How WhatsApp Business is Useful for Small Business Owners

As the past couple of years witnessed a drop in data costs, WhatsApp has successfully replaced the traditional offline messaging service as the primary mode of text communication in India. Leveraging this fact, this messaging platform launched WhatsApp Business – the pilot for a dedicated mobile app exclusively for businesses – in early September 2017.

Since its launch, popular brands in India such as BookMyShow and MakeMyTrip have been using this Facebook-owned WhatsApp business strategy to connect with their target audience. Though there are many apps that cater to business users, a messaging platform like WhatsApp provides a wider scope for a larger number of businesses, be it the local grocery store, professional services, medical institutions and even the government.

Features:

  • FREE OF COST
    You read right! WhatsApp Business lets you list your business and contact your customers at absolutely no cost. With a popular messaging app enabling business owners to send service messages for free, this could mean a gradual decrease for the conventional, but costly SMS facility. This WhatsApp business plan also counters the need for SMEs to create a mobile presence by designing smartphone apps, a distinct advantage for young enterprises from a cost and complexity perspective.
  • DESCRIPTIVE BUSINESS PROFILES
    If you own a small business without a website, WhatsApp Business allows you to describe your business in detail, and you can fill in addresses, contact numbers, social media links, etc. that lets your clients know more about the nature of your operations. The app takes verification seriously; a green tick appears against the name of your business when WhatsApp Business has corroborated the details you had provided.
  • MULTIPLE MESSAGING OPTIONS
    This unique feature of customized reply settings on WhatsApp Business ensures that you are customer-ready at all times. The ‘Quick reply’ option lets you set up standard responses to frequently asked questions. To all new leads who get in touch with you, the ‘Greeting message’ can introduce your business and what makes you different. You can also frame a custom ‘Away message’ for communications during off hours or when the small business owners are busy.
  • BUSINESS ANALYTICS
    More communication also means more data, which can be leveraged to understand your customers better. WhatsApp Business offers messaging statistics, a feature that provides metrics on the number of messages that were sent, delivered and read. Using this information, you can analyze the frequency of response from your leads or customers, modify the content of quick replies and experiment on the strategy of communicating with them.
  • WHATSAPP WEB SERVICES
    WhatsApp Business supports its projection via WhatsApp Web, which lets you manage the service through your computer without the mobile app. It provides additional efficiency when interacting with clients and partners, and leaves automation possibilities open as the system grows.

Setting up WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp Business in India is present only on the Play Store; so you will need an Android smartphone to use the app. As every WhatsApp account can be linked to unique mobile numbers, you register on this WhatsApp for business by using your official business number or your office landline.

Keep these ready before you set up the WhatsApp Business app, the steps for which are given below:

1. Backup your chat data to cloud storage if you already have a number which is primarily used for business with WhatsApp. Click on Chats>>Chat Backup>>Backup to upload to the cloud.

2. Download the app from the Google Play Store, install it and then launch it by tapping on the new WhatsApp Business icon.

3. Enter your business phone number that will be used to communicate to your customers, and verify it using the SMS (for mobile phones) or ‘call me’ option (for landlines).

4. Restore the previous chat related to the number once verification is complete (from Step 1).

5. Fill the name of your business and from the chat section, tap on the menu button and head to Settings>> Business settings>> Profile. Here, you can fill in all the details that you want to share with your customers.

What’s in it for small businesses?

WhatsApp Business is extended only to small businesses, an exclusivity that budding entrepreneurs can use to their advantage. The WhatsApp for business marketing aims at streamlining and extending the reach of small businesses without making hefty investments in website development, mobile app creation, customer support, and more.

Moreover, it helps notch up the idea of personalized marketing, as you can use the app to share images of products and promotions periodically to your loyal band of customers. The WhatsApp Business app also offers credibility to small businesses – a green tick against the name of your enterprise verifies the genuineness of your services and operations, an aspect that will help a majority of SMEs to reach out to a wider audience.

There are nearly 230 million WhatsApp users in India, and the fact that everyone knows how to use this WhatsApp for business use eliminates the time required to learn the nuances of a mobile application for businesses. Thus, WhatsApp Business is a ground-breaking solution to the communication and marketing needs of small businesses. We expect the introduction of WhatsApp Payments to act as a catalyst for this business with WhatsApp option to implement artificial intelligence, data analytics and voice recognition technology to optimize it into a powerful sales and marketing channel for small businesses.

More Related Posts

Card image cap
Important GST Definitions, Terms and Glossary

The GST is ready for implementation and brings with it a slew of changes that indirect tax payers and business owners need to get familiar with. Not only are businesses required to register themselves under the GSTN, they must also reassess their business in accordance with certain new terminologies to determine how the GST impacts them. A few of the important GST definitions and the registration process are briefly specified here to help you get started.

