How will WhatsApp’s introduction of Catalogs help businesses?

WhatsApp Catalogs
The new Catalogs feature on WhatsApp makes it possible for businesses to turn their WhatsApp accounts into storefronts. Photo: WhatsApp.

Showcase products

The new Catalogs feature will make it possible for companies to showcase and share products via WhatsApp. Once signed signed up to Catalogs, potential customers can browse photos, view prices, and read product descriptions, in order to make more informed purchasing decisions.

By implementing the Catalogs system, WhatsApp is effectively attempting to make its messaging service into a mobile store. And the intriguing and innovative aspect of Catalogs is that it turns any company’s WhatsApp site into a store that doesn’t even require a webpage. There are several obvious advantages to this, not least the fact that it saves potentially a significant amount of money on website expenses.

Of course, businesses won’t necessarily abandon their websites, but it is possible that larger businesses in particular could use this new customer feature in order to push people to their website in an affordable fashion.

WhatsApp Business
WhatsApp has become one of the most popular sites in the world, with a current Alexa ranking of 72. Photo: WhatsApp.

Ecommerce competition

Nonetheless, the success of Catalogs is far from certain, considering the competition that already exists in the ecommerce world. There have been many decent ideas that have fallen flat on their faces once introduced into cyberspace, and it will be interesting to see whether Catalogs catches on with companies, or is consigned to the garbage can of history.

Certainly WhatsApp has attempted to build useful functionality into the new feature. The new aspects of WhatsApp make it possible to fill in product and service codes in order to identify particular items, with the messaging service then enabling users to send Catalogs items to consumers via chat messages.

For example, should a customer submit a query about a particular item, or request a recommendation, the owner of a particular business can tap in order to send a link to a suitable item via WhatsApp. This message can also be infused with valuable information, making purchasing decisions more likely, and indeed informed.

WhatsApp conversation
WhatsApp has also achieved hugely popularity with young people just wanting to chat. Photo: Helar Lukats via Wikimedia.

Emerging markets

It is thought that Catalogs will particularly appeal to customers in emerging markets, where online activity often takes place on apps and mobile platforms. This is still a fertile niche that some of the established Internet giants have failed to tap into fully, and it seems that WhatsApp wants to be ahead of the curve in this regard.

It is notable that the WhatsApp Business app has already been successful, with 5 million customers having signed up since it was launched. Catalogs is just the latest feature on WhatsApp intended to attract the business community, with business profiles, quick replies for messages, chat labels and automated messages all considered valuable features for business users as well.

Catalogs will roll out across Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S., and WhatsApp has confirmed that it will launch simultaneously on both iOS and Android. There is no timeframe for an extension to the worldwide market, but this will happen in the foreseeable future.

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