or, lastly is, some people message you and say, can you cancel this? Right? I placed it by mistake, or maybe I've changed my mind.
And this basically 70% of what you. Right. If you take a look at e-commerce, Shopify is at the center of it, right? Everything is bucketized or containerized. know, You have collection data, your product data, your SKU data, right? Everything's already in there, so, If there's a platform or if there's a tool that is smart enough to, understand, okay, somebody's asking for a cancellation or over a modification and can make those changes for you in your e-commerce backend.
Bob's your uncle, as they say, that basically solves it for you. So that's what we built in a way. And then, the results were astounding, so to speak, in the sense that. We've had big, I would say Shopify plus merchants coming to us and saying, Hey, how, how, how is this possible?
Right? This was a 30 person [00:07:00] support team that I had, and now it's down to seven. Right? So that's actually, you know, how, how much of a prospect it holds, because like I said, most of what you get is simply redundant stuff that can be very easily. I think it's a very
Claus Lauter: good example there saying that because it's redundant, it's always the same coming in that you can automate it, that AI can help you with that.
And then you have the, , 30% that are basically then queries that are out of the ordinary. And I said, what's up , a huge channel. Not necessary. WhatsApp was built for e-commerce and, , for sales. , help me to understand how you use or how you facilitate WhatsApp first for sales and, , for the 30% where the queries are out of the
Prakhar Vats: ordinary.
So, I'll answer that question in two parts, right? One word I would address the 30% queries that cannot be automat. There's a very, , good founder friend of mine. , I was speaking to him about this, you know, the same, , question that he asked me, like, these 30% queries that cannot be automated.
And his response was very simple, right? Those are the 30% of people that run my [00:08:00] brand, right? Those are the 30% of people who have an actual in-depth suggestion or an in-depth, you know, recommendation that, if I allocate my support talent to those queries, I'm much better off than, you know, just tracking out people's orders or canceling them.
Right? , luckily for them, we cancel them automatically for them, right? In an automated way. But these 30% queries where somebody's actually coming in and actually has queries and concerns that, would help the brand in the long. These brands are more than, happy to kind of deal with those 30% queries that cannot be automated.
The second part of your question was inherently, if you take a look at WhatsApp, it looks like it's not a channel meant for sales , or marketing. But take a look at some of the features that now Meta is rolling out right now.
WhatsApp is all under meta, right? It's all in, and Facebook, your WhatsApp, right. Let's take a look at some of the features meta is rolling out when it comes to WhatsApp, because we manage meta partners across the globe, I will not even speak of things that I know are going to be rolled out in the future.
I'll only speak of things that already exist, I'll only take the example of Shopify in this case, right? If you are a Shopify [00:09:00] merchant, your entire product catalog can be attached to your WhatsApp. WhatsApp itself is allowing it. You can not only have all of your SKUs populate there, You can allow people to come in, select the wherein, select the color, select the size, or whatever it is, right, that you're selling, And it happens automatically between Shopify and your WhatsApp number, WhatsApp in itself is rolling out features that kind of welcome e-commerce merchants from across the globe, there's another development. Again, this has not happened in India yet. it's about to be rolled out, but it has already happened in Brazil, where within WhatsApp itself. Somebody can come in and then they can just type concerns like, Hey, I'm looking for, you know, products that can help you with my acne or my hair, or, show me black dresses.
And WhatsApp itself will have an in-house store that will link to these brands of sorts. Let's say I sell t-shirts in India, somebody comes in and says, Hey, I'm looking for a hundred percent cotton t-shirts. Maybe if my marketing is good enough on WhatsApp, or maybe if WhatsApp thinks I'm a good enough brand, it'll recommend my brand to the customer on WhatsApp [00:10:00] itself. And then, like I said, somebody can click on my store, somebody can take a look at all of my products on WhatsApp itself, the descriptions, the size, the colors, and if they choose to make that purchase. Completing the entire checkout journey on WhatsApp is also a possibility.
