WhatsApp launches in-app business directory test

Facebook’s messaging service, WhatsApp, on Wednesday launched a new feature to search for businesses in its app for the first time, the company said.

The test in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which allows WhatsApp users to find stores and services through an in-app directory, is the latest feature in Facebook’s push to boost e-commerce on its services.

“This could be… the main way people start a commerce process in WhatsApp,” Matt Idema, vice president of business messaging at Facebook, said in an interview this week.

WhatsApp, unlike Facebook and Instagram, does not serve ads in its app. Mr Idema said companies used to promote their WhatsApp numbers on packaging or websites or use Facebook ads to get users to chat on WhatsApp.

The messaging service is increasingly wooing business users, with a specialized application for small businesses and an API, or type of software interface, for larger companies to connect their systems, generating revenue.

As online retail continued to boom during the Covid-19 pandemic, Facebook pushed in-app shopping features to all of its apps. In June, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook’s Shops feature would be extended to WhatsApp in several countries. In recent years, WhatsApp has also launched shopping tools such as product catalogs and shopping carts.

Thousands of companies

WhatsApp said the new test would include thousands of businesses in categories such as food, retail and local services in certain neighborhoods of Sao Paulo. Mr. Idema said India and Indonesia were good next candidates to expand the feature.

The company, which faced backlash from users amid confusion over privacy updates and was fined by Ireland’s data protection regulator for breaching privacy, said said it would not know or store the location of people’s search or results through the new directory feature.

Mr. Idema did not rule out the possibility that WhatsApp could introduce in-app advertisements in the future.

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

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