Facebook will start charging merchants to use certain business features on WhatsApp like in-chat shopping and hosting
- Facebook is rolling out in-chat purchases and hosting services to businesses
- However, companies that intend to use the service will soon be charged
- The move comes as Facebook is looking to increase its revenue with WhatsApp
WhatsApp has become a go-to for businesses to chat with customers and sell products – and Facebook intends to reap some of the profits.
The social media giant announced it will start charging merchants using the messaging service by offering in-app purchases and hosting services.
One of the major features is giving businesses the ability to sell products within WhatsApp through Facebook Shops, which consumers can purchase directly from a chat.
Companies can also add ‘buy’ buttons other places that direct customers to the messaging service to buy goods or services.
The announcement shares that WhatsApp is now entering the cloud computing sector, offering firms who use its customer service messaging tools the ability to store those messages on Facebook servers.
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WhatsApp has become a go-to for businesses to chat with customers and sell products – and Facebook intends to reap some of the profits. The social media giant announced it will start charging merchants using the messaging service by offering in-app purchases and hosting services
Facebook has been trying to boost sales from higher-growth units such as Instagram and WhatsApp – a feat it has struggled with since purchasing the apps some six years ago.
WhatsApp’s chief operating officer, Matt Idema, said in an interview that the shopping tool would start rolling out this year, while message hosting would become available in 2021.
The in-chat shopping feature will allow businesses to add ‘buy’ buttons in other places that will redirect customers to the merchant’s chat to complete purchases, TechCrunch reports.
‘We also want to make it easier for businesses to integrate these features into their existing commerce and customer solutions,’ WhatsApp shared in Thursday’s announcement.
One of the major changes is giving businesses the ability to sell products within WhatsApp through Facebook Shops, which consumers can purchase directly from a chat
‘This will help many small businesses who have been most impacted in this time.’
Idema said WhatsApp would offer the will hosting service for free to try to draw new paying customers to its enterprise tools, which charge 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message delivered.
Allowing companies to use WhatsApp’s API will let the manage message threads outside of the app, along with having a place to store conversation that may be needed in the future.
Idema notes chats with a business using the new hosting service will disclose that those conversations are stored elsewhere and not protected by the app’s end-to-end encryption.
In total, more than 175 million people interact with a business each day on WhatsApp
Facebook has also said it will not use message data hosted on its servers for other business purposes, Idema explained.
The app has a relatively small customer base of tens of thousands of businesses, while tens of millions use its more limited free tools aimed at small businesses.
In total, more than 175 million people interact with a business each day on WhatsApp, Idema said.
‘The revenue is small today, by comparison to Facebook at large, but we think the opportunity is pretty big,’ he said.
The social media firm has allowed merchants to conduct business on WhatsApp free of charge, up until now.
However, the firm claims that a portion of the generated revenue will be used to allow some free services to its more than two billion WhatsApp users.
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