We're doing it in India and we're seeing incredible. these are things that already exist. Like I said, not even speak of something that does not exist right now. I know tons of different things that are going to make WhatsApp a huge and a very solid channel of all three things, marketing, sales, and support specifically for e-commerce, But I'll only speak of things that already exist, so, You can bring your store to WhatsApp. You can have all your products on WhatsApp. You can allow people to not only converse with you, but also to check out, complete their entire checkout journey on WhatsApp itself. So that's where Meta is taking WhatsApp as a product and come to think of it, They're not really doing anything that is new. Right? , take a look at what WeChat does in China, It's not only a messaging app, not, it's not only a communications app, it's also facilitating, the buying and selling of products, within [00:11:00] that app itself, I have, being, breathing e-commerce and chart and WhatsApp, you know, for the past almost three years. For a fact that this is the, direction in which, you know, WhatsApp is also going. We have very solid product roadmaps and product releases that, from meta and itself that suggest the same.
I hope that answers your question.
Claus Lauter: That's absolutely, , very exciting news that you just, , told me there. , specifically with your background, knowing what's already possible in certain countries and which obviously are features that will come on the global level.
I like the idea that now on WhatsApp, you can basically have the whole marketing funnel and the user journey from A to z. From ads through the Meta Ads manager to the checkout and stay on the same medium, stay on the same device without going anywhere else. Because that's often a problem that when people have to switch to a different device or do have to switch a platform, you lose them along the way.
Let's talk a little bit about the technical implementation of your solution into Shopify. How
Prakhar Vats: does that. Install an app, and again, , I'll not even take Line Chat's name.
I'll just say in general, if you want to, have WhatsApp. , you can do it, , through your Facebook manager or Facebook business manager itself. You know, with us it's even more simple. , just install our app. You'll get a crm which will guide you through all these different steps. So applying for the WhatsApp number, [00:13:00] right?
So you get a verified badge, you get a green tick on WhatsApp. That's very important to maintain credibility. There's one button that will fetch all your products from Shopify and populate it on WhatsApp itself. And, there's one button to enable that auto checkout , on chat itself.
I also happen to run, for my own testing. An e-commerce brand in India. I have done it for my own brand. For me, took less than 30 minutes. For somebody else, it might take, you know, , 90 minutes.
That's, that's basically what the difference is. It's incredibly easy to set up. Okay.
Claus Lauter: once you have your number and you have, the connection with Shopify, what's the next step to get, , lime Chat activated and to basically then do the day by day, job on the.
Prakhar Vats: Amazing question. Think about it in this , I personally believe, and I can in a way predict because , I'm seeing the numbers in India and, Southeast Asia , and some, brands in Europe is. Very soon, and before brands even know it, chat commerce will be as important as website commerce to them.
In the sense that, take a look at how you approached building your website online. When you started with Shopify. . The first step was, okay, the website is there, right? So whatever I have explained till now is [00:14:00] just about getting your website live now.
What are the other things that you started after you, got your website live, right? You improved the product, you improved the, the landing pages. You worked on the checkout flow, you added the Shopify email journeys, ?
So in the sense somebody comes in, abandons the check. , you send them an alert on WhatsApp, right? Somebody, clicks on, notify me when this is back in stock. , you set up a flow to send an email to them. Right? Now, the second part, like I said, once somebody has added their WhatsApp number, and once somebody has started, using WhatsApp as a medium of communication, the second part is setting up the flows.
I cannot begin to tell you how, beneficial this is. So think about. All the messaging that you're already doing, I will not even introduce a new topic to you right now. Just say all the messaging that you're currently doing. Right. even forget all the money-making campaigns. I will not go into cart recoveries , and all of those things, which, people generally perceive as spam, but just think about somebody's place in order.
You inform them on their email. What. Try doing it on WhatsApp saying, Hey, thanks for your order, right? , you're packaging it. We'll let you know when it's shipped, just in case you want to check it out. Here is a link, or not even a link, [00:15:00] just click this button to see the rest of the collection and see what people frequently buy together.
and take a look at the kind of response you get on chat. It's going to be substantially, I cannot begin to tell you how much of a difference you'll see, but it's going to be much, much, much higher than you're expecting. So in the sense, I'll give you an example.
So particular brand in India, we're working with them. So they're in the makeup, the cosmetic space. And they usually have products that go really well together. So if you buy a primer, right, you more or less want the foundation, or you more or less want, want the serums or, or the face things to go with it.
So what happens is they run certain ads and meta on Facebook. People click on that ad, people come to the website, people purchase. now. What we did for these people was that, hey, thanks for placing an order. your order is incomplete without these additional things. Right? And just click on this button and we'll complete the checkout for you on WhatsApp itself.
