WhatsApp Launches Catalogs for Businesses: The Latest Step in Facebook’s Master Plan
If you use WhatsApp to chat with customers, this latest update will make it easier to share products photos and information. As of Friday of last week, brands are now able to add a full product catalog—including photos, descriptions, links, and pricing—to their WhatsApp account.
WhatsApp, a subsidiary of Facebook, explains:
Catalogs are a mobile storefront for businesses to showcase and share their goods so people can easily browse and discover something they would like to buy. Previously businesses had to send product photos one at a time and repeatedly provide information — now customers can see their full catalog right within WhatsApp. This makes business owners look more professional and keeps customers engaged in the chat without having to visit a website.
This move aligns with Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to restructure his family of social networks around more private and intimate forms of communication. In a public statement from March 2019, Zuckerberg said that he “expect[s] future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network,” so it makes perfect sense that the WhatsApp team is focused on creating ways for businesses to take part in these smaller, one-on-one conversations with customers via the app.
We’ll likely see this focus on privacy evolve further in the coming years, with Zuckerberg emphasizing the WhatsApp users’ preference for a less public form of interaction:
There is an opportunity to build a platform that focuses on all of the ways people want to interact privately. This sense of privacy and intimacy is not just about technical features — it is designed deeply into the feel of the service overall. In WhatsApp, for example, our team is obsessed with creating an intimate environment in every aspect of the product. Even where we’ve built features that allow for broader sharing, it’s still a less public experience. When the team built groups, they put in a size limit to make sure every interaction felt private.
And business owners seem to be on board for WhatsApp’s new direction. WhatsApp Business, which is separate from the main WhatsApp application, boasts over 5 million users. (WhatsApp itself has over 1.5 billion users.) Since launching a little over a year ago, it has been gradually expanding its range of tools available to help business owners reach and connect with their customers.
We’ve seen how the Facebook company has transformed the Instagram app into an all-in-one shopping hub that gives users a place to discover products, interact with sellers, and even make a purchase without ever leaving the app. Now, it looks like they’re looking to do the same for WhatsApp.
The next big step for WhatsApp Business will likely be incorporating a complete ecommerce experience into the application. In 2020, Facebook plans to launch Libra, a blockchain digital currency, which will allow users to send and receive Libra currency across Facebook applications. Not only will Facebook control the digital storefront, it will also have ownership of the currency exchanged therein. It’ll likely result in a major shift in the way people browse and make purchases online. In the meantime, it couldn’t hurt to check out the Whatsapp Business app and get familiar with the platform. As Facebook focuses on how consumers want to interact with businesses and make purchases online, it will likely continue to expand the tools available to marketers.
The catalog feature is currently available to businesses using the WhatsApp Business app on both Android and iPhone in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. It will be soon be rolling out worldwide.