New features coming to WhatsApp – including shopping

 ·23 Jun 2021

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced the integration of shopping into the group’s popular WhatsApp messaging service.

In a social media post on Tuesday (22 June), Zuckerberg said that users will soon be able to view a shop on WhatsApp so they can chat with a business before buying something.

He added that businesses only need to set up their shop once to have it work across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

The announcement forms part of a continued push by Facebook-owned companies, with Instagram also introducing a new feature that will allow users to buy products by searching for an image.

In a post published on WhatsApp’s blog earlier in June, the messaging service said that it would also be introducing a number of updates that will make it quicker for businesses to get started and for people to easily chat with these businesses.

These include:

Get started on WhatsApp faster

WhatsApp says it has cut down the time it takes for businesses to get up and running from weeks to just five minutes.

“Whether a business wants to work with a business solution provider or get support directly from Facebook in the future, these improvements will make it easier for more medium and larger businesses to have customer conversations on WhatsApp,” it said.

Additional information and new types of messages

As more businesses come onto WhatsApp, the group said that it is improving how businesses can communicate with their customers.

For example, businesses were often limited to sending timely notifications, which made it difficult to follow up with customers outside of a 24-hour window. WhatsApp said it will now support more types of messages – to let people know when an item is back in stock, for example.

The group said it has also seen how periodic updates from health authorities about responding to the pandemic have been helpful and we want to make this kind of service available for more types of conversations.

More ways to respond

WhatsApp said that it is also rolling out new messaging features that can help people get business done faster.

New list messages present a menu of up to 10 options so people no longer need to type out a response. Reply buttons will allow people to quickly make a selection from up to three options with just a quick tap that a business can set ahead of time through their WhatsApp Business API account.

“As always, people remain in control of their chats. People still need to reach out to start a conversation or request a business contact them via WhatsApp,” it said.

“With these updates, we’re also providing new ways for people to give greater feedback about the experience they are having if they have a reason to block a business.”

Read: New service lets you check who’s sending spam messages in South Africa

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