WhatsApp is enhancing its shopping experience for both merchants and users with the introduction of a new feature called Flows. Flows allows users to complete tasks such as booking appointments or selecting seating arrangements without leaving the app. Merchants will have access to building blocks like a text box, calendar, and seat picker to create these interactive experiences. WhatsApp plans to make these tools available to businesses in the near future.
Flows has been tested with several businesses including Brazilian bank Banco Pan, retailer MagaLu, Lenovo, Indian travel service Redbus, India-based bank SBI, and car reselling platform Spinny. These tests have helped WhatsApp refine the feature and ensure that it can cater to various use cases such as product customization, appointment scheduling, form filling, and event registration.
Nikila Srinivasan, VP of business messaging at Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, explained that Flows is part of the company’s efforts to build rich experiences within chat threads. While the initial focus is on e-commerce businesses, WhatsApp aims to bring these immersive experiences to other types of businesses as well.
WhatsApp is not charging merchants separately for using Flows. Instead, the conversations conducted through Flows will align with the current payment model, which charges businesses based on different categories like marketing, utility, authentication, and service.
In addition to Flows, WhatsApp is introducing new payment partners in India to enhance the checkout experience for users. WhatsApp has teamed up with payment gateway providers Razorpay and PayU, allowing users to make payments through various UPI apps, as well as credit and debit cards. This move is geared towards encouraging end-to-end shopping experiences and increasing frequent business transactions on the platform.
Earlier this year, WhatsApp introduced merchant payment options in Brazil and Singapore. The company’s revenue from its Business app relies on merchants engaging in more conversations and completing transactions. With the introduction of Flows and expanded payment support in India, WhatsApp aims to foster seamless shopping experiences and drive increased business activity on the platform.
WhatsApp continues to innovate and enhance its offerings for businesses. The personalized messages feature for merchants, announced in June, is currently being tested. This feature enables businesses to send customized messages, such as discounts and offers, to select customers, further boosting the potential for increased sales and engagement on the platform.