Improving retail experience has always been the key focus.

In the old days, email has been a huge part of a retail brand’s marketing strategy. However, in 2019, Retail customers only open 21.33% of their emails. In contrast, 90% of their instant messages are opened within three minutes of receiving them.

Complementing the high engagement potential of instant messages is the increasing penetration of social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook MessengerWeChat, and others. These messaging apps could drastically improve retail customer experience, especially among high-spending millennials and Generation Z.


The impact? 65% of the customers today talk to businesses via messaging apps and that number is rapidly growing.

What Does This Mean for Retail Businesses?

With messaging apps improving engagement and retail experience, the answer is simple –  messaging apps bring you a larger target audience, superior engagement, and better conversions than email marketing for retail.

Consider this: the top 3 most popular messaging apps in the world – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat have 4 billion active monthly users combined. On average, consumers also open their messaging apps multiple times a day engaging with these platforms. Utilizing the power of these messaging could open up new opportunities for retail businesses.

Imagine this, if your e-commerce store plans to send updates to your customers about a new product or an announcement, which channel would be more effective and have higher customer engagement? Instant messages (90% open rate) or emails (21.33% open rate)?

What’s more, the full potential of messaging is yet to be realized. 35% of instant messaging app users are currently unengaged by retail and e-commerce businesses. This is an enormous amount of untapped potential that can fuel the growth of those who dare to tap this segment.

Although retail and eCommerce businesses have embraced technology to support their marketing activities and improve customer experience recently, instant messaging remains untouched. In fact, only 16% of retail and online businesses use instant messaging apps for customer engagement.

Many sales agents use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to create a personalized retail experience for customers. However, this approach at an individual level may quickly get overwhelming, and eventually unsustainable upon growth.

There’s a massive early mover advantage waiting for any offline retail and online e-commerce stores on instant messaging. 

Active users per platform

Challenges Before Retail and E-Commerce Businesses

Despite the overwhelming potential offered by the messaging apps, retailers and online stores continue to display a knee-jerk reaction in embracing them. Here are the top reasons:

Lack of Team Collaborations

Most of the retailers and eCommerce businesses can employ certain team software to unify staff in a single platform for external communications. Current messaging apps do not allow task delegation, pinning notes, ticketing, tagging teammates, or other such features. For instance, WhatsApp Business can only be used on one phone which is not designed for larger teams. Lack of team modules brings down the efficiency of manpower.


Lack of Guidelines and Best Practices

Retail and e-commerce consumers who get too many messages or poor service from the businesses often mute or even block them permanently. Lack of guidelines for best practices in instant messaging for marketing can be detrimental to its brand equity. Businesses have to strike the critical balance between quality and quantity for the continued engagement of the users.

Lack of Automations and Routing

It’s not always easy for businesses to offer a pleasant retail experience via instant messaging apps. Customers expect quick responses to their queries and any delays in response often translate into animosity towards the brand. You have to make sure that every message from every messaging channel should be routed to the right person in the right department, and automation could help you cut down a lot of manual processes, such as copying and pasting birthday promo messages to all your customers. 

a kid paying in a grocery store

A World of Opportunities

Tapping into instant messaging apps opens up an enormous untapped market for businesses. However, there’s more to it than just the sheer volume. Retail and eCommerce businesses can leverage messaging apps to fuel their growth and engage their customers in several crucial ways:

Coupons & Discounts 

According to a recent survey, as much as 77% of the consumers opt-in to receive messages related to coupons and deals, which has 6x open rates and 8x click rates compared to emails.

Improve Satisfactions 

A terrific 78% of consumers want businesses to send them instant messages regarding services updates and purchases. And, most of them agree that response speed is the primary driver of their satisfaction with the brand. This is especially true when customers have a negative retail experience. For instance, any delays in processing the return or refund requests will cause lasting damage to the brand image and loyalty. Businesses can use messaging apps to allay such customers’ fears and win them over again by giving them a better retail experience.

Boost Conversions – Online to Offline 

Online users demand to interact with the business before they make a purchase. They like to enquire about the product options, shipping terms, discount offers, and more. Even in the case of retail businesses, 33% of the consumers use messaging apps to get product information from retailers. And sometimes translating online leads to offline sales could be as simple as assigning a sales agent to that particular customer. Therefore, a simple message can often mean the difference between a sale, a footfall, and a wasted opportunity. 


Building Bonds

Messaging for Business makes the customer retail experience between the brand and the client more personalized. The organic relationship it can foster especially works well for luxury retail, where high-end customers value relationships, and sales agents need to build a bond in order to make a sale.

How Instant Messaging Apps Are Improving Retail Experience

The rapid evolution of technology has made it possible for even SMEs to overcome resource limitations and adopt messaging apps to unlock new sources of revenue. Large enterprises, on the other hand, are using them to not only improve their sales but also reduce customer acquisition costs, improve customer experience, and build their loyalty. Here are some of the enterprise-class messaging apps and software features that are making all of this possible.



The new generation of chatbots is not only able to offer standard replies to customer queries but also provide them with personalized retail experience. That’s, up to 40% of the shoppers today would like to get offers and deals from chatbots.

Besides, chatbots can get the necessary information from the consumers and then route them to the relevant department or staff member, saving a tremendous amount of time for the support team.

Conversion Rate

The average conversion rate in the eCommerce industry is an abysmal 2.86%. Now, contrast that with the incredible 14% conversion rate offered by messages with coupons or links.

Better Relationships

Consumers carry their smartphones on them all the time and check their phones frequently for notifications and messages. By engaging them in their favorite app, businesses can ensure fast and reliable responses to their messages. 

More importantly, being able to connect with a business via instant messaging apps is far more convenient, faster, and easier for consumers. They can engage with your business whenever they want and on the platform they love. It’s the preferred option over phone and email channels for them. Any business that caters to this need wins their trust and business. 


Birthday offers, anniversary deals, abandoned card notifications, new product updates, and re-engagement messages can be automated based on specific triggers and customer notification preferences. This will streamline marketing efforts significantly and drastically reduce inefficiencies. On top of it, the unmatched conversion rates of instant messages will fuel the sales. It’s a win-win situation.  


Seamlessly Integrated Support

Business messaging apps are equipping enterprises with the team inbox feature, which allows them to deploy a dedicated team to manage customer messages. Each team member gets a mobile app, which they can use to interact with the consumers from anywhere via chat or call, maximizing their efficiency. 

A delightful advantage of this feature is that customers can seamlessly transition between offline and online channels without experiencing a drop in the quality of support.

Job Satisfaction

This not only boosts customer satisfaction and staff productivity but also improves the job satisfaction of the employees as they could cut tons of manual processes involving texting customers.

Multi-Channel Engagement

Multi-channel shoppers spend up to 3 times more than single-channel shoppers. Business messaging apps allow retailers and online stores to engage their potential customers on the channels of their choice. 

Users can seamlessly transit from one channel to another and get the same level of engagement. For instance, a customer enquires about a product on Facebook Messaging App, receives a coupon later on WhatsApp, places the order on the website, and receives purchase notifications via SMS and WhatsApp messages.


The advent of business messaging apps has made it possible for retailers and eCommerce businesses to achieve higher customer engagement and better retail experience in meaningful ways by utilizing messaging apps to boost their conversions and add to the bottom line. Software like SleekFlow is all you need to get started to improve the retail experience with your brand.

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