Bam. Right? A 30% increase in, I would say the overall retention that the brand was seeing because this was happening for each and every S K U. So, To facilitate this, we've built in a way, I'm sure I'll not use Jargons there, but everybody knows Clavio, right? Clavio is something you use for, , [00:16:00] setting up your marketing automations.
So we've built something specifically for WhatsApp, right? And the only difference is that not only setting these journeys, But an important part about dealing with customers on WhatsApp is being prepared for what they're going to answer next. So let's say you send them this message, what if somebody responds with this?
Right? Where do you respond then? Because this is certainly a new territory, right? Nobody is kind of experimented with this before. Everybody's kind of ex, build their expertise in sending the right messages. But nobody's built their expertise for, handling the right responses or the right It is different from any other mode of marketing. And why we needed to build that platform is because not only you can build any campaign that you want on WhatsApp, but you can also configure responses. So any message that goes, you can configure two quick responses under that, that you know, whatever you are expecting people to respond with, just put them as patterns and you will see your engagement sky rocket.
I would say you don't want to use a specialized app. Let's say you're a very early stage brand. Do it manually. Do it for the first [00:17:00] 100 clients that you have, and take a look at how well people perceive this. And then obviously, we can help you if you want, but , that's effectively how it is.
using WhatsApp, and if I don't even use the word WhatsApp here, using hyper personalized conversational commerce, right? WhatsApp happens to be the favorite tool globally, but using hyper personalized conversational commerce is basically, the way of going forward.
Right? I would say this is effectively how Congress will start to happen before you even. We are seeing trends not just in India. India happens to be a very WhatsApp friendly country, but even areas like Singapore, Malaysia, right? Even areas like the Middle East, some brands in Germany, in France, right?
They're seeing amazing, amazing retention simply because they're not just sending messages, they're allowing people to respond to them. Right? And I'll be honest, a lot of people respond with saying, Hey, why are you sending me this? I don't actually need to converse. That is a part of it. I cannot not address.
Right. That is a part of it. People will respond saying, I don't want this automation, I don't want this messaging from you. Well, you know, it's just with every message we send the button saying, Hey, if you [00:18:00] want to opt out, click on this. But so far people are seeing amazing and incredible value. Brands see incredible results.
that's basically what keeps us going.
Claus Lauter: Okay. No, I think that's a very good summary. And one point, is that if you receive a WhatsApp message, there is like a 99% chance that you will open it. like s m s text messages, right? In us. , s m s text messages is where whoever has used that as merchants knows how high the opening rates are.
But with that, there's a whole legal string there, how often you should send , and all of these things, which obviously was fall away. So I think just . The power that you have through WhatsApp in a positive way, , to reach your customer , is much higher than SMS tax marketing. Let me ask you about once you have all the setup and, and everything is done, is there sort of , a learning curve for you , as a merchant?
I think you touched briefly on that. what do you think, how long will it take between the implementation and everything is running smoothly?
Prakhar Vats: I would, again, approach this in two parts. One, The learning curve when it comes to using WhatsApp? It's you and your brand, you know, we're just connecting you through a medium that's much more, [00:19:00] engaging.
I think brands already know how to engage with their customers. , that doesn't involve a learning curve at all. The second part, I think, where a learning curve is, I wouldn't even call it a learning curve, so to speak. It's basically just learning a new way of marketing in the sense.
WhatsApp requires you to get certain messages approved before you send them, so as to, , not allow brands to spam people. . That's the only thing you need to be mindful of. any and every message you want to send just, apply for it. In the meta business suite ones, it takes 30 minutes on most occasions.
They just check for spam words, like extra discount and rush to the website. Now, things like those, because those are, accepted as being, , spammy, , which I truly believe you know, that no brand should ever be doing that. It should be everything that should be on WhatsApp should be conversational.
You're putting the customer in control. You're not just, imposing yourself on them. That's basically it. So , in terms of a learning curve, I don't think there is any, you just need to learn. How to send these messages. Everything else we already have, on the platform.
So you want to send a mass broadcast. You want to send to, let's say, 1000 people who already are customers, you want to ask them what they would want in terms of discount [00:20:00] for the next two months. You can just, configure a message, send them, configure the buttons, configure even the right responses to those buttons.