GST terms to know 

Certain essential definitions have been mentioned under the Model GST Law, which was first released in June, 2016, and then modified and released again in November, 2016.

Business : Definition: Business refers to trade, commerce, manufacture, profession, vocation or any other similar activity, including transactions related or incidental thereto, irrespective of volume or frequency, as well as supply of goods/ services in connection with commencement or closure of business.

The definition is quite wide and seems to be borrowed from State VAT legislations. Some parts have been modified to include transactions in services.

Place of Business : Definition: (a) A place from where the business is ordinarily carried on, and includes a warehouse, a godown or any other place where a taxable person stores his goods. (b) A place where a taxable person maintains his books of account. (c) A place where a taxable person is engaged in business through an agent.

Since GST is a destination-based indirect taxation system, the place of business is a critical factor in determining the business model and taxation dues of a business that is present in many places.

Time of Supply : Definition: The time of supply is the earlier of the following dates: (a) Date of issue of invoice by the supplier or the last day by which the supplier is required to issue invoice or (b) Date of receipt of payment.

The time of supply is important since it determines the point of taxation i.e. the point in time when goods / services have been deemed to be supplied or services have been deemed to be provided and hence SGST or IGST apply.

Goods : Definition: “Goods” refers to every kind of movable property other than money and securities, but includes actionable claim, growing crops, grass and things attached to or forming part of the land which are agreed to be severed before supply or under a contract of supply.

While the term “movable property” has been mentioned, it has not been defined in the Model GST Law, and one needs to refer to the General Clauses Act 1897 for this. It does not include intangible property such as intellectual property rights (copyrights, trademarks). Also, an item needs to be movable for it to be classified as goods.

Services : Definition: “Services” means anything other than goods.

The GST Model Law clarifies that services include intangible property and actionable claims but does not include money. There are separate definitions for supply of software, works contracts and leasing transactions, even though they fall in the ambit of services. The inclusion of “actionable claim” may create confusion where financial and commercial transactions are involved.

Software includes the development, design, programming, customisation, adaptation, upgradation, enhancement, implementation of information technology software, and is treated as a service.

As far as leasing transactions are concerned, a finance lease would be considered as supply of goods, and an operating lease would be considered as a service under the Model GST Law,

Works Contract : Definition: It is an agreement for carrying on building, construction, fabrication, erection, installation, fitting out, improvement, modification, repair, renovation or commissioning of any moveable or immovable property. Work Contract has been defined as a “Service”, simplifying its taxation procedure.

Supply : The GST has three new definitions related to “Supply”, i.e., Principal Supply, Composite Supply and Mixed Supply.

1. Principal Supply
Definition: It is the supply of goods or services which constitutes the predominant element of a composite supply and to which any other supply forming part of that composite supply is ancillary and does not constitute, for the recipient an aim in itself, but a means for better enjoyment of the principal supply.
It is generally the dominant supply in a bundle of supplies or a bundle of services. For example, in a mobile phone and the charger, the mobile phone will be the principal supply.

2. Composite Supply
Definition: a supply made by a taxable person to a recipient comprising two or more supplies of goods or services, or any combination thereof, which are naturally bundled and supplied in conjunction with each other in the ordinary course of business, one of which is a principal supply.

For example, goods packed with insurance and packing material is a composite supply, with the good being the principal supply. Here, there is a main supply and supporting supply, which normally go together in the course of business and enhance the enjoyment of the main supply.

3. Mixed Supply
Definition: Two or more individual supplies of goods or services, or any combination thereof, made in conjunction with each other by a taxable person for a single price where such supply does not constitute a composite supply.

Take the case of a corporate gift pack that consists of a tie, a wallet and a pen. These are bundled in a package supplied for a single price. None of the items is dependent on the other, nor necessary to be purchased together. This is a case of a mixed supply, where the individual items, which can also be sold separately, are sold together.

Aggregate Turnover : Definition: “aggregate turnover” means the aggregate value of all taxable supplies (excluding the value of inward supplies on which tax is payable by a person on reverse charge basis), exempt supplies, exports of goods or services or both and inter-State supplies of persons having the same Permanent Account Number, to be computed on all India basis but excludes central tax, State tax, Union territory tax, integrated tax and cess.

Reverse charge tax is a system where the recipient of the supply (goods and services), i.e. the client, is liable to pay the tax. Inward supplies are input supplies used as an input for manufacturing the goods or providing the service. Tax paid on input expenses can be adjusted against tax paid on output supplies, through input tax credit. This means that it cannot be treated as a part of the aggregate turnover.

