On Janurary 18, 2018, WhatsApp announced that WhatsApp Business would be available and free to download on Google Play in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and the US. The company had announced that the app would be rolling out around the world in the coming weeks. Today seems to be the day, as WhatsApp Business is currently available in India on the Google PlayStore.
According to a report by Morning Consult study, over 80 percent of small businesses in India and Brazil have said that WhatsApp (the consumer facing app) helps them both communicate with customers and grow their business. So, with WhatsApp Business the aim is to make it easier for SMEs and enterprises to connect with people and vice versa, in a fast and simple way.
How WhatsApp Business works
We downloaded and installed WhatsApp Business to get a flavour of how the platform works. Here is a quick overview. WhatsApp Business is currently free to use.
Step 1- Search for 'WhatsApp Busines' and download the app from Google Play Store.
Step 2- Accept terms and conditions without reading them.
You can always keep yourself updated and read the terms and conditions here later on.
Step 3- Register on WhatsApp business with a number that is not linked to any other WhatsApp account and enter business information.
If your number is linked to a WhatsApp account you can choose to back up that data, give up that number for personal use and flip it into a business account. Users are then required to pick a name for their business. Name once chosen cannot be changed, though.
Step 4- Start engaging with users and monitor activity
WhatsApp had mentioned that users would be able to add business description, email or store addresses, and website information. This feature is available under business settings.
This idea of an app to do business is not new in India, however.
Founded in 2015, Goodbox is an interesting player in this space that works on a 'mini app' model and helps local business connect with consumers who have their consumer-facing app.
Paytm too recently launched a standalone business app to simplify payments for merchants and help them manage their business. Truecaller and Hike are two other prominent players in the communication space that have integrated payments into their respective apps.
Truecaller has TrueSDK through which it helps businesses make the sign up process easier and also lets them send targeted ads to consumers when they receive a phone call. Hike, on the other hand, was the first communications app in India to launch UPI-enabled payments, when it launched the feature back in June 2017.
Donwload WhatsApp Business here on Android phones. iOS users can currently download WhatsApp Business by buying an Android phone.