Technology for MSMEs: Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday announced the launch of a new feature Carts to double down on its push towards chat-based buying and selling of products between merchants or small businesses and customers. The instant messaging app, which enables messages from over 175 million people to WhatsApp Business accounts every day and over 3 million Indians who view a business catalogue every month, with its new shopping feature allows customers globally to select and order multiple products from a merchant in a single message. On the other hand, this “will make it simpler for businesses to keep track of order inquiries, manage requests from customers and close sales. Carts are perfect when shopping from a business where you’d buy multiple items — like a restaurant or clothing store,” the company said.
The new feature comes around a month-and-a-half after WhatsApp launched its ‘shopping button’ to ease selling for small businesses to customers within the app. The button, which resembles a storefront, provides customers access to the business’s catalogue from the chat screen apart from accessing the same from their business profile. WhatsApp, which reportedly has over 400 million users in India, had said in July this year that it has over 15 million business users every month. The Shopping Button will be launched in India later.
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The move signals WhatsApp’s intent to become the de-facto platform for businesses and customers who wish to buy and sell products within the chat environment in a seamless process. Hence, the process of decision making for purchase to selecting a product and eventually buying happens on a common platform. This is also to tap and leverage its vast user base and offer new services as add-ons to its free messaging service to boost revenues. “WhatsApp is fast becoming a store counter to discuss products and coordinate sales. Catalogs have allowed people to quickly see what’s available and helped businesses organize their chats around particular items,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.
According to The Harris Poll by the US-based research firm Harris Insights & Analytics, 81 per cent Indian adults said that messaging through a chat app, text, and others is a quick and easy way to communicate with a business. Also, 78 per cent said messaging with a business saves them time vis-à-vis calling a business while 76 per cent claimed they are more likely to do business with a company that they can contact through messaging. The results were part of the online survey carried out in the U.S., Germany, the UK, India, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia and among 8,214 adults aged 18 and older.