WhatsApp has launched yet another business-focused feature. As part of Mark Zuckerberg’s drive to turn the app into a commerce tool, the ability to locate businesses has launched in five countries. South Africa isn’t one of those yet. But, based on which countries have the feature, it can’t be far off.
It’s not the usual collection of front-runners getting the Shiny New Thing™. Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, and the UK are all on the list for the new search function. The point is to connect users with the companies they interact with, all while making sure that nobody ever has to speak to a human being. Text messages are just fine, bro.
WhatsApp with all these changes?
The feature is called ‘Directory’ and sees users getting a new option called Businesses under a new Discover subsection. From there, users can browse through businesses by type, or search for someone specific. Anybody on WhatsApp’s Business Platform in the five countries where the feature is active will appear. In Brazil specifically, smaller businesses will also be visible.
The regional differences make sense since this limited rollout is a test of the feature. As such, Brazil users can only access the feature on Android devices. The other countries have access to Directory on both Android and iOS for the moment.
“We want to make it easier for people to get more done on WhatsApp,” said Mark Zuckerberg. “Part of that is building better ways to engage with businesses. And while millions of businesses in Brazil use it for chat, we haven’t made it easy to discover businesses or buy from them, so people end up having to use workarounds. The ultimate goal here is to make it so you can find, message, and buy from a business all in the same WhatsApp chat.”
The fact that this is one area of Meta that hasn’t seen any slowdown should give you a pointer towards where the company’s head is at. Earlier this month, Zuckerberg announced massive layoffs and reprioritisation of projects at Meta. Hardware is dead in the water, but enabling e-commerce on the various platforms? Sure, that seems just dandy.