The largest messaging app WhatsApp has launched a new service this week. It aims to monetize its free platform with it. WhatsApp Business aims at those businesses which have so far been using WhatsApp accounts meant for individuals.
With this move, WhatsApp aims to make the interaction easier with businesses. It is designed for small businesses and addresses the challenges of lack of a business profile, managing the messages at a large scale and managing customers at one place. Businesses have already been trying to reach the potential customers by leaving their contacts on various social media platforms like Facebook.
With this new app, the Facebook owned company hopes that the businesses will be able to develop direct contact with the consumers while ensuring authenticity. They will be testing new features that will help solve some of the challenges of the app and make it easier for people to communicate with the businesses they want to reach out to via WhatsApp.
WhatsApp Business gives users a verified green checkmark next to their names. Further, the businesses will be able to create a company profile with information which includes address, business hours and a description of the products or services offered. It will also help the businesses manage consumer chats. All of this is free for use. But they do plan to charge businesses in the future. For now, the focus is getting businesses on the platform. This step brings WhatsApp closer to enabling m-commerce. It already has 1.3 billion users globally and 200 million in India. Many startups were a part of the early pilots for WhatsApp Business such as Bookmyshow and the online pharmacy 1mg. Globally, the trials for the app included KLM, the Dutch airlines and Itau Bank in Brazil.
The company mentioned that businesses have different needs. They want an official presence, a verified profile which makes it easier to respond to messages and enables people to identify a business. They are also building and testing new tools through a free WhatsApp Business app for smaller businesses and an enterprise solution for larger companies which operate at a large scale with a huge global base.
India is a key market for WhatsApp with the largest user base of 200 million. That is one reason why the company is spending a lot of time to understand what the people and businesses want from the app. The company mentioned that they aim to make businesses easier for people. Consumers use WhatsApp to talk about their products and make enquiries about the purchases, and the company aims to make this much easier.
This is also a move to monetize the platform by staying away from the advertising route since it is seen as very intrusive and may put off users. Businesses will have a huge advantage with this feature, they will be able to connect with the consumers and share information about their products as well as services. Once the company begins charging for the services, it will be able to monetize through this route.