News & Analysis

WhatsApp is Morphing Towards a Business Avatar 

Image source: WhatsApp

It was in September of 2017 that WhatsApp came up with a version of the messenger that would make sense for businesses. It took them another three months to launch it on Android and a couple more to get going on the iOS. However, in the next couple of years, the Facebook-owned app has been resolute in its movement towards becoming an enterprise solution. 

The latest in this series of steps is the introduction of a QR code feature that makes communicating with customers easier. Of course, the same feature was released a week ago for B2C users who could share contact information using the very same QR codes. So, what’s the big deal, one may ask? 

Quite simply it removes the need to add a new mobile number to the directory before messaging it. For example, if a user wants to contact a store or a restaurant, they previously had to manually add the  phone number of the establishment before starting the chat feature. With this new feature, those using a business account can allow customers to message them after simply scanning a QR code. 

And these businesses also get the additional option of customising their initial message once a user has scanned the QR code. So, you could either greet the new customer with standard information such as the working hours or even add specifics like the menu of a restaurant or the catalogue of products that the establishment deals in. In future, one may also get to buy stuff directly from WhatsApp, though for that to happen mandatory government clearances for payment solutions are to be in place. 

WhatsApp also announced that going forward businesses would be able to easily share catalogues via the messaging app itself. However, it may have to be a lightweight version of their brochures that one finds on official websites. Once sent via the messenger, users would be able to view them outside of the WhatsApp app itself. 

Earlier, the company had rolled out several features such as including support for up to eight people over a WhatsApp call and starting a video over a group chat with a single click. Then there are those animated sticker packs that are definitely more B2C than B2B as are the dark modes that would be available on WhatsApp for the web, which is what businesses usually use. 

In fact, the business catalogues feature makes it easy for small enterprises to actually promote stuff via the WhatsApp business groups. Imagine you waiting for a favourite coffee or drink concentrate and the business owner simply announces its arrival via WhatsApp so that you could easily order it right there. Does it mean that these businesses can operate without websites? Well, for most of the past years, they have been doing so, isn’t it? WhatsApp just made it easier for the local Kirana store! 

With more than 50 million business accounts in its kitty, Facebook and WhatsApp do know which side of their bread is buttered more. Which is why they’ve launched some of these services first in countries like India, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico, alongside the US, Germany and the UK. 

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