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The rise of messaging platforms in commerce: a closer look at WhatsApp integration for Singapore

The rise of messaging platforms in commerce- a closer look at WhatsApp integration for Singapore

An introduction to customer relationship management

As the term suggests, customer relationship management (CRM) is all about how well a business tends to the needs and demands of its current and potential customers. With the passage of time, digitalisation has rendered the CRM process to be vastly different today compared to how it was in the past. In the next portion of this article, we take a look at how CRM has changed over the years and why exactly it is so important to businesses, that new systems are constantly being developed to improve the CRM journey. 

CRM in the past  

Before technological and digital advancements, there was no social CRM. CRM was mostly done face-to-face. Organisations would talk to their customers either in person or over the phone to find out how satisfied they were with the products or services being delivered. Beyond that, the tracking of customer data, pushing of promotional content and online interactions were still not made possible. 

As businesses adopted database marketing in the 1980s, the first modern CRM systems emerged. While they were revolutionary in their time, there were certain gaps that needed to be bridged. A lack of interaction was the main concern. No doubt, these systems made it easy for businesses to receive customer information, however, they had no way of responding to or organising them. 

This issue was quickly identified and rectified and by the 1990s, loyalty programmes and referrals were introduced to CRM systems to enhance engagement with customers. CRM systems continued in their refinement, evolving together with technology. Thus, a few years later when cloud technology was developed, the modern CRM systems we know and love today, such as Salesforce and Hubspot were born. 

Social CRM Platforms Customer Service

CRM in the present 

There is no denying that the Internet and social media have brought about greater convenience, allowing us to perform many tasks from the comforts of our homes quickly and efficiently. Social CRM is no exception. Customers’ demands for quality and efficient CRM have increased and businesses are expected to fulfill these needs to remain competitive in the digital landscape. 

Today, CRM systems incorporate features and functionalities such as sophisticated analytics and comprehensive customer data that businesses can leverage to generate sales. 

Compared to the past, CRM systems now empower collaboration and are more team-focused. Certain features may allow different departments to oversee the CRM process so that everyone is kept up to date on any changes. Appropriate departments can also step in to offer help without lag time when their expertise is required. 

In addition, many CRM systems are now integrated with automation capabilities to boost productivity. From automatic replies to data entry and business follow-ups, the automation of these repetitive and mundane tasks frees up more time for employees to focus on more important matters that can enhance CRM operations.

Ultimately, perhaps the most important feature of social CRM systems today is their mobile-friendliness. In 2021, it was reported that 132% of the total population in Southeast Asia includes 887 million mobile connections, signifying the major reliance of people in SEA on the use of mobile internet. 

In a world that has heavily adopted a mobile-first approach, having a mobile-first CRM system is essential. When CRM systems are developed with a mobile-first strategy in mind, both customers and employees can interact remotely, which enhances overall efficiency and accessibility. A mobile-first CRM system also keeps businesses relevant, meeting the needs of an increasingly mobile landscape.     

The importance of CRM            

A good CRM strategy should not be overlooked. It can make all the difference in whether a customer engages with your product or service. CRM also influences customer loyalty and retention, which are core elements when it comes to profits and sales revenue. Most businesses are realising the importance of a good CRM system

According to Statistica, the CRM market revenue in the world has been steadily increasing, chalking up to a total of 52 billion US dollars in 2021! The below showcases why CRM systems have become such an indispensable tool for businesses. 

  • Comprehensive customer data

Understanding your target audience is the first step toward generating leads and sales. After all, these are the group of people your products or services are targeted towards. With comprehensive data capturing abilities, social CRM systems can help you learn more about your customers from purchasing history and behaviour to demographic and intentions. This record of information and leads can be leveraged to ensure relevant marketing material that will resonate with customers and increase persuasiveness. 

  • Boosted efficiency and productivity

As mentioned above, many social CRM systems are integrated with automated functions that not only reduce errors but allow employees to focus on more important tasks that impact an organisation’s business. Rather than spending time on routine work such as data entry and organising of information, employees can dedicate their time and efforts towards strategies that can drive sales instead such as marketing campaigns.

