WhatsApp today announced that it is now planning on bringing its messaging expertise to the world of business. More specifically, it is launching new tools designed to allow businesses to make use of the WhatsApp service to keep in touch with their customers. As WhatsApp put it, the company wants to help “people connect with businesses that are important to them” in the same way it has helped “people connect with each other.”
As part of this business-focused expansion, WhatsApp announced that it is specifically testing two new tools for businesses. The first is what WhatsApp refer to as a “a free WhatsApp Business app” which seems to be primarily designed for smaller businesses and companies looking for a more business-oriented WhatsApp solution. On the other hand, the second tool is an “enterprise solution” and one which is clearly aimed at ‘big business’ with those companies able to take advantage of significantly improved and richer features, although possibly at a cost. Some of those features suggested by WhatsApp include the ability to provide customers with notifications on aspects like “flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates.” With examples of companies that are more in-keeping with this larger and likely paid-for solution being airlines, banks, and e-commerce sites.
At present, WhatsApp has not provided any direct information on when end-users can expect to see these features going live at their end. With the announcement specifically noting that WhatsApp is taking its time with the testing phase to ensure the service works as well as it should. Noting that it will be working closely with those companies involved in the testing phase and listening to their feedback before embarking on a wider rolling out of the feature(s). Although in either case, it should be expected that as time goes on, more business-like features such as ‘verified business profiles’ will start to show up for WhatsApp users. In fact, some users may have already started noticing ‘verified business’ profiles going live, as this was something that was previously seen showing up in the FAQ section of the beta version of the Android app. With the information noting that profiles which come with a green tick attached have been verified as a business. With the information also providing details on how WhatsApp users can block businesses from contacting them directly. An aspect which was reiterated in today’s announcement.