WhatsApp has announced the launch of a new business feature that could see it become a major ecommerce platform. From today, shoppers will be able to use Carts to browse items via WhatsApp, add them to their own personalized shopping basket and send orders in one simple message.
The new feature is designed to make it easier for businesses to manage orders and close sales on WhatsApp, while also simplifying communication between companies and their customers. In particular, Carts is targeting outlets that typically sell multiple items, including clothing stores and restaurants.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is launching Carts globally after receiving positive feedback from a few select trial businesses. One of those was Britain’s oldest family-run butchers, R J Balson & Son, located in Bridport, Dorset, who used Carts to manage their festive orders in the run-up to what is usually the busiest time of the year for retailers.
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Although WhatsApp has successfully enticed many businesses to use its platform in order to connect with their customers, Facebook has not yet managed to transform the messaging app into a fully-fledged ecommerce solution.
The social media giant will be hoping that the launch of Carts could mark the first step towards monetizing WhatsApp on a grander scale. Although the platform is hugely popular – it has more than two billion users – it makes little in the way of revenue. Businesses may be more inclined to pay a fee for the service if it starts to become a more prominent way of generating custom.
That being said, for all the excitement that Carts will generate, it will not quite transform WhatsApp into an all-in-one e-commerce platform for businesses. Although customers can add orders using the platform, they still need to organize payment with the relevant business through other means.
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Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services. After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.