  • Optimised customer interactions 

Every customer is different, each with its own preferences and needs. Good customer service is all about optimising the customer experience so that interactions are made intuitive and comfortable. By simplifying and streamlining otherwise complicated customer interaction processes, social CRM systems aid in optimising customer interactions and enhancing customer satisfaction. This in turn maximises the opportunity to generate sales and advocate customer loyalty. 

Find out how PSB Academy succeeded with the integration of their existing CRM with SleekFlow.

A breakdown of the different chat platforms for CRM – a deep dive into WhatsApp

The importance of CRM systems cannot be understated. Nevertheless, what’s even more imperative is their relevance in today’s digital landscape. CRM systems must be kept up to date, taking into consideration the current needs and behaviours of customers. One such example is the use of social CRM. Today, the reign of both social media and mobile CRM has paved the way for social CRMs, enabling businesses to connect and engage with their customers through popular social messaging platforms. Therefore, the next portion of our article will centre around the popular social CRM platforms being used with a focus on WhatsApp CRM.

Chat platforms for CRM  

Apart from connecting with friends and families, social messaging platforms have expanded in their capabilities, serving as a useful CRM platform as well. In fact, 64% of people revealed that they would rather message a business than call or email. From Instagram and WhatsApp marketing to addressing queries on Facebook Messenger for Business, the social CRM platform options are endless.

Social CRM stats you need to know
  • Instagram

What was once created in 2010 as a platform to share lifestyle pictures, has now transformed to benefit businesses worldwide. Instagram launched its business arm in 2014, seeing the potentiality for Instagram marketing. To date, there are around 200 million business accounts and an estimated 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business profile. The Instagram business features include Instagram ads, Instagram shops and Instagram messaging. It even enables access to Instagram Direct Message API where CRM systems can be implemented to enhance Instagram marketing, sales and customer support. 

  • Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger for business is growing in popularity. Businesses exchange more than 20 billion messages with people on the platform. This messaging platform supports businesses and customers throughout the marketing funnel by driving awareness, acquiring customers, enabling transactions and maintaining that relationship. The fact that all these processes can now be performed online reinforces Facebook Messenger as a thought leader in the world of business.

  • Telegram

While Telegram may not be as popular as the business messaging channels that are Instagram and Facebook Messenger for business, It is slowly gaining traction with over 100 million users. The best part? Not many companies are leveraging its power, making it an optimal decision to start leveraging it before mainstream businesses begin hopping onto the bandwagon. Telegram empowers a personalised experience. It is a great tool for both general and specific customer inquiries like order status and detailed support. Businesses can build meaningful relationships with customers through timely and relevant messages.  

  • WeChat 

When we think about WeChat, we immediately associate it with its use in China. While it is the largest social media platform in the country, its prevalence has reached other parts of the world as well with 1263 million monthly active users. For businesses intending to use WeChat for their CRM, they can choose to create a service account. This is designed for sales and customer support, providing businesses with four broadcast messages per month along with access to WeChat Pay and API. 

  • WhatsApp

Last but not least, WhatsApp is the biggest messaging platform in the world with about 2000 million monthly users. With so many users worldwide, the organisation saw an opportunity for businesses to leverage this platform and have hence integrated several features that make it the go-to CRM solution. Whether it is WhatsApp Business or WhatsApp API, its business capabilities are completely developed to provide the best marketing and CRM experience. This is highlighted in the next part where we dive into the WhatsApp Business strategy, breaking down the different components and elements every business needs to know to execute an effective WhatsApp Business plan.

Read more about the benefits of using a centralised customer communications platform for your business in Singapore.

WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API

WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API

For businesses who are first venturing into WhatsApp integration, it may get a little confusing. There is a big decision-making process on whether you should opt for a WhatsApp Business account or a WhatsApp Business API account. This all depends on the scale and nature of your business.

