The test in Sao Paulo, which allows WhatsApp users to find stores and services in a directory within the app, is the latest feature in Facebook’s attempt to bolster e-commerce in its services
WhatsApp, the messaging service Facebook, launched on Wednesday a new feature that makes it possible to find companies within the application, the company said Reuters.
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The test in Sao Paulo, which allows WhatsApp users to find stores and services in a directory within the app, is the latest feature in Facebook’s attempt to beef up e-commerce in its services.
“This could be… the main way people start a business process on WhatsApp,” said Matt Idema, vice president of corporate messaging, in an interview.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram, WhatsApp does not display ads in your app. Idema had previously said that companies were promoting their Whatsapp numbers on packages or websites or using Facebook ads to drive users to WhatsApp chats.
WhatsApp is increasingly trying to attract business users, with a specialized application for small businesses and an API, a type of interface software, for larger businesses to connect to its system and generate revenue.
As online retailers grew during the pandemic, Facebook has rolled out shopping capabilities within its apps. In June, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s Shops feature would be expanded to WhatsApp in multiple countries. In recent years, WhatsApp has also launched shopping tools such as product catalogs and shopping carts.
WhatsApp said the new test will include thousands of companies in sectors such as food, retail and local services in certain neighborhoods of Sao Paulo. Idema said India and Indonesia are good next candidates to expand the resource.
The company, criticized by users amid confusion over privacy updates and fined by Ireland’s data regulator for privacy breaches, said it will not know or store the location of people’s searches or results with the new feature.
Idema did not rule out the possibility of WhatsApp introducing ads within the app in the future.
“There is definitely an ad route, which is Facebook’s core business model, which in the long run I believe will be part of the WhatsApp business model,” he said. WhatsApp says about a million advertisers currently use Facebook and Instagram “click to go WhatsApp” ads to send users to the messaging service.
Idema said Whatsapp, which Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014 but which has been slow to monetize its resources, is also excited about ad-free models like building software to help businesses manage their services in Facebook apps.