Build WhatsApp chatbot using NodeJS – part1

Introduction:-

WhatsApp has massive userbase of over 1.5 Billion people. That’s one of main reasons why Businesses had keen eye on WhatsApp. Until now small business have managed creating WhatsApp groups and putting manpower on the job of communicating or sharing offers ,deals or other types of customers connect initiatives. But as you can see this is labors and doesn’t scale because you easily run out of capacity.  Besides being manually activity this is hardly efficient.

WhatsApp Pilot Program:-

In 2017 WhatsApp did a pilot program where they offered limited capabilities to couple of big companies where they send out messages & files using an API that is basically simple send & receive API was offered. One such company was Book My show, Largest Movies & events ticketing platform/app in company. BMS has rolled out this features to small percentage of its use base wherein user receives their booked tickets with the QR code and other details as an image attachment. Users could then easily show it to the Agent at the movie theater who would then scan the ticket in their system using their QR code.

Another such company to which whatsapp had rolled out this feature was Make my Trip. The api that whatsapp offered allowed Make my Trip to send the booked tickets to customers who would then just show the file at the Hotel during check-in . India has been huge market with almost every person on Whatsapp.And this Pilot project proved its worth.

WhatsApp for Business API:-

WhatsApp Business API is part of the Facebook Ad and managed through Facebook Business Manager Account https://business.facebook.com

In Aug 2018, WhatsApp announced its WhatsApp for Business API product for qualifying businesses . This API is an application that needs to be setup on dedicated cloud & network infrastructure . To run your Whatsapp Instance (Nodes) you require to set up a high availability SSD Based dedicated servers for IO free operations which could cost $200 to $300 per month per instance. Read More Here About Pricing here .

Image result for whatsapp business api

This API will help Businesses programatically send shipping confirmations, appointment reminders or event tickets etc.

The project we’re going to do in this blog post series is a proof of concept & you’re free to take this idea forward & develop bots for WhatsApp . It should also be noted that WhatsApp bots require businesses to apply for verification & approval. It’s slow and restrictive process at this time. But when you look at the market base your apps & products can reach then you’ll realize that there’s no reason that why you shouldn’t be excited about building chat-bots for WhatsApp .

Proof of concept:-

Imagine we’ve a company called “MachineLearning-made-easy.com”. Now this company wishes to use WhatsApp Bot to generate invoices for its client. WhatsApp Bot should also be able to send these invoices to respective clients. So stay tuned to check this project in my next post.

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