The company is also offering hosting services so smaller brands can “sell products, keep their inventory up to date, and quickly respond to messages.”
Earlier this year, Facebook confirmed that it had abandoned its plans to push ads into WhatsApp Status, the Stories-type feature of the app, while other attempts to include paid promotions had also largely fallen flat, making the app difficult to monetise.
Facebook is now adopting a new approach. expanding its in-app shopping options, and give brands new tools for managing their interactions to maximize its business potential. But it will also start charging fees for some advanced functions.
In a press statement, Facebook said: “WhatsApp has become a simple and convenient resource in this time. More than 175 million people every day message a WhatsApp Business account. Our research shows people prefer to message a business to get help and they’re more likely to make a purchase when they can do so.”
“We will expand ways for people to check out available products and make purchases right from a chat. We also want to make it easier for businesses to integrate these features into their existing commerce and customer solutions. This will help many small businesses who have been most impacted in this time.”
This is how easy we think messaging a business should be – seeing a store’s catalog in a chat, adding an item to your cart, placing your order and getting fast responses to questions. We are looking forward to bringing these experiences to more people on WhatsApp! pic.twitter.com/nkJyC3dOzg
— WhatsApp Inc. (@WhatsApp) October 22, 2020
Facebook hosting WhatsApp messages for businesses
In addition to this, WhatsApp’s also looking to provide a new option for businesses to manage their WhatsApp messages via Facebook’s hosting services.
“We’re announcing a new way for businesses to store and manage their WhatsApp chats with customers using Facebook’s secure hosting infrastructure which will roll out early next year. This will make it easier to onboard to WhatsApp Business API, allow them to respond to WhatsApp messages faster, keep their inventory up to date and sell products through chats.”
“If a business chooses to use a third-party vendor to operate the WhatsApp Business API on their behalf, we do not consider that to be end-to-end encrypted since the business you are messaging has chosen to give a third-party vendor access to those messages. This will also be the case if that third-party vendor is Facebook.”
WhatsApp will include new notifications on consumer-to-business exchanges conducted through Facebook hosting.
“We will charge business customers for some of the services we offer, which will help WhatsApp continue building a business of our own while we provide and expand free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling for more than two billion people.”
What, exactly, WhatsApp will begin charging for, and how much, is not clear at this stage, but it looks like Facebook will be seeking to monetize WhatsApp by charging small fees for merchants, as opposed to pushing ads in-stream.