WhatsApp is not an online shopping platform, but the messaging app is adding a “cart” feature to facilitate communications between buyers and merchants.
The company says people are using its app to discuss products and coordinate sales – a “store counter,” in its analogy. “Catalogs have allowed people to quickly see what’s available and helped businesses organize their chats around particular items,” it wrote in Tuesday’s announcement. That’s a reference to the catalog feature it added last year. “With more and more shopping happening through chats, we want to make buying and selling even easier.”
The carts allow shoppers to only go so far, however. WhatsApp explained:
“With carts, people can browse a catalog, select multiple products and send the order as one message to the business. This will make it simpler for businesses to keep track of order inquiries, manage requests from customers and close sales.”
A retail business that’s using the feature called it a convenient way to understand what the customer is ordering without all the back-and-forth communication.
“Simply find the items you want and tap “add to cart,” WhatsApp explained. “Once your cart is complete, send it as a message to the business.”
An FAQ on WhatsApp.com explains in more detail how a shopper might use the new cart feature:
Adding products to cart
1) Open WhatsApp.
2) Go to your chat or business profile of the business you’d like to order from.
3) Tap on the shopping button icon listed next to their name to access their catalog.
4) Once the catalog opens, browse through the products you’d like to order.
5) Tap on the product you like.
6) Tap ADD TO CART on product if you’d like to order. Alternatively, you can also tap MESSAGE BUSINESS if you’d like to ask a specific question about the product.
Editing your cart
1) Tap VIEW CART to see all the products added to your cart.
2) Tap ADD MORE if you wish to navigate back to the catalog to continue adding more products.
3) You can also edit quantity for each product added to your cart.
Placing an order
1) Once you’ve successfully updated your cart, you can send it to the seller as a WhatsApp message.
2) Once sent, you will be able to see the details of your order by tapping on the VIEW CART button in your chat window with the seller.
Facebook bought WhatsApp in a deal valued at $19 billion in 2014. A spokesperson said over 175 million people message a WhatsApp Business account every day, and more than 40 million people globally view a business catalog each month. “With more and more shopping happening through chats, we want to make buying and selling even easier,” she said, and shared a video that shows how consumers can use the new feature.
WhatsApp carts are going live around the world today, you can read the full announcement on the WhatsApp blog.