Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled new updates being rolled out on WhatsApp to enable people to find businesses on WhatsApp, message them and complete purchases, all without leaving the messaging application.
Speaking at the first ever WhatsApp Business Summit in Brazil Thursday, Zuckerberg said, “Wherever you go in the world, people are crazy about WhatsApp, but that’s especially true here in Brazil. The creativity here is really inspiring. This is one of the only countries where I’ve heard of people opening bank accounts, buying cars and ordering dinner, all on WhatsApp. We want to make it easier for people to get more done on WhatsApp. Part of that is building better ways to engage with businesses. And while millions of businesses in Brazil use it for chat, we haven’t made it easy to discover businesses or buy from them, so people end up having to use work-arounds.”
The updates detailed below are rolling out Thursday in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico and the U.K., with people in Brazil also gaining the ability to browse categories of small businesses in their neighborhood.
In an effort to eliminate the need for people to search for the phone numbers of businesses and type those numbers into their contacts, WhatsApp users in the markets mentioned above can now search for businesses in the app either by name or category, such as banking or travel.
WhatsApp said in a blog post Thursday, “We’ve built business search in a way that preserves people’s privacy. What you search for is processed in a way that cannot be linked back to your account.”
Once people discover the business they are looking for, they can ask product questions, browse goods and services and add items to a cart so that the business knows what they want to buy, and WhatsApp said businesses that have joined the platform recently have enabled actions such as opening a bank account, purchasing a metro ticket and ordering groceries.
In September, WhatsApp teamed up with Jio Platforms in India to roll out its first end-to-end shopping experience with ecommerce company JioMart, a joint venture between Jio Platforms and Reliance Industries.
This seamless checkout experience—which lets people add products to their cart and pay to complete purchases with their credit or debit card, all within WhatsApp—is being tested with multiple payment partners in Brazil.
Zuckerberg said at the event, “You can easily start a chat with a business and, if you want to shop and buy something from them, you should be able to do it right there in the chat, too. A number of partners are actively testing payments with us so that we can bring this capability to more people and businesses in Brazil very soon. If you run a business in Brazil, that means people will be able to find you, contact you and purchase from you, all in one WhatsApp chat, and we’re working to bring this experience to more countries in the coming months, too. This is the next step for business messaging, and I’m looking forward to hearing about the opportunities this unlocks for all of you.”