WhatsApp Picks Brazil To Launch In-App Business Directory And Shopping


In a move to further build on the reliance on WhatsApp in one of its largest markets, the Meta-owned company launched new functionalities in Brazil to enable consumers to find, communicate and transact with businesses, all within the messaging app.

The features include a directory function, which had been tested with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) for a year in São Paulo. Under the changes announced by the company today (17), users can find not only SMBs nationwide but also larger businesses using the WhatsApp API near them through an in-app search feature within the app.

Brazil is the first country in the world where the firm is introducing the feature, which will be gradually rolled out in other markets. “We want to make it easier for people to do even more on WhatsApp and part of that means building better ways to engage with businesses”, said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on a recorded message played at WhatsApp’s first business summit in São Paulo today (17).

With the new features, Brazilian users of the messaging tool will also be able to view products and initiate conversations with sellers. In partnership with local acquirers such as Cielo and Mercado Pago, WhatsApp is also set to enable consumers to buy from businesses within the app .

It is estimated that Brazil concentrates approximately 165 million WhatsApp users, according to research by Opinion Box/Mobile Time, from August 2022. The messaging tool is installed in 99% of smartphones, and it is the country’s most frequently used app.

Also according to the research, 80% of WhatsApp users interact with brands and companies through the app and 82% do so to request information on products and services. In addition, some 60% of Brazil’s most valuable brands are on WhatsApp, according to research by Kantar.

The company’s launches also address the local market trends regarding omnichannel commerce. For example, Kantar data suggests that 85% of online adults in Brazil feel more connected to brands when they can send direct messages to that company.

Many local companies are reaping the benefits of adding messaging to their customer services strategy. During the event, various case studies were mentioned, namely Banco do Brasilone of Brazil’s largest banks, which offers more than 20 types of services to its 12 million customers through WhatsApp and uses it for service messages, marketing, and transactional purposes.

Changing business communications

According to messaging vice president at Meta, Matthew Idema, the way Brazilian businesses use the tool is “very creative”. “Since my first visit to Brazil in 2017, I found it remarkable how many small businesses were using WhatsApp to sell products, but in an unstructured way. So we wanted to make it easier for people in businesses to get things done”, he said.

Without specifying how much of a revenue boost Meta expects from the new conversational commerce functionalities aimed at SMBs, Idema said the strategy is to launch free products and get them to scale, then bring in paid services later. “At this stage, we’re at the very beginning, just making it possible for people to find a business on WhatsApp without any friction”, he noted.

Premium services for SMBs on the horizon include distributing the ability to respond to conversations across up to 10 devices – currently, it is only possible for a small business to respond to WhatsApp inquiries from a single device. “Our vision is for Whatsapp to be the primary way that people in businesses communicate,” Idema said.

By concentrating business discovery, conversations, and transactions in a single platform, WhatsApp wants to address the difficulties in customer experience smaller companies face, as buyers need to use various services before completing a sale online, said Guilherme Horn, Brihat App in head for Wah

“Businesses lose sales every time a user needs to leave WhatsApp to do something [other than buying]. We aim to prevent that from happening – and by doing so, we will generate a massive impact on the Brazilian economy”, he concluded.



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