“We are trying to make the interaction easier with businesses,” WhatsApp chief operating officer Matt Idema told ET in a phone interview. “WhatsApp Business is designed for small businesses and addresses the three challenges of lack of a business profile, managing messages at scale and managing customers at one place.” Businesses have been trying to reach potential customers by leaving their WhatsApp contacts on Facebook and other social media platforms.
With the new app, the Facebook-owned company hopes that businesses will be able to establish direct contact with consumers seamlessly while ensuring authenticity. “The way this happens now on WhatsApp is pretty rudimentary,” the company said in a blogpost. “We’ve heard stories of shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone, and from people who are unsure about whether or not a business on WhatsApp is authentic. In the coming months, we’ll be testing new features that aim to solve some of these challenges, and make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp.”
WhatsApp Business gives users a verified green checkmark badge next to their names. Second, businesses will be able to create a company profile with information such as address, business hours, description of product or service offered. Third, WhatsApp Business will help manage consumer chats.
“The capabilities we are offering are free to use. But we do plan to charge businesses in the future. The focus right now is getting businesses on the platform,” said Idema. This could also bring WhatsApp, which has 1.3 billion users globally and 200 million in India, a step closer to enabling m-commerce. Several Indian startups were part of early pilots for WhatsApp Business such as online pharmacy 1mg and ticket site Bookmyshow.com. Globally, the trials included Dutch airline KLM and Itau Bank in Brazil. For instance, WhatsApp Business users flying KLM will get notifications on booking confirmations, seat assignments and flight schedules besides being able to submit specific requests on meal preferences, flight changes etc.
“Businesses have many different needs,” said the company blog post. “For example, they want an official presence — a verified profile so people can identify a business from another person — and an easier way to respond to messages. We’re building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, ecommerce sites, and banks.”
Culled from EconomicTimes.IndiaTimes.Com