Four months after the introduction of shopping carts, WhatsApp has taken another step in the journey from a novice commerce player to a more refined online retail platform.
The Facebook-owned company revealed updates on Wednesday that focus more on the pesky inventory issue for brands and retailers with catalogs.
To save merchants from having to manage their ads through a mobile app, the social messaging company allows them to create or manage catalogs on a desktop or on the web. The idea is to make it “quick and easy to add new items or services so their customers know what’s available,” according to the company. The move is aimed at helping brands and retailers with large catalogs and high inventory counts, in particular, as they tend to rely on computers for these tasks, rather than phones.
Conversely, trying to buy products that are not available can hurt the shopping experience of potential customers. Now retailers can hide specific items that are sold out or have been withdrawn, and easily find them when they are back in stock.
While updates focus more on the details than the big breakthroughs, they target the fundamentals that can make all the difference in the experience of buying and selling products.
The changes also signal WhatsApp’s growing attention to practicalities and nuances of retail, which suggests that the platform is looking to catch up with the massive buying ambitions of its parent company, as well as the platform. sister Instagram. But there is a long way to go to get there.
More than eight million of course catalogs via WhatsApp worldwide, the company revealed. It’s no small feat, but almost a year and a half into the feature’s debut, it’s also not the kind of massive traction one would expect from a platform cash. over two billion monthly active users.
The messaging app seems to be counteracting the trend of constant high-level launches with flashy and eye-catching features, choosing instead to develop its shopping features in a regular, more interactive process. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
WhatsApp’s messaging features are already extremely popular in countries like India, as well as Africa and South America, so there is a lot of potential and a lot at stake beyond the western regions where Instagram and Facebook. dominate. The slow and steady approach to development can make sense if it provides the kind of strong trade supply capable of meeting the demands of rapidly growing emerging markets.
The company appears to be learning from its experience last year with the limited rollout of WhatsApp Pay, which was launched in India and has lifted some regulatory hurdles with Brazil’s central bank. Insiders familiar with the company’s thinking have described the complexity of managing the payment infrastructure as a “marathon, not a sprint,” and this could apply to its broader business development as well.