WhatsApp is testing an in-app business directory that lets users chat directly with businesses

Source: Unsplash/Dmitri Karastelev.

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has begun testing a new business directory that will allow users to search and interact directly with small businesses within the app.

The feature is being rolled out to thousands of businesses in São Paulo, Brazil, and is expected to expand to other countries, with India and Indonesia suggested to be among the next territories to gain access to the feature.

WhatsApp’s business directory will allow users to search for nearby businesses, such as restaurants, retail and service businesses, and then start a chat with them within the app.

Source: WhatsApp.

In an interview with ReutersFacebook vice president of business messaging Matt Idema said the new directory could become “the primary way people start a commerce process in WhatsApp.”

Idema said companies are already using WhatsApp to connect with customers informally, including sharing their WhatsApp numbers on websites and packaging or promoting WhatsApp chats through ads on Facebook.

It’s the latest in a series of moves by Facebook to improve the e-commerce capabilities of WhatsApp, which the company says sees more than 175 million people worldwide using its service to message people. businesses every day.

WhatsApp already has a small business app, which it launched in 2018, and larger businesses can use an API to integrate with the platform. The company said the new business directory may be added to both in the future.

And while it doesn’t currently offer in-app advertising, Idema also suggested that might change in the future.

“There’s definitely a lane on ads, which is Facebook’s core business model, which I think in the long run, in one form or another, will be part of WhatsApp’s business model,” he said. he declares.

WhatsApp has also launched shopping tools including product catalogs and shopping carts, and Facebook has previously said its Shops feature will also be added to the WhatsApp platform in a number of countries.

WhatsApp said it would not collect or store users’ search result details using the new directory, which The edge the reports come after there was backlash against an update to WhatsApp’s privacy policy earlier this year.

According to WhatsApp’s website, to use the new feature, businesses in São Paulo will need to download the most recent version of the app and then provide their business name, profile picture, address, location, category, and their hours of operation, as well as a description of the business and its CNPJ number, which signifies a license to operate in the area.

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