  • WhatsApp Business App

More suited to smaller businesses, the WhatsApp Business App account is free. Users of this WhatsApp Business App can log in to a maximum of five devices, but only one of them can be a smartphone. This means that only one person can manage the WhatsApp messages without having a bulkier device.

Learn more: All you need to know about WhatsApp Business 

  • WhatsApp Business API

On the other hand, WhatsApp Business API is designed for larger companies. Functionalities are integrated to power communication in such a way that it connects with customers all over the world efficiently and effectively. Large amounts of messages can be received on various devices and automation is greatly supported. There is a wide range of features such as blasting messages without being blocked, reply buttons in messages, analytics with integrations, and more that can help scale businesses efficiently.

Learn more: The ultimate guide to WhatsApp Business API

  • Differences between WhatsApp Business App and WhatsApp Business API 

The difference between WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API revolves around the features involved. For instance, team inbox and ticket management. Team inbox allows different departments to gain access to numbers and customer queries from one intuitive inbox. While WhatsApp API supports this function by integrating with other platforms, WhatsApp Business does not. With regards to ticket management, this feature provides better visualisation of the CRM process, allowing teams to view customer queries and responses across the board. In this way, everybody is kept up-to-date and no queries will be left unanswered.

WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API

*Third-party WhatsApp Business API is no longer available due to Meta's policy update in June 2022.

Some additional features that are supported by WhatsApp Business API but not WhatsApp Business include notifications (abandoned carts) and chatbots. These elements, especially chatbots are key when it comes to bigger businesses where the customer base tends to be much larger.

For broadcasts, WhatsApp Business is limited to 256 recipients while the latter allows messages to be sent to 100,000 users simultaneously. However, WhatsApp Business does support WhatsApp voice calls and can be used for free in contrast to WhatsApp Business API which does not support calls and payment must be made per conversation pricing.

WhatsApp Pricing Calculator

Though it may seem like WhatsApp API is the ideal choice with its myriad of functions, it is not advisable for businesses to choose it solely for that reason. It is best to look at your business and match the features in accordance with what you require. Case in point, if your business has a smaller customer base, you might not even need a big broadcast capacity, chatbot or automation as this can be done manually, helping you to save costs. Smaller businesses can start with WhatsApp Business and then upgrade to WhatsApp Business API once their business starts taking off. 

What does WhatsApp Business API pricing model for businesses in Singapore look like? Check out our pricing guide here for details.

How WhatsApp marketing can help your business

WhatsApp goes beyond its usefulness in CRM and provides an effective platform for digital marketing as well. WhatsApp marketing is all about promoting your brand through WhatsApp. As the platform possesses features that improve visibility, enhance communication and organise workflows, greater interactivity and connection between businesses and customers can be achieved. This in turn facilitates increased brand awareness and generates greater top-of-mind recall. Here’s how WhatsApp marketing proves to be beneficial for business.

Greater privacy and security

In a highly digitalised world where cyberattacks run rampant and sensitive data are prone to compromisation, privacy and security are highly valued by many customers. As the biggest messaging platform in the world, WhatsApp is a trusted and credible platform that promises a safe and secure online environment. Messages are encrypted and sharing of data is not permitted. Furthermore, WhatsApp Business looks into their accounts to ensure that customers are communicating with a verified company.

Improved customer engagement and conversions 

With WhatsApp integration, businesses can not only respond to messages and queries quickly but also push out personalised promotional communication for enhanced customer engagement. Customer experience plays a huge part in conversions. 49% of buyers have indulged in impulse buying after receiving a personalised experience. In an increasingly mobile world, WhatsApp allows you to collaborate with customers and partners effectively to deliver the most remarkable results for your business. What this translates to are more sales and conversion rates.

Greater cost-effectiveness

Compared to out-of-home media marketing which can amount to exorbitant prices, WhatsApp marketing is much more cost-efficient, considering the reach and visibility it garners. Moreover, it is much easier than digital marketing where you may need to engage the services of a digital marketing agency to assist you with your website and ads. For businesses using WhatsApp Business API, the costs are based per conversation while those using WhatsApp Business can enjoy the benefits it brings for free!

