WhatsApp testing in-app business directory feature to brings shops, services info to users

By: |
September 16, 2021 12:43 PM

Facebook Vice President of Business Messaging Matt Idema said this new feature could be the primary way that people begin a commerce process on the app.

WhatsApp shoppingUnlike Instagram and Facebook, WhatsApp does not run advertisements on the app

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp is testing a new feature that would enable users to search for businesses within the app, Reuters reported.

The feature would allow WhatsApp users search for services and shops through an in-app directory and is the company’s latest effort to bolster its e-commerce offering. The test is being conducted in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Facebook Vice President of Business Messaging Matt Idema said this new feature could be the primary way that people begin a commerce process on the app.

Unlike Instagram and Facebook, WhatsApp does not run advertisements on the app. Idema said businesses were earlier limited to promoting their WhatsApp numbers through Facebook ads, websites or packaging.

WhatsApp has increasingly moved to court business users in recent years. It has a specialised app for small companies and an API for larger businesses.

As online shopping witnessed a boom during the pandemic, the social media giant has pushed in-app purchases on its platforms. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in June that the Shops feature would be expanded to WhatsApp in a few countries. WhatsApp itself has launched shopping tools such as shopping carts and product catalogues in recent years.

WhatsApp will include thousands of businesses across categories such as retail, food, and local services in certain São Paulo neighbourhoods in the test. According to Idema, Indonesia and India were good next candidates for the feature to be expanded in the future.

The company has recently faced backlash from users amid confusion over its privacy policy updates. It was also slapped a fine by the Irish data protection regulator following breaches of privacy. In order to assuage those concerns, WhatsApp said it would not know or store the location search or results.

Idema also refused to rule out the possibility of introducing in-app ads in WhatsApp in the future.

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