By Katie Griffiths

The changing face of technology is seeing a transformation in the use of messaging apps.

They are no longer simply for private chats among friends, but used by brands for online marketing.

And tech experts will tell you that in the not-too-distant future we will be using them to make our daily purchases too. Social selling will be a normal part of life.

Companies like Uber and Dominos have already introduced in-app Chatbots so consumers can hail a ride and order a pizza, simply by typing instructions into Facebook’s Messenger.

And now Yoox Net-a-Porter is set to become the first brand to start selling through WhatsApp.

The firm is currently developing technology to allow its highest spending customers to buy directly through WhatsApp.

This news comes at a time when Yoox Net-a-Porter is seeking to compete with luxury brands’ own ecommerce platforms.

Since the company already uses WhatsApp to communicate with top clients, it makes sense to expand the use of messaging to sell.

In China, 700 million users are connected to WeChat, and in many cases have their bank accounts linked to the messaging app.

But while around 92% of global luxury brands now use messaging as part of their social media marketing, a very small number use it for direct sales.

The idea of selling on WhatsApp comes out of Yoox Net-a-Porter’s need to get closer to the 2% client base who are responsible for around 40% of the company’s revenue.

These EIPs – Extremely Important People – are snapping up $7,000 Dolce and Gabanna handbags and $12,000 Oscar de la Renta gowns.

Consider that famous scene in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts' character Vivian is given free reign to go on a spending spree - but the boutique owners won't serve her.

In modern-day terms they failed to spot an EIP and an opportunity to sell.

These days, Vivian would be on her mobile, seeking out a brand which speaks to her and offers her the high fashion look she needs.

And not being present on the social media where she would choose to hang out? As she says: "Big mistake".

Which is why Yoox Net-a-Porter has paid close attention to the fact it receives more than twice the number of orders – worth more than twice the value - from mobiles than it does from desktop computers.

As well as this, WhatsApp marketing has been highly successful, with some of the biggest sales being achieved after the brand has chatted to these customers via the messaging platform.

Technology is still being tested out, and Net-a-Porter has so far not scheduled a release date or given details of how its WhatsApp marketing strategy will work in practice.

This latest trend in ecommerce marketing is seeing social media for business heading in a more exciting direction.

And no doubt the most luxurious and the best ecommerce sites will be watching closely to discover if this is a path they should follow.

 

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