Read more about how Nutrition Kitchen boosted sales with WhatsApp Business API through SleekFlow.

A 7-step WhatsApp marketing strategy

WhatsApp marketing only works best when you have a well-thought-out strategy and you know how to optimise the platform. Below is a quick and simple 7-step guide to help you maximise WhatsApp effectively.

 A 7-step WhatsApp marketing strategy

Step 1: Define your goals

Before even delving into using WhatsApp for marketing, you need to think about the purpose of why you are doing it and what you wish to achieve. For instance, which stage of the marketing funnel are you at? Is your goal to generate awareness for your brand or to drive conversions? Setting clear targets will help you decide how to market your campaign on WhatsApp with relevant marketing that resonates with your target audience. 

Step 2: Understand your target audience

The key to generating sales lies with your target audience, as they are the individuals who are engaging with your products. You need to know who they are, their behaviours, what their pain points are and how your product or service can mitigate or address their needs. Once you are able to do that, you can then develop relevant messaging that connects. 

Step 3: Decide between WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API

Once the planning stage has been completed, it’s time to execute. First, you need to choose between WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API. Look at your business, compare the functionalities between the WhatsApp business accounts and determine which features complement your business better. Typically, WhatsApp Business is more suited for smaller businesses while WhatsApp Business API is catered to larger ones. 

Step 4: Create your brand persona

Creating a brand persona makes your brand much more memorable. Think of your brand persona as an individual’s personality. People have certain traits they are associated with that make them stand out. Your brand should be no different. For example, Apple’s brand persona is all about creativity, innovativeness and intelligence. What about your brand? Are you fun or professional? Meticulous or laid-back? Your brand persona serves as a guide to how you communicate with your customers on WhatsApp Business. 

Step 5: Curate your contact list

When it comes to marketing, you need to have a relevant list of contacts to direct your marketing strategies and campaigns. Subscription forms and Facebook Lead Ads are a great way to build your contact list. You can also curate your list by leveraging multichannel forms that allow your customers to choose the platform they wish to receive messages from such as WhatsApp. 

Step 6: Develop quality content 

Apart from aesthetic visuals, your brand’s messaging is the component that drives persuasion. Think about what you wish to convey and remember to keep your messages short and sweet as WhatsApp is a casual, social platform and part of social CRM is to connect with your customer in a more friendly, lighthearted manner. You can pair your messaging with images, videos and even emojis to further substantiate your content.  

Step 7: Deliver great customer service

With WhatsApp, you can tend to needs and queries much more quickly and efficiently. In fact, 28% of customers expect to get a response within an hour! In a saturated sea of competitors, having great customer service can distinguish your brand from the rest. 

“Never ever compete on prices, instead compete on services and innovation.”
- Jack Ma

Case studies: brands that use WhatsApp for marketing

With a better understanding of the different social CRM platforms, how to choose between WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API and the WhatsApp marketing strategies, we can now investigate the reality of using WhatsApp by exploring brands, both overseas and local that have used the platform for marketing, how to best maximise your WhatsApp business account and this means for the future of commerce. 

Need help with multichannel integration including WhatsApp Business API? Reach out to us today.

Many brands have started to see the importance of WhatsApp CRM for their business. More than 5 million brands are actively connecting with customers through WhatsApp and 80% believe that it helps businesses to grow. Some brands that have used WhatsApp marketing to their advantage include Netflix, JioMart and SUI.

1. Netflix

Social CRM platforms Netflix

Source: Netflix

Netflix is one of the major brands using WhatsApp Business API for their marketing efforts. As WhatsApp Business API consists of a recommendation feature which sends suggestions by e-commerce website based on user activity, this is aligned with Netflix’s branding. The Netflix streaming site provides recommendations to users based on what they have been watching as well. However, users may not take the time to explore those options. With WhatsApp Business API, Netflix has been spotted leveraging the recommendation function to send account messages and suggestions to users. This is a more active approach that alerts and notifies users rather than getting users to explore related films on their own.

