We don’t know how many people actually use WhatsApp to sell goods and services but clearly the number is high enough. Why? Because the instant messaging app is rolling out a dedicated button for shopping. If you’re communicating with someone on WhatsApp Business, which aims to connect brands with customers and vice versa, you can now tap a little storefront icon in the chat window to be taken directly to a catalogue of products. The brief video explanation released by WhatsApp shows off the button rather neatly. Not that there’s much that’s complicated about it. Tap it and look at stuff that costs money. Easy, right?
We had an inkling something like this was heading for WhatsApp a few weeks ago, when beta tests for some kind of expanded online shopping functionality were reported on certain users’ apps. As it turns out, the actual implementation was closer than expected. Obviously, since it’s just been rolled out. Great news for anyone who wanted to really get across the magnitude of their stock. That’s what business-people say, right?
WhatsApp shopping > Window shopping
So how does it work? Well… you just click the button. If you’re a customer, make sure your WhatsApp Business app is updated and then head on over to a business that strikes your fancy. A cake seller, perhaps. Or candles. We don’t know your life. Select the business, tap on the little storefront-looking button and you’ll be taken to a catalogue of products the business is selling. You can scroll and browse to your hearts desire.
If you’re a business and want to set up your catalogue on WhatsApp Business, first ensure you have the app downloaded and/or updated. Then click on the three vertical dots in the top left and select “Settings”. You’ll see “Business Settings” at the top of list of options. Give that a tap and then tap “Catalogue” in the following menu. You’ll be taken to a new page with a massive green button that reads, “Add Product or Service”. You can then add as many products you want, assign images from your phone’s photo gallery, give them prices and describe what you’re offering. It’s as easy as that. Sounds a little time-consuming, though.
While having the option to peruse a catalogue in WhatsApp rather than waiting on a link sent by the business you’re talking to is cool, it’s still fairly limited. All you can do with the catalogue is browse. You can’t yet directly purchase or make transactions in WhatsApp itself — though WhatsApp has plans in that direction. Clicking on an item just provides a pop up suggestion to “message business”.
Previously unveiled demos have shown off an “Add to cart” option so expect to see that feature at some point in the future. Whatever the case may be, the addition of a dedicated catalogue is a nice touch for WhatsApp Business and certainly lays the groundwork for further improvements to the app.