On January 7, far from resigning ourselves to close the GAP store in Barcelona, but aware of the importance of respecting the measures taken by the Generalitat, we decided to open a new customer service and sales channel, WhatsApp Business (WAB). Grup Galceran is a company that has always been close to customers and brands, and this was a great opportunity to learn a little more about the fascinating world of retail and delve into omnichannel. Today, 3 months after that closure, and with the store running again, we want to share what for us have been the key points of this experience:
Way of communicating and customer trust
Dealing with the customer in the store has always been a priority for Grup Galceran, therefore on WAB should be the same. The new channel demanded differences with face-to-face treatment. More informal but just as respectful and close, allowing you to take the initiative a little further than in the physical channel. The use of emoticons helped to connect with the client and provided energy and motivated the conversation.
We immediately realized that the preset messages or shortcuts are only effective to indicate formalities (hours, conditions or forms of payment), but not to solve doubts about products. Customers want a human interlocutor with whom to build trust, especially due to lack of knowledge as a sales channel.
Service offered and customer behavior
We quickly understood that like in our physical stores, there are two types of customers; the one that closed the purchase quickly (average of 30 minutes), or the one that invested more than a day to buy. Normally the behavior of the second was due to the fact that he was looking for other brands or sales channels, but we also realized that conversations are resumed when the customer had time or need.
We also detected that people compared with other GAP online sales channels and asked us about doubts or understand the product. As brand ambassadors we attended to these inquiries and we liked receiving feedback. And although we did not close the conversion, seeing the growing interest in the brand in Spain encouraged us.
It should be noted that the service we offer is with postage included to mainland Spain, with a free size change option if the client wishes. But the carriage from home to the store must be assumed by the customer and perhaps that is why we receive few returns.
Surprisingly, the top-selling categories were children's categories, and that helped to have less return rate. The client wanted to make sure of the size and that is why we enabled detailed templates in the application catalog.
Currently the service continues to work, its activity has decreased due to the opening of stores, but we continue to receive orders from people who live outside of Barcelona, motivated by the good reviews and the service offered. In the future, with new store openings and a possible e-commerce, we will rethink the sales service, using the application for questions, inquiries and product reservations.
Definitely WhatsApp is a very useful tool for those companies that are not yet omnichannel or want to test open an e-commerce with guarantees. But it is not valid for any volume of business due to its natural limitations, let's not forget that it is an App conceived as a Chat, not as a sales channel.
If the intention of Facebook, owner of WAB, is that this service is optimized for large brands, the catalog must be a priority for improvement. We are aware that WAB is not an e-commerce, but facilitating the creation of folders to host categories and key products would help the consumer to understand better the purchase possibilities, prices and featured products.
The impossibility of having WAB installed with the same number on different devices greatly limits the number of simultaneous conversations. So it is an important handicap when it comes to providing optimal service.
We recommend this service as it opens an important window to customer service, especially in these moments of uncertainty where the regional closure prevents us from the mobility.