Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg gave a keynote presentation at the F8 Conference where he revealed that Facebook-owned WhatsApp is moving toward hosting web shops where customers can browse a store’s products and make purchases. This may represent a way to move beyond the advertising model by becoming an eCommerce platform.
WhatsApp Business is currently a business messaging app. Businesses use it to communicate with customers. A business can also create a profile that has basic information such as hours, location, and direction.
A helpful automated response system can streamline customer communication. The ability to add labels to customers to identify their needs makes it a very bare bones customer relationship management app (CRM). This is all going to change.
WhatsApp Product Catalogs
What Mark Zuckerberg announced is a dramatic expansion to the WhatsApp Business app, with a feature called, Product Catalogs.
Zuckerberg was light on details. However judging by the fact that he followed up by showing someone paying for goods with WhatsApp, it’s likely that the WhatsApp Business Product Catalogs will feature fully functioning stores where customers can not only browse products but purchase them, too.
Here is Zuckerberg’s announcement:
“WhatsApp Business is also a big focus. Within a year millions of small businesses around the world are using this to communicate privately with their customers.
And now we’re launching a new feature for this, Product Catalogs. So you’re gonna be able to easily see what is available from a business.
And now this is going to be especially important for all of the small businesses out there that don’t have a web presence and that are increasingly using private social platforms as their main way of interacting with their customers.”
WhatsApp Payment System
Mark Zuckerberg also announced a new payment service that will allow people to send money to each other. Judging by the presentation images, the payment system will be tied to WhatsApp.
This is what he said:
“All right, so let’s talk about payments, because this is a part of the vision that I’m particularly excited about. Because, when I look out at all the different ways that people interact privately, I think payments is one of the areas where we have an opportunity to make it a lot easier, that’s among the most important things that we can do here.
I believe that it should be as easy to to send money to someone as it is to send a photo. So we’re already testing this in India with about a million people.
It’s being used a lot and the feedback is great. And we’re already working on rolling this out in a number of other countries later this year.
And you can take a look at what the basic experience is and you know overall payments and private commerce is one of the areas that I’m really excited about and we’re going to have a lot more news and things to talk about here over the coming year as we flush this out more.”
Facebook Pivoting Away from Facebook?
Mark Zuckerberg is expanding Facebook’s business model away from just advertising and expanding it to actual commerce.
The focus of all his products are families and friends communicating with each other, including having private conversations and interactions that are away from the regular Facebook news sharing chaos.
It’s easy to see how Facebook’s Portal product, a video communication device that leverages WhatsApp can become a part of the WhatsApp shopping experience.
Screenshots by Author, Modified by Author