Is WhatsApp preparing to be a fully fledged ecommerce platform?

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If you have been following the announcements that Facebook has been making around WhatsApp of late, you’ll now the messaging platform recently adding a shopping button to its interface.

While the feature is not available globally, it does mark a new strategy for WhatsApp, which is easily one of the most important businesses that Facebook owns.

The shopping button essentially allows users to follow through on a purchase while interacting with a business on WhatsApp, but it is still a system that is being tested out, and therefore needs some refinement.

That has arrived with the addition of a Cart system to the Shopping element of the messaging app.

As the name implies, and as any decent ecommerce site features, the Cart will allow you to select multiple items within a businesses’ catalog on WhatsApp and bundle them together as one purchase once you’re ready to head to checkout.

While we have not been able to test out the feature ourselves, Engadget notes that the interface looks much like the selecting of multiple photos within the app.

This ability to group items together for purchase is convenient for users, but will likely serve as a helpful tool for merchants too, who will now no longer need to deal with as many separate purchases from a single person or customer.

The next step in the process is in-app purchases, which too are yet to be fully rolled out for this new Shopping feature, but could be on the way, especially as in-app purchases were added to the mix for WhatsApp users in Brazil earlier this year.

The experience was short lived, however, as the Central Bank suspended its functionality, with its negative view of Facebook’s Libra platform likely playing a factor.

The Indian market seems to be more receptive to WhatsApp’s in-app purchases though, with five financial institutions supporting it. As such, it may be the next crucial territory for Facebook’s ecommerce ambitions with this instant messaging app.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.

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