How COVID-19 became a game changer for food businesses on Whatsapp

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Artinci is a young homegrown Bengaluru based brand that has been around since 2017. They make clean labels and natural ice creams, cakes and cookies and they never thought of opening a physical shop, relying on online food delivery aggregators, through their own website, communicating about their business through Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. According to Aarti Laxman Rastogi, Founder Articini, “Covid-19 induced lockdown in the peak summer of 2020 gave Artinci more visibility on the online platforms, as we were functioning and delivering our desserts and snacks throughout the lockdown, when many businesses were unable to. We used WhatsApp during the summer of 2020 to communicate our freshly made ice cream batches to various apartment communities in Bangalore and took orders directly on our WhatsApp number.”

Sneha Sirivara of Sambhar Stories shares a similar saga, “As a child, I always dreamt of starting a business venture. Little did I know that the dream would be a reality until I started working on Sambar Stories. The idea struck me when my relatives living away from home were finding it difficult to find good quality, regularly used masala powders. This eventually led to the idea of delivering traditional Sambar & other spice powders to people all over India by starting an online store. WhatsApp has been our main channel of communication with our customers. The number of enquiries we have been receiving through WhatsApp during these times has increased tremendously. Covid-19 affected our business in a positive way. Online shopping especially given that we are in the food industry has seen a rise and a lot of people are preferring the convenience of shopping and receiving the products at the comfort of their home. ”

Uncertainty and fear during the initial phase of COVID-19 induced lockdown reduced our needs to bare necessities. The only things that kept us sane during those unprecedented times was the lure of good homemade food and social media. While several businesses were starving and dying a slow death, there was a certain community that got a fresh lease of life during this period. Small food businesses, among others were the ones that saw a spurt of activity like never before, during lockdown. These businesses did not have a physical presence in the market and they thrived on online orders placed via Whatsapp.

Mehal Kejriwal, Co-Founder Happy Milk shares, “We started with the whole purpose to fight the dangerous adulteration happening in the industry. To make the best quality milk we brought in a team of highly professional Israelies and a German company by the name GEA who set up world class technology and knowhow at our farm. Most importantly they guided us in growing extremely high quality and organic feed for our cows. During the pandemic demand for Happy Milk products grew by multifolds as people were looking for healthier options that would help their immunity. Our client base is people who are 28 years above. Their preferred app and mode of communication has always been WhatsApp.”

Creating a Business Profile on Whatsapp lets businesses add important company details to their profile, which helps create a formal presence, feel professional and assure customers that they are interacting with a legitimate business. With the app’s messaging tools, businesses can quickly send information such as their catalog to get the conversation going. With Catalog, businesses can create a free mobile storefront to showcase their goods or services and customers can easily browse and discover things they might like to buy. In fact, more than 40 million people view a business catalog on WhatsApp each month.

No wonder we are living in different times now, when to be successful, one needs to have a strong social network, good quality product for sale and not just a brick and mortar structure to showcase their goods. It is a win win scenario for both the seller and the customer as the cost associated with a physical structure is not borne by either.

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