As WhatsApp for Business gathers steam in India, conversational AI unicorn Gupshup is looking to offer pre-created templates or features packaged for different business needs, depending on the industries and use cases. “Messaging apps offering end-to-end commerce will soon become a major trend,” Beerud Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, Gupshup told BusinessLine.

Rightly so, with businesses like Upstox and Uber now letting customers open a Demat account to apply for IPOs and booking a cab over WhatsApp — all without needing to open or download a separate app.

The add-on features of Gupshup will come with automated back-end technology to handle customer interactions and queries, without human intervention, Sheth said. Gupshup has been one of the largest providers of business connectivity and bots over WhatsApp in India. The new offering will be available not just in India, but also other geographies like Brazil, Mexico, Africa and the Middle East, where the company has been active.

Pre-creating templates

“We are trying to pre-create some of these templates and journeys, which businesses can deploy quickly. This also makes it easier for us as well, as we don’t have to do custom develop for everyone. Even though every business is different, they have similar use cases. Wherever we can find patterns, we are creating these packages targeting different verticals and requirements,” Sheth said.

The templates and packages will further cater to the services needed by the business, such as commerce, customer support or just for marketing. For instance, a kirana shop will need a catalogue, a restaurant would need a menu, a salon would need an appointment booking feature, and a clothing store would need the ability for conversation while shopping.

Gupshup’s clients in India include Oyo, Ola, Flipkart, BYJU’s, Zomato, Paytm, Citibank, ICICI Bank, Reliance Jio and LinkedIn, to name a few.

“This is going to be a much bigger trend. WhatsApp is doing great work in terms of adding features to enable commerce. Recently, they added commerce capabilities like a catalogue of products and a shopping cart. There’s a lot of infrastructure work going on, and it’s going to be a long-term road map for WhatsApp,” Sheth said.

Messaging apps rule

Sheth believes similar to the trend in China, of one messaging app becoming a super app for all needs like WeChat, India will soon see a similar trend. Messaging apps anyway see way more engagement on a daily basis than any particular banking, travel or entertainment app.

“WhatsApp is not going to be the last one. I can guarantee you that, one month from now, we’ll be talking about Instagram doing the same thing. Messaging apps are getting richer and businesses are building chatbots and conversational experiences over these apps. And depending on what they are catering to, users can pick the messaging app they prefer,” he added.

For instance, if a user following a fashion influencer on Instagram liked a particular outfit they are wearing, the user will be able to shop for the trends immediately, without having to leave the app.

He, however, adds a caveat, saying, “WhatsApp is also conscious that their app should not be overrun by a whole bunch of business services. WhatsApp is going to be very careful about allowing only a few high engagement businesses.”

And at the same time, given that the back-end data and conversations will still remain with the businesses and encrypted between them and customers; and not in control of WhatsApp, they will be able to provide more personalised experiences without being too dependent on the messaging app.

Separately, WhatsApp in India has been working towards providing customer facing digital store fronts to local kiranas and MSMEs. It also partnered with top banks like SBI and HDFC Bank and small finance banks like Equitas Small Finance Bank and AU Small Finance Bank for various services.