Business listings launch on WhatsApp ahead of global rollout
Facebook has announced the development of a "modern-day Yellow Pages" on WhatsApp. Its pilot, currently underway, lets users search for shops and services on the platform.
Considering the Yellow Pages still exists and probably believes itself "modern-day" is in no way awkward…
"We're building a modern-day Yellow Pages into WhatsApp where you can look up and contact local businesses right inside the app. Launching in São Paulo today, and hopefully more places soon."
Called the local business directory, the app will slot businesses into categories such as 'restaurant', 'pizza place,' or 'shopping and retail'. Clicking into a category will pull up a list of stores. Users will be able to directly communicate with them, and make purchases.
WhatsApp has started offering in-app payments in Brazil, so the business directory could become a powerful new way for businesses to drive revenue and reach new customers.
A way to monetise
Facebook has been building out WhatsApp's business tools for some time now, and the latest directory feature is likely an easy win.
Looking for nearby businesses will be straightforward. Users need to navigate to their contacts before hitting the green button labelled 'businesses nearby', located under the 'new contact' button.
Facebook has been trying to get business users on WhatsApp for years. With online retail experiencing a post-COVID boom, there's never been a better time to unleash a new, quick and easy way for customers to connect with companies and complete orders digitally.
Facebook is also pushing an expansion of Facebook Shops into WhatsApp, while the messaging platform has also launched product catalogues and shopping carts in recent years. The business directory would tie all of those updates together.
An opening up of WhatsApp to eCommerce
Monetising WhatsApp has been a tricky avenue for Facebook to go down. Selling adverts on the platform has never taken off. But e-commerce could.
Over 175 million people message WhatsApp business accounts every day – that's a lot of wallets that could be opened if the business directory is expanded globally. WhatsApp has already purchased eCommerce platform Meesho and developed its own payment platform in India and Brazil.
Creating a business directory that allows for in-app payments is the next logical step in the path to monetising WhatsApp.
However, Facebook has not ruled out bringing back adverts to WhatsApp.
"There's definitely a route on ads, which is Facebook's core business model, that over the long term I think in some form or another will be part of the business model for WhatsApp."
Paid campaigns are available via WhatsApp currently, sort of, via Click To Message ads. Although this campaign type is proven to be highly effective, uptake is still a tad light relative to other Facebook Ads campaigns.
An easy way to boost discovery
Before the business directory, brands encouraged customers to get in touch via WhatsApp by promoting their contact number or by deploying Facebook Ads to get users into a chat.
A business directory is a far more streamlined way to attract customers and help companies increase their revenue on the platform.
A business profile is a way for a business to establish a formal presence on WhatsApp. Users need to download the WhatsApp Business app first, and once an account is created, you'll be good to go.
It can help you connect with customers, display products and make sales.
"Business profiles makes it easy for your customers to access important information about your business, like your business name, address, category, and description. You can also include a catalog of your products and services, your business email, and links to your website and social media accounts."
Keep your ear to the ground
WhatsApp has a number of existing business tools that are pretty handy:
- Catalogue helps you to showcase your products and services.
- Short link is an auto-generated short link that makes it easier for new customers to message your business.
- WhatsApp templates can be used to create automated greeting messages, auto-away messages or quick replies to answer frequently asked questions.
- Labels help sort customers into helpful categories.
While the business directory pilot is exclusive to one city in Brazil, there are plans to expand it in future.
Australian and Kiwi businesses should keep one eye out for news of an Oceanic expansion and consider building out their own WhatsApp businesses presence so they'll be well placed to take advantage of any further opportunity that may swing their way.