Facebook and WhatsApp announced that it is increasing its investment into shopping with WhatsApp. Facebook has listened to feedback and will begin offering more and expanded tools to help businesses sell more online with WhatsApp.
Facebook wants to make it easier for businesses to chat and close sales with WhatsApp, including a way to browse products, select products and pay for the products, all while communicating with a business.
Facebook previously announced a dedicated shopping tab on Facebook and Instagram, including in-app purchases. This functionality will be expanded on WhatsApp.
Evolution of Online Shopping During Pandemic
Consumers are increasingly shopping with apps. Restaurants that have pivoted to curbside pick up and ordering by apps are becoming a normal thing. Ordering with an app is more normal and accepted now than ever before.
WhatsApp’s new business shopping fills a gap that benefits both consumers and businesses.
According to the official Facebook announcement, consumers are done with the old inconveniences:
“Many of the old ways in which people and businesses communicate are not working. While businesses spend billions of dollars annually managing phone calls, e-mails, and SMS, people do not want to wait on hold, get passed from person to person, or wonder if their messages were received.”
New Features to Increase Sales
The new business tools focus on three areas:
- Facebook Hosting Services
- Business Sales
Facebook is expanding ways that consumers can make purchases directly from chat. Not only that, they are focusing on integrating WhatsApp with existing eCommerce applications businesses are already using.
According to Facebook:
“We also want to make it easier for businesses to integrate these features into their existing commerce and customer solutions.”
Facebook Hosting Services with Work from Home Options
Facebook announced that they will be rolling out new offerings that will make it easier for small to medium sized businesses to manage their chat and sales presence. They also said that their systems will make it easier for businesses to conduct transactions while employees are working from home.
“We will also provide a new option for businesses to manage their WhatsApp messages via hosting services that Facebook plans to offer. Providing this option will make it easier for small and medium size businesses to get started, sell products, keep their inventory up to date, and quickly respond to messages they receive – wherever their employees are.”
Facebook announced that they will be charging for some of the services, while offering other services like chat, video calling and messaging free of charge.
The Future of Business Messaging
Business messaging is largely perceived as clunky messaging with a bot with limited choices or some mystery customer service rep possibly in another country other than your own.
Facebook envisions business messaging as a way for business to directly interact with a customer while browsing for products and to be able to close the sale right there in the moment.
That’s online shopping that contains the best elements of the live shopping experience. This is a way to remove a layer of stress in these times of social distancing when shopping during a pandemic can feel like a life threatening experience.
Facebook published a video titled The Future of Business Messaging that illustrates a sales transaction from chat to browsing to selecting a product to checking out.
1. The video opens with a consumer opening WhatsApp to connect with a vendor
2. The consumer can then chat with the business with the immediacy of being in the store
3. Consumers can browse a catalog using WhatsApp
4. A consumer can add a product to a shopping cart while still on WhatsApp
5. A consumer then reviews the order and pays for it, receiving a confirmation in a chat window on WhatsApp
WhatsApp May Be a Lifeline for Businesses
Human to human interaction powers sales. WhatsApp’s new features joins many sales boosting qualities of in-person shopping with the immediacy and safety of online shopping. This may be a useful addition for many small and medium sized businesses.