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Facebook Expands Shopping and Business Features for WhatsApp

Chris Crum writes for Small Business Resources about what's new for small business. Chris was a featured writer with the iEntry Network of B2B Publications where hundreds of publications linked to his articles including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, LA Times and the New York Times.
Capitalizing on a business’s need to offer more efficient ways to serve its customers, Facebook announces the expansion of WhatsApp for selling products and making purchases. Facebook Expands Shopping and Business Features for WhatsApp

Facebook recently announced plans to increase its investment in business use for its popular messaging platform, WhatsApp, similar to what it has done with Facebook Messenger in recent years.

WhatsApp has a reported two billion users globally, with over 68 million users here in the United States alone . The expansion of shopping and business features suggests that businesses will be able to massively increase their ability to connect with even more consumers, and particularly those who don’t necessarily use the Messenger platform.

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Image via WhatsApp YouTube channel

"Many of the old ways in which people and businesses communicate are not working," Facebook said in the announcement. "While businesses spend billions of dollars annually managing phone calls, e-mails, and SMS, people do not want to wait on hold, get passed from person to person, or wonder if their messages were received. The global pandemic has made clear that businesses need fast and efficient ways to service their customers and make sales."

Specifically, Facebook says it will expand ways for people to check out available products and make purchases right from chats in WhatsApp, while at the same time, making it easier for businesses to integrate features into their existing commerce and customer solutions. The company believes that this will help many small businesses who have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

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Image via WhatsApp YouTube channel

Facebook’s expansion plans for WhatsApp also include partnerships with numerous business solution providers it has been working with in recent years. The company says it will provide a new option for businesses to manage WhatsApp messages via hosting services, which it will offer itself. By doing so, it says, it will be easier for SMBs to sell products, keep inventory up to date, and quickly respond to messages, regardless of where employees are.

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Image via WhatsApp YouTube channel

Facebook will charge business customers for some of its offerings, but the company says this will help WhatsApp continue building its own business so it can provide and expand free encrypted text, video, and voice calling. It also notes that conversations will be kept private, which is something many consumers are likely to wonder about given Facebook’s well-publicized privacy controversies of recent years.

The WhatsApp announcements come on the heels of other business-related improvements Facebook has made to its flagship social platform. The company recently launched Facebook Business Suite to serve as a central destination across mobile and desktop for businesses to access tools for both Facebook and Instagram.

No plans to integrate WhatsApp into Business Suite have been announced at this time, but it is possible that the future will see the integration of these new offerings and those provided via Facebook Messenger as the social media giant pushes further into the realm of business via messaging.

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