Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has introduced two new features aimed at helping businesses stay in touch with customers and allowing them to easily showcase their products.
The first feature allows customers to start a chat with a business by scanning a QR code that is displayed by a business at their storefront, product packaging, or receipt. The QR code will then open a chat, with an option for businesses to create a pre-populated message when the conversation is started.
This will replace the previous process that required people to add a WhatsApp number of a business to their contacts one number at a time.
In addition, WhatsApp has introduced a function to enable businesses to share their catalogues and individual products as links on websites, Facebook, Instagram, through the QR Code feature, and elsewhere.
"Catalogues allow businesses to showcase the goods or services they offer, which can help close sales," the company said in a blog post.
"Since launching last year, catalogues have become a popular way for people to engage with a business on WhatsApp. In fact, more than 40 million people view a business catalogue on WhatsApp each month."
Both features are available to businesses globally using the WhatsApp Business app or WhatsApp Business API.
There are currently more than 50 million WhatsApp Business app users.
Earlier this year, research uncovered how the majority of consumers in Brazil choose to interact with brands via WhatsApp.
The Facebook-owned app is present in 99% of all smartphones in the country, according to the study into messaging in Brazil, carried out by Opinion Box and Mobile Time and commissioned by communication services firm Infobip.
Some 77% of WhatsApp users in Brazil communicate with companies through the app to ask questions and ask for additional information about commercial offerings. About 65% of those polled want to get technical support through the app, while 61% want to receive special offers and discounts.
At the end of last year, the messaging platform warned it would clamp down on the abuse of business features for bulk messaging with the enforcement of legal action.
"WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform," the firm said
"Nothing in this announcement limits WhatsApp's right to enforce its terms using technology, such as banning accounts based on machine-learning classifiers, and WhatsApp will continue to do so."