WhatsApp Business was launched globally today, and the app will be available in India in coming weeks.
The much-awaited WhatsApp Business app was officially launched globally on Thursday.
Last year, Whatspp had announced it had begun work on an app focused specifically for businesses, and had recently started verifying business accounts on its platform.
In an official statement, Whatsapp said:
“People all around the world use WhatsApp to connect with small businesses they care about — from online clothing companies in India to auto parts stores in Brazil. But WhatsApp was built for people and we want to improve the business experience. For example, by making it easier for businesses to respond to customers, separating customer and personal messages, and creating an official presence.”
Further, the company stated that WhatsApp Business will be available for free to download on Google Play only in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and the US immediately.
The Indian team confirmed to YourStory that the app will be released in spurts, and will be available in India in the coming weeks. However, they didn’t mention a specific timeline.
Designed with the intent to make it easier and convenient for companies to connect with customers, as well as for businesses to chat with customers, WhatsApp has introduced the following features:
- Business Profiles
Which will help customers with useful information such as a business description, email or store addresses, and website.
- Messaging Tools
Will save time with smart messaging tools — quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you're busy.
- Messaging Statistics
Will help businesses review simple metrics like the number of messages read to see what's working.
- Account Type
This will help users know that they're talking to a business which will be listed as a Business Account. Over time, some businesses will have Confirmed Accounts once it’s confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number.
Just like WhatsApp messenger, WhatsApp Web will have similar functionalities which will allow users to send and receive messages with WhatsApp Business on their desktop.
So, will anything change for the users of WhatsApp?
No. WhatsApp states that people can continue using WhatsApp as usual. Further, there's no need to download anything new.
Another important point is that users will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block any number, including businesses, as well as report spam.
How important is India?
Speaking about India, WhatsApp states that according to its estimation, close to 84 percent of Indian SMBs think WhatsApp helps them communicate with customers, and 80 percent of SMBs think WhatsApp helps them grow their business.
Last year, WhatsApp was running a select beta with Indian internet players including BookMyShow and redBus which allowed them to access specific WhatsApp APIs to send ticket confirmations to customers.
Recently, GoIbibo also leveraged the same.
However, that was a closed beta. With today’s announcement, WhatsApp is making WhatsApp Business formal and launching a separate app for the same. However, as quoted earlier, nothing would change for the general WhatsApp users except for having business-related accounts on their WhatsApp.
Looking at the massive size of its user base, Facebook bought WhatsApp, in 2014 for about $19 billion.
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