2. JioMart

Social CRM platforms Jio

Source: Wikipedia

Jiomart’s business model revolves around an online delivery grocery service. Customers can make their orders online and have them delivered straight to their homes. As the business flourished, JioMart needed a solution to manage the growing customer queries without scaling the number of agents. The business turned to WhatsApp API, using a third party to build a chatbot. With the chatbot in place, operations involving check order status, delivery delays, replacement requests, refunds and more were better managed. Efficiency was increased and so did customer satisfaction.

3. Concrete

Social CRM platforms Sommer

Source: Sommer Athleisure

Concrete is a homegrown Singapore brand selling fitness wear for women such as sports bras, tops and leggings. They boast carefully selected and breathable moisture-wicking fabrics that enhance the workout experience. This brand turned to WhatsApp as an e-commerce solution. Maximising the ‘carts’ feature, customers could browse through Concrete’s catalogue, chat with the business and add items to carts seamlessly. WhatsApp provided an additional and easy way for Concrete to market its products rather than having its website as the sole e-commerce platform.  

Here are more brands that used WhatsApp and Instagram marketing.   

Tips and tricks to maximise your WhatsApp Business account 

For most businesses, having a WhatsApp Business account is not enough. The right strategy must be integrated for it to be an effective venture. 

For one, it is key to know that much of the world’s population uses WhatsApp. This is a great opportunity to increase brand visibility. Create a group for your customers and polish up your WhatsApp Business profile page. Include valuable contacts such as your email, number and most importantly, website link to drive traffic to your site. 

Secondly, organise your contacts and engage your customers through WhatsApp Groups. Look through your contacts and categorise them. This can be based on their age range or spending behaviour. You can then send specific messages to certain groups to engage with them. For instance, you may have a new launch of products dedicated to younger audiences. You can push this launch with your created WhatsApp Group of Gen Zs and Millennials. 

Last but not least, ensure that your responses are quick and personalised. This is what keeps customers coming back, which builds greater loyalty. It also distinguishes your brand from another that may be selling similar products. If you are using WhatsApp Business API, consider having a chatbot to support routine enquiries. 

WhatsApp: the future of commerce

Social CRM platforms WhatsApp e-commerce platform

Today, WhatsApp is more than just a social CRM platform, it can be regarded as the future of commerce. What can be accomplished on an e-commerce website can be achieved on WhatsApp Business as well in a more seamless and convenient manner. With WhatsApp Pay going live in India in 2020 and being rolled out to more countries, it revolutionises how retail marketing will be conducted across the globe. 

COVID-19 has further accelerated the transformation of WhatsApp as a potential e-commerce platform. Contactless shopping continues to grow in demand and WhatsApp usage increased by 40% at the peak of the pandemic. As WhatsApp carries on upgrading and fine-tuning its features to be even more business-friendly, it may slowly be seen as the go-to solution for social CRM, marketing and e-commerce. After all, it is also cost-effective, convenient and safe for both businesses and customers to enjoy.  


With regard to customer service, there is no denying that social CRM is the way to go. It is best to incorporate a slew of social messaging platforms from Instagram to WeChat and have WhatsApp at the core with its growing prominence. In this way, you can reach out and engage with your customers on their platform of choice. 

Nonetheless, having multiple social CRM platforms can be difficult to manage. This is where an omnichannel system such as SleekFlow comes in handy to help you organise all your chats into one intuitive platform. It is highly recommended that your omnichannel system integrates key functions such as automation and personalisation to scale your business efficiently. 

SleekFlow is the ideal all-in-one chat solution that implements these features and more. Moreover, as an official WhatsApp Business Solution Provider (BSP), we deliver all the tools you need when it comes to the WhatsApp experience. Our goal is to create a digital landscape where engaging with customers is made as effortless as possible for businesses to drive conversions.

Looking for a way to streamline your social CRM chats? Our omnichannel platform powers the future of e-commerce with the full conversational experience across SMS, live chat on websites, and popular social and messaging platforms.

Talk to our experts to develop a powerful communication strategy for your brand.

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