Read more about GST at our GST blog for India.

Oct 24, 2018

Card image cap
How to Get Collateral Free SME Loans for Your Business in India

The inability to provide collateral has been a major hindrance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) seeking loans to fund their working capital needs, finance their expansion or take advantage of growth opportunities. Although the government has been taking steps to provide the necessary financing to SMEs, traditional lending institutions offer generic credit products to SMEs. When these financial institutions offer collateral free business loans, they impose stringent eligibility criteria, have long loan approval processes and the requirement of a guarantor to safeguard themselves against default.

Against this backdrop of skepticism, new-age lenders like Capital Float have emerged, using cutting-edge technology and innovative products to ease the loan approval process and support SMEs to repay loans by tying repayments with their receivables. These FinTech companies, which bring together finance and technology, specialize in business loans in India for the SME segment.

Specialized Products from FinTech Lenders

FinTech lenders aim at fulfilling the credit requirements of Indian SMEs by developing innovative and customized loan products and simplifying the process of loan application.

Realizing that the main problem faced by SMEs in securing loans is their inability to provide collateral, Capital Float offers flexible, collateral-free business loans via its online platform. These loans can be used to purchase inventory, optimize cash flows or fund any other expense. Some of these loans are provided against the borrower’s bills receivables or credit card receivables. All of Capital Float’s credit products come with easy and flexible repayment options.

Choosing the Collateral Free Loan that Best Suits Your Business 

For any business loan requirement, one needs to assess the amount needed and submit an online application, along with digital copies of relevant documents. These documents may include income tax returns for a period of three years and bank statements for the last six months. The use of advanced software, with highly powerful algorithms, allows Capital Float to process the loan application and transfer the sanctioned amount to the SME in a matter of 3 days.

Related: What Makes Unsecured Business Loans Safe for Your Small Business?

Small businesses can explore a variety of loan options and choose the one that best suits their business loan requirements. Here are the things one needs to consider:

If your SME has positive monthly cash flows and needs funds for the short term, you can apply for Capital Float’s Term Finance product. One can borrow an amount ranging between ₹1 lakh to ₹1 crore, with the loan period ranging from six months to three years. Term Finance loans are disbursed within three days.

The growing popularity of online shopping has propelled the growth of ecommerce companies offering a variety of products and services. On the other hand, increasing awareness of customers, shrinking lead times and the need to manage inventory effectively have posed new challenges for SMEs. Here’s where the Online Seller Finance product works best. This innovative credit option is a short-term loan provided to e-commerce sellers who are selling their products on online platforms. These companies may be looking to raise funds for purchasing stock, diversifying their operations or taking initiatives to increase the visibility of their products. Partnerships with online marketplaces, like Amazon, PayTM, Snapdeal, Myntra, Shopclues and eBay allow Capital Float to help merchants access fast and flexible working capital funding. The loan amount is decided on the basis of the monthly sales and projected revenues of the borrower. Flexible repayment options and the availability of credit of up to two times the monthly sales of the business are some of the attractive features of Online Seller Finance.

Another attractive short-term collateral free loan option is the Pay Later Finance, which works like a revolving credit facility. A credit capacity is determined, based on the prospects of the business. The total amount is not transferred in one go. The SME has the flexibility to borrow amounts as and when business loan requirements arise. The loan amounts can be repaid over a 30-60-90 day cycle. The repayment restores the sanctioned limit, making more credit available for future requirements. Interest is charged only on the amount drawn and not on the entire credit capacity.

Businesses that receive payments via credit card transactions or point of sale (POS) machines can opt for a special financial product known as Merchant Cash Advance. Partnerships with multiple POS machine vendors such as Pine Labs, Mswipe, ICICI Merchant Services, MRL Posnet and Bijlipay have enabled Capital Float to offer swift and hassle-free business loans in India to SMEs using POS machines at their establishments. This tailor-made financial product offers loan amounts of up to 200% of the borrower’s monthly card settlement. The tenure ranges from six months to a year, and a business can raise as much as ₹1 crore.

SMEs also have the option of using their accounts receivables to raise business loans at attractive rates. With the Supply Chain Finance product, an SME can liquidate its receivables immediately into cash and use the same to fund the execution of the order or the growth and expansion of the business. A company can borrow funds ranging from as low as ₹1 lakh to as high as ₹1 crore. One also has the option to repay the loan in easy instalments or in one go in case funds become available to the business.

For SMEs seeking collateral free business loans with quick approvals and disbursal of funds, Fintech lenders are a viable option. The priority for such lenders is to not only ease the process of application and disbursement, but also help SMEs repay loans easily and continue to have credit available.

