While Facebook is slowly rolling out its new Shops feature on both Facebook and Instagram, the company is also taking the next steps into eCommerce within WhatsApp, as it looks for ways to monetize the app's 2 billion active users.
And this week, WhatsApp's added two new features to help brands better promote their presence on the platform.
First off, WhatsApp's adding new QR codes for businesses:
As you can see here, QR codes offer a simple way to help connect WhatsApp users with your WhatsApp presence, and start a message thread direct from the QR code scan.
As explained by WhatsApp:
"QR codes are a digital front door that make opening a chat with a business as easy as possible. Previously when people came across an interesting business, they had to add its WhatsApp number to their contacts, one number at a time. Now, people simply can scan the QR code a business displays on its storefront, product packaging or receipt to initiate a chat."
QR codes are available in several social apps, including both Messenger and Instagram, but they've never really become a key connective tool in Western markets, despite their popularity in some Asian nations. That said, maybe the use case is slightly different on WhatsApp - as noted here, discovery on WhatsApp is more limited than in other apps, which could mean that a simple, QR code option could be a much easier way to facilitate direct links to your businesses presence.
Put your WhatsApp QR code on packaging, product tags, promotional material, and it could be a good way to get more users to connect.
In addition to this, WhatsApp's also adding new catalog links to help promote your product listings within the app.
As per WhatsApp:
"Catalogs allow businesses to showcase and share the goods or services they offer, which can help them close sales. Since launching last year, catalogs have become a popular way for people to engage with a business on WhatsApp. In fact, more than 40 million people view a business catalog on WhatsApp each month."
As you can see here, catalog listings are a basic overview of your products within WhatsApp. And now, WhatsApp will provide shareable links for catalogs, as well as for individual products, which will make it easier for people to share with their friends and connections.
"If people want to share a catalog or item they find with friends or family, they can simply copy the link and send it on WhatsApp or other places as well."
That seems like a fairly basic offering, but the benefits could be significant, providing another way for users to discuss and share your business and product listings within the app.
As noted, these are the latest steps in WhatsApp's push into eCommerce, and expanding its overall business appeal and utility. WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform in many regions, and Facebook is slowly, but surely, working out new ways to expand its use case, and ideally, evolve the app into a key business connective tool as well, in order to increase its revenue generation capacity.
Facebook has had to approach WhatsApp, and Messenger, differently in this respect, because there are fewer opportunities for advertising, given the interruptive nature of in-stream promotions in messaging threads. With WhatsApp, Facebook has been especially focused on expanding the app's use case in major usage regions like Brazil and India, with the addition of WhatsApp Pay in Brazil (which has since been blocked) and advanced shopping options for Indian users.
Those initiatives point to the next level for WhatsApp, and while Facebook still has a way to go to build those more advanced connection streams, if it can get them right, they'll provide significant revenue opportunities for the company, while also making WhatsApp into a key tool for businesses in these regions.
Adding new connection options is another small step in this process - and with 50 million people now using the WhatsApp Business app, it's not hard to see the major potential on this front.
Both QR codes for businesses and catalog links are available to all businesses, globally, using the WhatsApp Business app, from today.