As Christmas shopping enters full swing -- and with upcoming Boxing Day sales to consider -- the move will give businesses that are using WhatsApp as a communication channel with customers the chance to tap into additional revenue by offering a quick way for customers to make a purchase.
Announced on Tuesday, Facebook said that "with more and more shopping happening through chats, we want to make buying and selling even easier."
When you are trying to ensure you make a sale as a business, removing obstacles between a customer selecting an item, adding to a shopping basket, and offering payment, is an important factor.
If barriers are introduced, the likelihood of a sale going through reduces, and introducing e-commerce purchase channels to messaging sessions already underway may help companies secure additional business.
According to Facebook, WhatsApp is "fast becoming a store counter to discuss products and coordinate sales," and so carts could assist businesses in online order fulfillment.
"Carts are great when messaging businesses that typically sell multiple items at once, like a local restaurant or clothing store," the company says. "With carts, people can browse a catalog, select multiple products, and send the order as one message to the business. This will make it simpler for businesses to keep track of order inquiries, manage requests from customers, and close sales."
In order to use the cart function as a customer, you can go to the chat or business profile of a business to access their catalog. Once you've selected items you want to order, you select "add to cart," or alternatively, you can pick "message business" to send a query concerning a particular item. Updated carts with multiple items can also be sent as a single message session to a participating business.
WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook in 2014, operates a freemium model. The founders chose not to implement advertising from the outset and so users are kept from being bombarded with ads -- unlike many other social media platforms or messaging services -- and, for now at least, revenue is generated through WhatsApp for Business, a paid-for version of the app.
The new carts feature may be enough to lure new business clients into signing up, especially given WhatsApp's popularity with the general public. As of July 2020, WhatsApp recorded over 50 million business users.
Carts is now available on iOS and Android and is rolling out worldwide.