Oct 24, 2018

Card image cap
Can Fintech companies partner with Traditional Banks?

India’s growth as an economic power in Asia has been consistent in the past one decade. In addition to the contribution of larger corporations and the multinational companies that have forayed here, this economic growth is significantly supported by the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – a highly resilient and innovative sector that employees more than half of the Indian population.

The SME sector of India holds a huge potential for growth. However, the only challenge that could thwart their evolution is the lack of timely and adequate capital. A majority of the organisations in this sector operate as small entities that may lack the detailed documents or collateral required to procure loans from banks. Some of them are simply reluctant to offer their financial assets as security for the fear of losing them.

Given this lack of funds, small businesses face problems in meeting their operating expenses and are constrained from expanding their operations. Other problems include making payments on debt (owed to any other source of finance) and buying supplies to fulfil their contracts.

Financial Challagenes Faced by SMEs

A solution against such inadequacies has emerged in the form of FinTech companies that focus on financing small and medium enterprises.

The FinTech revolution has been facilitated by digital technology wherein funds are instantly provided to eligible SMEs after the evaluation of certain documents submitted online by them. As a pioneer in Fintech lending, Capital Float has a 10-minute online application processing system, followed by a three-day disbursal TAT.

The ease of borrowing from online lenders has also raised a question – are these companies a threat to the conventional lending setup established by banks?

Contrary to what is usually perceived, FinTech companies have proved to be active partners for banks and are helping them disburse more loans. They have assisted banks in identifying good customers faster and in disbursing quick credit.

Thanks to the robust growth of the economy in the last few years and the positive outlook for the manufacturing and services sectors, there is sufficient room for growth for both traditional and new age lending institutions.

Although their functioning may differ, lending decisions for both have to be guided by a good knowledge of the customer’s ability to repay the loan. Banks typically lend to individuals or businesses that have high regular income and/or the willingness to offer collateral as security. The collateral must be a financial asset that can be liquidated in case the borrower is unable to pay back. Banks refer to income tax returns, credit bureau scores and operational history of the concerned applicant.

In comparison, and driven by their intent to know their customers better, peer-to-peer lending companies employ non-conventional data sources for underwriting loans to individuals. As these companies are in the private sector, they are not fraught by a levy of formal regulations in evaluating clients for funds. They use multiple data points, including information extracted from new age technology such as big data analytics, to assess creditworthiness. In addition, they offer unsecured loans that do not require applicants to pledge any of their assets. These companies use a streamlined underwriting process along with risk management. Their work is characterised by extensive use of sophisticated technology and lower operating costs.

As the business of FinTech lending grows, banks also acknowledge that their customers today are technology savvy, and they are looking at ways where collaborations with online lenders can help them serve their own customers better. Because of their success in the credit market, FinTech companies have proved that this can be done without operational or regulatory risk to the lender.

Since 2015, the digital lending industry has undergone significant changes, and chief among these is the shift towards a cashless system. The promotion of cashless technologies – digital wallets, Internet banking and mobile-based point of sale – has reshaped the financial sector. Later, demonetisation became a major factor that popularized the concept of online lending.

As a positive development, banks are now looking at online lenders as partners instead of as competitors in the market. Some banks have made arrangements where they, in return for a small fee, refer customers to p2p lending platforms that provide unsecured loans that not offered by banks. Through such a program, they facilitate loans for businesses that deserve to get funds but cannot procure them from banks due to long-established, inflexible rules.

Some banks are part of programs that let them use a FinTech organisation’s technology to provide small business loans. These loans are retained on the bank’s own books, but the FinTech company’s platform is used to approve and service them. The banks see this as an opportunity to offer a product they generally do not have on their portfolio but (by seeking the support of a peer-to-peer lender), it helps them retain precious client relationships.

Banks have large balance sheets that they can use to provide loans and cater to promising start-ups and SMEs with a consistent growth rate. However, their conventional underwriting practices have deterred them from promoting some SME segments. Conversely, the government has now highlighted SME as a priority sector in the economic development of India. Therefore, the banks have to meet their new business lending targets without incurring huge costs.

The credit gap in the market can be closed with a fruitful relationship between banks and peer-to-peer lending companies. Capital Float has custom-made loan products and fine-tuned technology to help banks achieve their goals. It can help them reach out to businesses in need, and banks can then use their financial strength to service them.

New age financial technology has transformed the way consumers, and businesses, borrow and spend money. The aim of FinTech lending is to enhance the convenience of financial services and bridge the gap between demand and supply of small business loans. To help their customers, banks can effectively work alongside peer-to-peer lenders instead of competing with them.

Oct 24, 2018