How Retail Can Improve Customer Experience with Messaging Apps

Brick and mortar retailers, from drugstore chains to large department stores, currently face two decisive challenges. First, e-commerce is growing steadily, making it easy for customers to shop online. Second, the in-store retail market has to discover how to offer customers an innovative, contemporary experience, in order to drive customer loyalty and win new customers. In this article, we’ll show you how retail can offer better customer service with the help of messenger communication.

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How retail can use messaging apps legally and securely

Many retailers have known their customers for some time and it’s normal for them to use WhatsApp for customer communication. The problem: they use it on their private phone. By doing so, they are violating the general data protection regulation (GDPR) and WhatsApp’s general terms and conditions. To prevent this, businesses should rely on third parties like MessengerPeople. Why? First off, our solution is GDPR-compliant. We are a WhatsApp Business solution provider and the data is stored centrally on a server in Europe. For more information about this topic, please read our article on the GDPR and its effect on customer service.

Why Retailers Should Use Messaging Apps

1. Your customers, young and old, use WhatsApp & Co.

A total of 2 billion people worldwide use WhatsApp across all age groups. There are only 25 countries in the world where WhatsApp is not the leading messaging app.

2. Your customers buy more when there’s a personal touch

Messaging apps create a conversation on a personal level, similar to what customers are familiar with from department stores. Messaging enables you to provide your customers with digital, personal consulting services.

3. Good customer service, whether on-site or via messaging apps, increases customer satisfaction

Across all industries, customer satisfaction increases by an average of 33% when customers have had a positive shopping experience with the vendors. By using messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or iMessage in customer service, you can also increase customer satisfaction. According to the Washington Post, it’s even 25% higher than by phone.

Case Study: INTERSPORT Hübner

“We get between 30 and 100 incoming messages per week. Almost every request leads to a visit in one of our stores.”


“For us, interaction and direct communication are clearly in the spotlight here”


Kerstin Marci, marketing department INTERSPORT Hübner


Download the INTERSPORT Hübner Case Study now for free

Four use cases

Which scenarios are possible for retailers to successfully implement customer service via messaging apps? The following four use cases will give you ideas and inspiration.

1. Customer service via messaging apps

Your customers come visit you in-store because they appreciate personal advice. They know who to turn to if they have questions or if there are any problems with their purchased product later on. This can also be done via WhatsApp. The best part is: your customer service becomes more efficient. The personal consultation in chat doesn’t require a specific appointment or a strict schedule, which is a big advantage for customers. Compared to live chat, the advantage is that messaging apps can be used across all devices. Compared to e-mail, messaging app conversations go much faster. With regard to telephone, messaging apps have the decisive advantage of asynchronous communication. Your customer texts you when he has time and you reply when you have the right information. As a result, you can expect an increase in efficiency and productivity in customer care, because several customers can be served at the same time without any loss in quality.

Example: How PANDORA implements customer service via messaging apps

Originally, Pandora was a jewellery store in downtown Copenhagen. Today it is a company with concept stores all over the world and a multilingual online shop. The customer service via WhatsApp is a direct exchange in 1:1 chat. The services includes product advice, special campaigns for users such as advent calendars, branch information, and product availability.

2. Partially automated customer service

Your customers often ask very similar questions, whether these are about opening hours, product information, special offers. Such questions can be easily answered by a chatbot. Your salespeople are not always on duty and want to enjoy the evening after work – but chatbots can take over 24/7 customer service. For example, frequently asked questions can be answered via a FAQ-Bot. This can be built in our tool with no prior programming knowledge necessary, and quickly increases service efficiency and customer satisfaction. If the chatbot doesn’t know what to do, he passes the conversation on to his human colleague. This clearly distinguishes it from the Lidl chatbot Lia, which recently went live. The chatbot, which was implemented in Facebook Messenger, informs customers about the opening hours of their favourite shops or about the latest special offers, but it is overwhelmed with specific questions and can’t receive help from a human colleague by forwarding the request.

3 important things: if a chatbot is to support your customer service, it should

a) run on WhatsApp, because practically everyone uses the green messaging app.

b) be able to hand over the chat dialogue to you or another human colleague in customer service, in case

c) be promoted on all available channels (shops, online shop, customer service, telephone, etc.).

3. Messaging app service to drive in-store visits

Many customers research products on the internet and then go pick up the products in-store. For example, many companies create advertising campaigns offering discounts on products in their stores. Customers take up the offer and go buy the device. The digital incentive leads to the customer’s offline purchase. Once in the store, the customer may discover other products that he needs and buy them as well.

Example: How Intersport successfully combines online and offline customer service

INTERSPORT, the well-known German sports retailer, successfully improves brand loyalty in its Hübner stores in Brandenburg and Saxony through fast and personal customer service on WhatsApp. Customers can receive information about product availability reserve items in shops.

We receive between 30 and 100 inquiries per week. Almost every inquiry is followed by a visit to our stores. Kristin Marci, INTERSPORT

You can read more about the case in our exclusive and free to download case study about their innovative messaging app service. With its customer service, INTERSPORT creates significant conversion.

4. Customer service at point of sale

Your customers come to your store and search for a specific product. Your store has a wide variety of brands and products, and it’s difficult for salespeople to have information about all products. There are two possible uses for messaging apps.

a) Your customer is standing in front of the shelf and has questions about a product. He scans the QR code on the shelf. The messaging app opens and the customer enters a WhatsApp chat with a chatbot who explains how to use the product and can answer questions about it.

b) Your customer is standing in front of the shelf looking for a specific product that is currently out of stock. He contacts the salesperson to find out when the product will be available again at the store. The seller contacts his head office via WhatsApp and is able to inform the customer immediately.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use messaging app customer service, check out one of our free webinars.

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Müller drugstore and Vodafone: Two Best Practice Examples of Messaging App Customer Service for Retail

The following best practice cases show how retailers offer customer service through messaging apps to create a contemporary customer experience.

Müller drugstore: Customer service and product advice via chat within 24 hours on WhatsApp

The innovative German drugstore chain offers customer service via WhatsApp. Customers can ask about product availability for the different branches or questions about products, e.g. ingredient lists. Müller always answers within 24 hours. This fulfills an important criteria for using the WhatsApp Business API.

Vodafone: Customer service via Apple Business Chat


The telecommunication company also handles customer inquiries via Apple Business Chat. There are a variety of entry points for Apple Business Chat: the customer can access the chat when he searches for the nearest Vodafone shop in his city via Apple Maps or searches for “Vodafone” via Spotlight search. When he clicks on the shop, he sees a “message button” next to the telephone button in its profile. If he clicks on this button, he will be directed to the Messages app on his Apple device. In the chat, he speaks to Vodafone’s central customer service. 80 percent of customer questions can be answered in advance in this way. The remaining 20 percent are clarified directly in the shop, because Vodafone wants to reach customers who are loyal Apple users and are interested in a new device or are considering an upgrade.

How to offer professional messaging app customer communication in the Messenger Communication Platform

All of these scenarios can be implemented with our Messenger Communication Platform. It can be used immediately with no technology hurdles at the beginning and is browser-based. You can use it on both desktop and mobile, and with autorouting, your customer service employees will automatically be assigned requests and inquiries that fit their skills. This ensures that repeat customers also have the chance to develop a consistent relationship with certain salespeople. Finally, our Chatbot Builder helps you create easy automation opportunities, making your service even more efficient and user-friendly. You can find out more about the Messenger Communication Platform on our product page.

Have a great idea for e-commerce customer service via messaging apps and want to talk about it? Message us!