Viber announced that it will soon update its popular instant messaging (IM) app with an eCommerce framework that will allow users to discover brands, products, and make purchases directly within the app without ever leaving their chat windows. Viber developed the new feature together with its parent company Rakuten, a Japanese Internet giant with years of experience in eCommerce, the firm revealed in a press release published on Thursday. The IM app will be updated with a shopping feature in March, though an exact release date is still unknown at this point.
Viber says that the decision to integrate a shopping platform into its IM app was prompted by numerous studies that found shopping is one of the most common activities on smartphones and tablets. The company revealed that approximately 66 percent of all mobile users engage in shopping-related activities on their smartphones and tablets at least once per week. Furthermore, most contemporary mobile shopping solutions are complicated and exhausting, Viber said, adding that the company took it upon itself to come up with a better platform that's both entertaining and social. Viber's in-app shopping platform won't require taking screenshots and copying and pasting text, the firm promised. While the company didn't go into a lot of details regarding how its upcoming eCommerce solution will work, it did share several screenshots depicting the new feature in action. As you can see below, Viber users will be able to start discovering brands and products by tapping a shopping bag icon located in the toolbar on the bottom of a chat window. Apart from purchasing products, the feature will also allow users to easily share any product with a person or a group they're currently talking to, the screenshots reveal.
The idea of turning an IM app into a shopping tool isn't completely new seeing how Facebook has been pursuing a similar goal for a while now with its Messenger app. Still, it remains to be seen whether consumers will embrace the idea and even if they do - will they choose Viber to fulfill their mobile shopping needs. In any case, more information on Viber's upcoming eCommerce platform is bound to follow in the coming weeks.