WhatsApp aims to do better by businesses seeking to connect with customers on the platform. New feature this month include shareable catalogues plus a resurgence of QR codes.
WhatApp first introduced in-app ‘Catalogs’ way back when the world was a very different place—we’re talking November 2019. Essentially, they were mobile storefronts wholly contained within the WhatsApp environment. They were progress at the time, because vendors could easily make them impressive without even needing a website to bounce-out to. Sellers could easily send the catalogues (or individual items) to customers, via a WhatsApp chat message.
It has, to some extent, been a success. WhatsApp says that ‘more than 40 million people view a business catalog on WhatsApp each month.’
But, the first iteration of Catalogs was severely lacking in terms of shareability. In fact, 2019 WhatsApp catalogues were totally platform-bound: they could be viewed on WhatsApp, but nowhere else. It was a limitation that surely frustrated many businesses. Afterall, WhatsApp is a Facebook-owned enterprise, yet the WhatsApp catalogues could not even be shared to the big blue f. The new functionality finally corrects that.
Now, businesses can create and share catalogue links that can be posted ‘on websites, Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere’. That should increase Catalogs’ reach from around a third of Australians to something like three quarters of them.
QR your contact details
WhatsApp is also streamlining the way users get a business’ contact details. It’s all about the QR codes.
WhatsApp suggests that businesses will display their WhatsApp QR code on their ‘storefront, product packaging or receipt’. When the customer scans a WhatApp QR code, a chat will open in the app. Businesses have the option of setting a pre-populated message as a conversation starter.
In practice, the QR shortcut could make instant contact much more likely. Completely removing the need to manually enter phone numbers takes away a barrier. It’s an invitation to an accelerated connection.
All WhatsApp Business users can start with their own unique WhatApp QR code now.
The WhatsApp Business app now boasts in excess of 50 million app users. That is about one business user for every 40 consumers on the platform. Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch reckons the relative uptake is underwhelming, but a more optimistic marketer might see the ratio as an opportunity.
WhatsApp remains completely free both for consumers and businesses. The fact that almost half of the Business app uptake has come from India and Brazil might be seen as supporting years-old assumptions that WhatsApp is more for developing economies than developed ones. But, that might be changing.
For the first three months of 2020, New Zealand and Australia rank #1 and #4 in the list of countries with the highest growth of WhatsApp downloads from the Apple App Store in a Priori Data survey. As more local consumers adopt the platform, savvy businesses will follow and make full use of the free features that get them front-and-centre for their customers.
Copy Transmission is a Melbourne-based agency :: Better Brands. Loud & Clear.