Shortly after the WhatsApp Business app was released, Facebook opened access to the WhatsApp API with medium and large business needs in mind.
While the differences are clear for developers, non-technical people have a difficult time with the differences between the WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API.
If you’re struggling with the differences, keep reading to know the right one for you.
What is the WhatsApp Business app?
WhatsApp Business is a free to download app available on Android and iPhone, and is built with the small business owner in mind.
It was created to solve an untapped need in the market. Businesses were using WhatsApp to communicate with customers but the app didn’t have the right features to do so effectively.
The WhatsApp Business app solved their problems and helped business owners create complete business profiles, display working hours, showcase their product catalog, link back to their website and even set up automated welcome and away messages.
What is the WhatsApp Business API?
The WhatsApp Business API was created with the needs of medium to large businesses in mind and can be accessed by requesting access from WhatsApp or by signing up with an API provider.
The API was launched after WhatsApp realized that businesses with larger teams were unable to leverage the Business app due to the 2 active sessions limitation.
The WhatsApp Business API allows developers to build tools that remove these limitations and add features to extend the functionality of WhatsApp. The API is extremely flexible and the features are only limited by the tool businesses integrate with or create.
WhatsApp Business App vs WhatsApp Business API - What are the differences?
Before diving deeper into the discussion, let me give you a quick summary of the differences between the Business App and the Whatsapp API.
What is the difference between the Whatsapp business app and the WhatsApp Business API?
The WhatsApp Business app is a standalone mobile app for small businesses that have fewer customer queries. The WhatsApp Business API caters to the needs of large businesses that have support teams and handle high volumes of customer messages.
Features of the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business API
Is it worth adding WhatsApp to your overwhelming support toolkit? Definitely! WhatsApp comes up at the top of the list of messaging apps with over 2 billion monthly active users. This is higher than Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
So being where your customers are, is always good for your business. Take a look at some of the benefits of using the WhatsApp Business app and the API for your ecommerce store.
WhatsApp Business App features that make 1-to-1 customer conversations easier
WhatsApp Business app is free to download and use. It is built with small business owners in mind.
The app lets you connect with your customers, showcase your products and services, and answer their questions throughout their shopping journey.
Here are 6 features of the WhatsApp Business app that make communication easier:
1. Business profile to help customers identify your store
Add a logo, a short description, and your business website to your business account so your customers can easily know who they’re talking to.
2. Display business hours so customers know when you’re active
Showing your business hours lets your customers know when you’re available for orders and customer service and when they may have to wait for a response on their query.
3. Show your product catalog to make browsing and ordering products easier
Set up a product catalog and allow customers to browse through your products and services. They can directly highlight a product and ask you to place an order for them. The payment can be completed through the use of the WhatsApp Pay feature within the business app.
4. Set automated welcome and away messages for instant responses to customers
WhatsApp Business app allows you to create a welcome message that is sent when a customer messages you for the first time. An away message can be set to be sent when a customer sends a query off the business hours.
5. Quick replies to answer repetitive questions easily
A lot of queries and responses are repetitive. With quick replies, you can save your common responses and quickly by using /<quick reply name>.
6. Labels to tag customers with for easier management
Tag customers who have paid, or have a pending payment, your regular customers, and more. Create custom tags to help you identify your customers and separate them into categories so you don’t send an irrelevant message to them.
WhatsApp Business API features that help you scale customer support
The WhatsApp Business API is a pay-per-use product for medium to large businesses. It integrates with your existing ecommerce customer support tools and allows your entire team to answer customer queries from a single WhatsApp Business number.
Alternatively, you can choose from the partner directory provided by Facebook and choose a service provider that fits best with your needs. Do note however that some of these service providers would need technical expertise to be implemented correctly.
Getting down to brass tacks, let’s look at the most important features of a WhatsApp Business API.
1. Business Profile with a potential verified green tick
Similar to the WhatsApp Business app, you can create a WhatsApp Business profile with the API. You can add details like your business name, description, and website to the business profile.
