WhatsApp rolls out new business directory to promote e-commerce

Instant messaging platform WhatsApp has announced the business directory to quickly find local businesses within WhatsApp, WABetainfo reported Wednesday.

“This feature may not be available to you right now, but it will be rolled out for more people later,” WABetainfo wrote.

In order to bolster e-commerce on its services, a new test has been rolled out which allows users to find shops and services through a directory in the app.

“This could be…the primary way that people start a commerce process in WhatsApp,” Matt Idema, Facebook’s vice president of business messaging, said in an interview with Reuters this week.

WhatsApp, unlike Facebook and Instagram, does not run ads in its app. Idema said previously businesses were promoting their WhatsApp numbers on packaging or websites or using Facebook ads to bring users into chats on WhatsApp.

The messaging service has increasingly courted business users, with a specialised app for small firms and an API, or type of software interface, for larger businesses to connect their systems, which generates revenue.

As online retail has continued to boom during the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has pushed in-app shopping features across its apps. In June, Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s Shops feature would expand to WhatsApp in several countries. In recent years, WhatsApp also has also launched shopping tools like product catalogues and shopping carts.

WhatsApp said the new test would include thousands of businesses in categories like food, retail and local services across certain São Paulo neighbourhoods. Idema said India and Indonesia were good next candidates to expand the feature.

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