WhatsApp, the globally popular messaging platform owned by Meta, has unveiled new commerce-focused features, taking another step toward becoming a comprehensive ‘Everything App’. With initiatives like ‘Flows’ and expanded payment options in India, the company aims to create a seamless business and shopping experience within the app. Let’s delve into these features and how they are reshaping the landscape of online commerce and messaging.

Flows: The New Paradigm for In-App Shopping

WhatsApp is enhancing its in-app shopping experience with a new feature called ‘Flows’. Designed to simplify various tasks like selecting a flight seat or booking appointments, Flows allows users to complete these actions without ever leaving the WhatsApp interface.

For businesses, Flows offers various building blocks—from text boxes and calendars to seat pickers—enabling a flexible and customizable user experience. WhatsApp plans to roll out these tools to businesses in the coming months.

According to a support page for Flows, the feature has a broad range of use cases including booking appointments, product customization, account logins, and event sign-ups. Nikila Srinivasan, VP of business messaging at Meta, remarked, “The goal is to enable business messaging in a way that businesses and people can do a lot more right in the chat thread. We are trying to build rich experiences within the chat, and that’s where Flows comes in.”

Expanding Payment Options in India

WhatsApp is also extending its payment features in India, a market where it boasts over 500 million users. The company has teamed up with payment gateway providers Razorpay and PayU, allowing users to complete transactions using various UPI apps, as well as credit and debit cards. This is a substantial leap from last year when users could only pay via the UPI-based WhatsApp Pay.

Meta’s Verified for Businesses: Building Trust

Another noteworthy development is Meta’s expansion of its verification program to businesses. While initially focused on Facebook and Instagram, the program will eventually extend to WhatsApp. Verified businesses will enjoy perks like better search result placement and a “Recommended Meta Verified Businesses” carousel in user feeds. This move could significantly boost the credibility and reach of businesses operating on WhatsApp.

Monetization and the Future of WhatsApp Business

WhatsApp’s revenue model is intricately tied to the volume of conversations and transactions on the platform. By introducing features like Flows and expanded payment options, WhatsApp is likely encouraging more frequent business transactions. The platform is also testing personalized messages for merchants, enabling them to send custom offers and discounts to select customers.

Final Thoughts

WhatsApp is clearly moving beyond its initial identity as a simple messaging app. With its new commerce and business features, the platform is edging closer to becoming an all-encompassing digital ecosystem. While the immediate focus is on e-commerce and shopping experiences, the company has expressed interest in broadening these rich experiences to various types of businesses. As these features roll out, WhatsApp could very well transform how businesses and consumers interact in the digital age.