Additionally, API users can get a verified green tick. For this, you need to submit your business details to Facebook for verification. If you meet the verification criteria, your business profile picture starts displaying a green tick which helps your business profile stand out as credible to WhatsApp users.
An added benefit is that users can see your business name even if you aren’t in their contact list since Facebook has verified your Business.
2. Create chatbots and conversation flows
With the API, your developers can leverage NLP to respond to customer queries instantaneously. The automation capabilities are only limited to your imagination – think of any use-case that can benefit your business and you can create it through WhatsApp’s Business API with the help of a good developer.
Besides that, you can also create interactive chat bots that send messages with embedded buttons for common queries. This increases engagement with the bot, results in faster resolutions to customers, and reduces the workload of your customer support team.
3. Allow unlimited team members to support customers
Once the API is integrated with a customer support tool, you’re no longer limited to how many users can use the account at a time. Create individual support accounts for each of your team members and allow them to answer customers without ever sharing the main account credentials.
4. Connect the API with your booking and POS systems
Provide instant order and payment confirmations on WhatsApp by integrating with your backend systems. You don’t need to be limited to email/SMS when most of your users are active & engaging on WhatsApp.
Also, because Facebook ensures that the API isn’t abused, customers aren’t going to be bombarded with spam messages from thousands of businesses and hence are more likely to respond/stay active.
True benefits of using WhatsApp for your store’s customer support
One of the major benefits that we’ve seen with businesses using WhatsApp is increased trust.
Because Facebook technically forces businesses to resolve customer queries within 24 hours, customers receive much faster responses that delights them turning them into repeat customers and eventually brand evangelists.
After adding WhatsApp to your store’s support channels, you get:
- Increased opt-ins: WhatsApp is a daily-driver and users are more likely to say yes to receive updates on their WhatsApp number
- Off-the-charts engagement: Users on WhatsApp display 1.5x more activity compared to Facebook messenger and even Instagram! The major reason is that they send and receive messages only to those they know. As such, if you’re an ecommerce business, you’ll see engagement numbers that will skew the averages for you!
- Faster resolutions, happier customers: Because of Facebook’s 24-hour restrictions on responses from the API, businesses need to respond quickly and this results in happier customers who stay loyal
- Better conversions with interactive messages: WhatsApp displays a higher message-to-conversation ratio than any other mediums due to the activity levels of its users.
- Increased customer retention: Customers stick around with you because you offer quicker resolutions, good after-sales service, and they can connect with you whenever required.
- Improved brand visibility: Very few marketing mediums allow you to be visible perpetually. With WhatsApp, you’re now in their chat and contact lists and they’ll see you every time they scroll through their chat history or look for contacts.
Which one should you choose between the WhatsApp Business App vs the Business API?
Now the final question is - which WhatsApp product is the better choice for you. Here are two pointers that will help you make the choice.
- WhatsApp Business App: You’re just starting and acquiring customers. Most of your customers message you on WhatsApp and you’re the only one answering their queries. You receive ~20 messages per day. And you aren’t planning on hiring a dedicated person for customer support anytime soon.
- WhatsApp Business API Provider: Your business is booming and regularly gaining new customers through referrals and other marketing. You receive customer messages on WhatsApp but you can no longer handle them alone. You have to answer more than 50 messages a day on WhatsApp. Your business roadmap already includes hiring a customer support person.
- Shared WhatsApp Business Inbox for Teams: You not only receive messages from WhatsApp but also other channels like Emails, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Time is wasted when the same customer messages from different places and you end up responding twice. Your team members have to keep track of and switch between multiple tabs just to ensure no customer is left unanswered.
The choice between the WhatsApp Business App and the WhatsApp Business API completely depends on the stage your ecommerce business is in.
If you’ve already decided to go for the API and need a tool that connects multiple communication channels in one, try DelightChat to decide if we fit your business needs.