WhatsApp is testing a new business directory in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This will allow the users to find local grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses in the city.
These screenshots show how WhatsApp will show businesses sorted by categories like “grocery store” and “restaurant,” before letting users chat directly with them. Reuters reports that the test will include thousands of businesses in the city.
“This could be … the primary way that people start a commerce process in WhatsApp,” Matt Idema, Facebook’s vice president of business messaging, said in an interview this week. Until last October, the app reported that more than 175 million people around the world used the service to send messages to a WhatsApp business account every day.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram, WhatsApp does not run ads in its app. Idema said previously businesses were promoting their WhatsApp numbers on packaging or websites or using Facebook ads to bring users into chats on WhatsApp.
The messaging app has offered a standalone app for small businesses since 2018, and since then has added features like support for product catalogues and shopping carts. In Brazil and India, it’s also started offering in-app payments, letting users make purchases directly from businesses, in addition to sending money to friends and family.
The messaging app said the new test would include thousands of businesses in categories like food, retail and local services across certain São Paulo neighbourhoods. Idema said India and Indonesia were good next candidates to expand the feature.
Online retailing has continued to expand during the coronavirus pandemic. Facebook has pushed in-app shopping features across its apps. In June, Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s Shops feature would expand to texting app in several countries. In recent years, they have also launched shopping tools like product catalogues and shopping carts.