Popular food delivery service Deliveroo managed to bring WhatsApp notifications to customers in just a few weeks thanks to the messaging API specialists Twilio.
The Silicon Valley company provides off-the-shelf messaging APIs for developers at companies like Uber and Airbnb to facilitate in-app communication - be that text, video or telephony - between, say, drivers and riders, without exposing the underlying phone numbers.
Twilio announced on 1 August that it is adding WhatsApp to its messaging API, giving developers a scalable method to connect with their customers via the channel. This comes on the heels of WhatsApp launching a business programme to open up the platform for approved companies to communicate with their customers using the channel.
Speaking at the time of the announcement Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson said: "New channels like WhatsApp provide rich experiences for end users interacting with developers and their applications around the world.
"We're excited to provide the most expansive set of messaging experiences to billions of end users, all via one easy to use API. We can't wait to see what developers build."
The whole value proposition of Twilio is to ease the adoption of these channels, as more and more customers expect to be able to interact with companies through a wide variety of digital channels. Before Twilio this would involve a lot of developer hours to configure these channels. Now the hosting, managing and scaling of a WhatsApp is all take care of by the Twilio messaging API.
Speaking to Computerworld UK by phone Aimee Ruddy, a product manager at Deliveroo, explained: "The entire process was quite seamless and Twilio has a great set of APIs our developers like using."
Deliveroo is one of the first brands to leverage Twilio's WhatsApp integration. Ruddy said that Deliveroo had wanted to give customers the option of delivery notifications via WhatsApp for six months or so, and that when Twilio announced an early access programme for a WhatsApp API it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get started. From the scoping stage to launching, the integration took just two and a half weeks.
As a part of the limited access launch, WhatsApp requires approval for all brands to provision their business profile. Customers can begin testing applications via Twilio’s Sandbox for WhatsApp immediately, then, when they are ready for production they can request access for a WhatsApp Business profile via the Twilio console.
Twilio also provides full documentation and libraries, reporting, GDPR compliance as standard, a debugger tool, audit controls, single sign-on and a 99.999% uptime commitment.
As an early access partner Deliveroo did find that "some stuff might not be as well documented, so you go back and ask questions, but you expect that," explained Ruddy. "It works in a way that follows existing Twilio processes through that SMS API."
Next Deliveroo wants to expand the uses for WhatsApp from just order notifications to more two-way dialogue with its customer service agents.
"We want customers to be in channels that work for them and not to force them down certain channels," Ruddy said. "Some prefer Facebook Messenger, others ring us and some customers contact us on social channels. One of the advantages of Twilio is it makes it easier to scale and bring these channels into existing workflows."