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WhatsApp taking cues from Instagram? Messaging app finally gets a catalog feature

The new WhatsApp tool stops short as transactions still occur elsewhere.

Reuters|
Nov 08, 2019, 11.26 AM IST
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Agencies
ET's dualpane - 2019-11-08T100037.916
Earlier, Facebook added a shopping feature to Instagram in March that lets users click a "checkout" option on items tagged for sale and pay for them directly within the app.
SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc on Thursday launched a catalog feature for its WhatsApp messaging app, it said in a blog post, building out the service's e-commerce tools as it moves slowly toward monetizing the app it bought in 2014 for $19 billion.

Facebook has been trying to boost revenue from higher-growth units like Instagram and Whatsapp, which has 1.5 billion users. The company's flagship News Feed product continues to draw big ad dollars, but is struggling to generate new users.

The move comes after Facebook added a shopping feature to Instagram in March that lets users click a "checkout" option on items tagged for sale and pay for them directly within the app.

The new WhatsApp tool stops short of that, as transactions still occur elsewhere. But small businesses, the main users of the free WhatsApp Business app, can now display a "mobile storefront" showcasing their wares with images and prices.

"We're opening commerce as a new chapter," Amrit Pal, a product manager at WhatsApp, told Reuters. "We hear from businesses every day that WhatsApp is where they meet their customers, rather than sending them to a website."

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to shift the company's focus to private chats, adding bots and augmented reality tools in recent years to encourage businesses to communicate with consumers on its messaging services.

Facebook said last year that it would start charging businesses for sending marketing and customer service messages on WhatsApp at a fixed rate for confirmed delivery, ranging from 0.5 cents to 9 cents per message depending on the country.

More than 100 businesses are now using that paid product, according to a WhatsApp spokesman, while around 5 million use the free WhatsApp Business service. Facebook has not disclosed revenue from its business messaging efforts.

WhatsApp's catalog feature is available for users in Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Britain and the United States and will be rolled out around the world in the next few weeks, said the spokesman.

New Look, Facebook Dating: Big Announcements From F8

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The Future Is Private

1 May, 2019
After a tumultuous 2018, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stressed on a privacy-focused social network at the Facebook F8 developer conference this year. In the keynote, Zuckerberg said that they are pushing hard on helping people to connect with close family and friends. He unveiled a revamped and redesigned version of Facebook, called the FB5 which aims at making navigation easier, improve the loading time and giving the user a cleaner appearance. The updated mobile app is rolling out now. The desktop version will be released in the next few months. Along with changes to the core app, Facebook also announced updates to Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Oculus Quest and Rift S virtual reality headsets — and introduced a new feature, Facebook Dating. Here's a look at all things new.
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