WhatsApp has launched a new feature in select countries that will let users search for businesses, contact them, and make purchases without ever having to leave the app. The features are still in testing and are limited to select countries. The new ‘Business Search’ feature will let users find a brand on the platform. This is being rolled out in Brazil, the UK, Indonesia, Mexico, and Colombia for now.
The new Directory feature will let users discover a local merchant on WhatsApp and it is limited to Brazil only for now. The company plans to expand it to the entire country after testing in Sao Paulo.
“We want to make it easier for people to get more done on WhatsApp. Part of that is building better ways to engage with businesses. And while millions of businesses in Brazil use it for chat, we haven’t made it easy to discover businesses or buy from them, so people end up having to use workarounds,” states Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO, in a press statement.
The new P2M or Pay to Merchant feature will let users directly pay a merchant in the app. This is being tested in Brazil only and will expand to other markets as well. With this addition, WhatsApp is turning into yet another Meta-owned social platform that also doubles up as a full-fledged online storefront. Back in 2020, Facebook and Instagram gained shopping features that let businesses easily create online stores on the platforms allowing them to sell their merchandise directly – and WhatsApp’s now joining them.
The new Find a Business feature will let users search by typing the name they have in mind, but also list categories such as shopping, food & drink, finance & banking, and more. The chat app is also expanding the availability of bank card payments to businesses by kicking off testing in Brazil. The feature is already available in India, though via JioMart.
Businesses will obviously benefit from this feature too since people will be able to find, contact, and purchase from them – all from a WhatsApp chat. Mark Zuckerberg has also promised privacy with Business Search, stating that what you search for is processed in such a way that it cannot be traced back to you.
Do note that the feature is not available in India right now, with the launch only in Brazil, the UK, Indonesia, Mexico, and Colombia so far. From these, only users in Brazil can look up SMBs (small and midsize businesses) in their own neighbourhood, as the search capabilities in the other countries are limited to bigger brands.
WhatsApp has yet to provide any date for when Indian WhatsApp users will be treated to the Business Search feature, but the platform does state that it’s working to bring the experience to more countries “in the coming months.”