Popular messaging app WhatsApp has launched its business-focused application, with a global rollout on the cards in the coming weeks.
The Facebook-owned platform has been free-to-use since its acquisition, but has struggled to be a revenue spinner for its parent company.
It announced in 2017 that it would start looking at adding and testing out new business features on the app, some of which are already in use by companies today.
The main focus has been on using WhatsApp as a communication or support channel, while other businesses have used the platform as a way to broadcast information to subscribers.
“People all around the world use WhatsApp to connect with small businesses they care about — from online clothing companies in India to auto parts stores in Brazil. But WhatsApp was built for people and we want to improve the business experience,” the group said.
It would achieve this, by now making it easier for businesses to respond to customers, separating customer and personal messages, and creating an official presence. As part of the new app’s tools, companies will also have access to some rudimentary metrics, and new messaging tools.
The new app features:
- Business Profiles: Help customers with useful information such as a business description, email or store addresses, and website.
- Messaging Tools: Save time with smart messaging tools — quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you’re busy.
- Messaging Statistics: Review simple metrics like the number of messages read to see what’s working.
- WhatsApp Web: Send and receive messages with WhatsApp Business on your desktop.
- Account Type: People will know that they’re talking to a business because you will be listed as a Business Account. Over time, some businesses will have Confirmed Accounts once it’s been confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number.
The free business app has launched in five markets – the USA, UK, Italy, Mexico and Indonesia, and will “roll out around the world in the coming weeks”.