Facebook-owned WhatsApp is taking the next steps towards monetization with a new option that will enable businesses on the platform to better showcase their products via the WhatsApp Business app.
Now, brands on WhatsApp will be able to utilize product catalogs in their WhatsApp Business listings, helping to provide more information about, and images of, the items that they provide.
As explained by WhatsApp:
"Catalogs are a mobile storefront for businesses to showcase and share their goods so people can easily browse and discover something they would like to buy. Previously businesses had to send product photos one at a time and repeatedly provide information — now customers can see their full catalog right within WhatsApp. This makes business owners look more professional and keeps customers engaged in the chat without having to visit a website."
The option adds to the gradually expanding business tools within WhatsApp. Back in April, WhatsApp made its Business app available on iOS, while at the time, it also noted that more than five million businesses were already using the WhatsApp Business app on Android.
Now with more than 1.5 billion active users worldwide, WhatsApp has become a key part of Facebook's larger push on private messaging, with the company's broader shift towards increased user privacy set to make WhatsApp and Messenger critical elements within its next phase of business development.
But neither WhatsApp nor Messenger offer the same advertising potential that Facebook's main app, or Instagram, does, and as such, Facebook needs to develop its advertising and business options on these tools over time, with different approaches to facilitating on platform commerce, and improving brand discovery.
A key part of that will be WhatsApp Pay - while Facebook's own Libra currency is still under a cloud in terms of how and when it will be implemented, Facebook does have other ways to facilitate on-platform buying, with WhatsApp Pay becoming a bigger part of that.
Indeed, this year, Facebook has begun its initial rollout of WhatsApp Pay in India, where the messaging app currently serves around 400 million users, while The Social Network is also in talks with multiple Indonesian digital payment firms over plans to offer WhatsApp Pay in that market as well, potentially reaching another 100 million people.
Given the dominance of WhatsApp in these markets, the addition of WhatsApp Pay could offer significant opportunities for Facebook, even if its Libra cryptocurrency play never takes flight. And as it adds in more ways for people to transfer money within the app, it makes sense that WhatsApp should also be working to develop its business tools in order to enable more consumer activity within the app.
WhatsApp's new catalog feature is being made available to businesses in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. from today, with a broader roll-out coming soon.