Despite a plunging share price, Meta is venturing into pastures new with additional features for users and businesses within the WhatsApp platform. Here we take a look at what this means for businesses seeking to reach the reported 84% of smartphone users in the UK who regularly use the app.
Meta has unveiled a new feature which will provide UK WhatsApp users with the opportunity to search, message and purchase from businesses in-app. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the update at the first-ever WhatsApp Business Summit in Brazil, stating “We want to make it easier for people to get more done on WhatsApp. Part of that is building better ways to engage with businesses.”
The feature has already been rolled out in the UK, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico, which will give users the ability to find businesses by simply searching for a business name, which Meta say will save time as users don’t have to search the web for a business number. Once the user has located the business through the app, they can ask questions as well as browse products and add products to a cart.
In a blog post published by Meta, they state that “As more businesses use WhatsApp, we want people to be in control of their conversations. Some of the businesses that have recently joined WhatsApp are helping people open a bank account, purchase a train ticket and order groceries.”
WhatsApp is already testing a checkout feature that will enable customers to efficiently purchase products with their credit or debit card in-app. If WhatsApp were to implement a shopping feature in the app, businesses will have the ability to reach more customers through a platform that has previously been fairly untouched by social commerce. Meta said, “This seamless checkout experience will be a game-changer for people and businesses looking to buy and sell on WhatsApp without having to go to a website, open another app or pay in person.”
What potential does business messaging have on WhatsApp?
WhatsApp has 2.44 billion unique active users worldwide as of April 2022 according to Statista, with 2.17 million downloads of the app made by UK users in the second quarter of 2022 alone. The app is leading the way for messaging each other with 84% of smartphone users in the UK using the app for their messaging needs. One-fourth of UK consumers prefer a marketing SMS over a marketing phone call according to Cybercrew, where users can communicate comfortably and at their own pace. Meta previously stated that 66% of people surveyed who message businesses say that being able to message a business helps them feel more confident about the brand.
Businesses will of course benefit from the possibility of being found easily and will particularly benefit within an app that has a huge market. Direct messaging will increase brand loyalty as it is engaging to the customer and will provide great customer service as a one-to-one chat shows care and commitment. Direct messaging can give businesses the potential to send personalised offers to recipients and implement marketing campaigns, building brand awareness. Cybercrew states that in 2019, approximately 38% of companies in the UK used SMS marketing as part of their marketing campaigns, which can only be made easier through WhatsApp.
Pippa Gilroy is a Digital Marketing MSc student, content creator and social media enthusiast with a passion for writing about the latest industry trends.
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