And send them that message. , all the automated messages that go for, cart recoveries for order confirmation for, let's say somebody's order has been shipped to the wrong address, there's an interesting use case here, I'll tell you about it. There's this brand, , who we recently did a webinar with as well.
It's called Sometime by Asian Designers. And they had a use case where , they sell bags online. People can get their names engraved on those bags. So these are leather bags, obviously very high quality, and you can type in your name on the website and , these people would engrave your names on their bag, and then send it to you.
What happened with them was a lot of people skipped, putting their right name or a lot of people, you made typos and all of those things. So these folks just configured a flow , on our platform. They'll select all the orders where they thought, okay, maybe engraving these names might bring in problems.
So just send them a WhatsApp message asking them for confirmation. And that was a very simple message. Hey, thank you so much for your. But do you confirm this is the name that we're moving forward with? Do you confirm yes or no? People [00:21:00] who said, Instantly, said, okay, thanks.
People who said no. Very simply, there was another follow-up message configured saying, Hey, okay, what would you want the name to be? And they would type on chat itself. The system would pick it up and then forward it.
Obviously they would, again, 10 to 20% people who, something like, I'm not understanding this or that for them, you know, obviously Asian got on chat and then they started conversing and then got the right response out of them. But for 80% people, this work like. In the sense that the brand, which otherwise would've had to call these people saying, Hey, you know, this, that, you know, it's just configure a flow, click send.
And that automatically starts happening. So the moment you mark something as, let's say , you configure a tag on Shopify, if you put that tag on your Shopify crm, this message goes automatically. That's the part of WhatsApp. Again, imagine if this happened on. Half of the people will never even look at their email for the next 30 days.
You know, another half would open it and then be like, eh, let's leave it. Right. But it's WhatsApp, right? They're using it for almost 40 to 50 minutes per day. Why would they not respond to you and why would they not do it? So , that's [00:22:00] what WhatsApp brings to the table, I'd say.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Amazing. Pka. Pka.
Give me a bit of a overview about the pricing of Lyme chat. How does that work?
Prakhar Vats: So the pricing is incredibly simple. We basically charge you on the basis of your usage, right? So you get the platform. We. , let you run. you get the full joint. You get the entire platform where you can configure all your marketing automations, where you can configure all the bot flows that you want, where you can configure the crm, all of those things.
And just on the basis of the conversations that you have, we charge you on the basis of that. So if it's a non-automated conversation, let's say the bot is not involved, any and every response is being handled by your agents itself will charge you eight. , per conversation. If it's something where the bot is involved, we'll charge you 12 cents per conversation.
And a conversation is not a message. It's a 24 hour long interaction with the customer. So, Per conversation, not per message. So 8 cents and 12 cents, that is it. There's a fixed fee, which basically is, so signing up roughly, I think $99 or $49. Again, depending on the scale that you have. We also have enterprise [00:23:00] pricings because you know, there are some really big brands that work with us and basically we're in India, we're just our top few clients.
We sending over 1 million marketing messages per day. , that's basically to give you an idea of the scales of our brands of this scale. We also have, enterprise pricing. But more or less, I think for 90% of the brands, , the $99 plan on the one $49 plan, , that works for them.
Claus Lauter: Okay. Where can people find more about Launch chatt?
Prakhar Vats: You can go to line chat.ai. You can take a look at our app on Shopify if you're somebody who's really new to WhatsApp and you have troubles about understanding how to use it.
Always feel free to, ping me on LinkedIn and what, just really something special just because I'm on this podcast and, just because Klaus, we've had this amazing discuss. On Shopify itself, you know, once you sign up, if you happen to inform us that you've come after seeing this podcast, we are offering additional 20% discount for the next three months.
So up until March, 2023, , any and everybody who's coming through your podcast, any and everybody who's coming through the e-Commerce Break podcast gets [00:24:00] an additional 20% off. The keyword is, C l a u s, in caps.
Just tell that to us and , we'll waive off 20% of , , your monthly fee.
Claus Lauter: Excellent. That's a great offer. I think the listeners will definitely love that and I hope a lot of them will sign up for that. Pka, thanks so much for giving us a very good overview of the power of WhatsApp and sales marketing , I think that will be one of the biggest marketing channels in 2023, and let's see how it goes.
Thanks so much for your time.
Prakhar Vats: Thank you so much, Klaus. Thank you for your time.
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