WhatsApp announced the launch of its app for businesses in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK and the US, promising to roll it out more widely in the coming weeks. Currently available for Android only, the app is free to download and is aimed at making it easier for companies to communicate with customers and create “an official presence”.
With 1.3 billion worldwide users, the Facebook-owned app hopes to also help customers get in touch with businesses.
It cited a study which found that over 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil say WhatsApp helps them grow, as well as communicate with customers.
Companies will be able to set up a profile with pertinent information and be listed as a business account, rather than a private one. Over time, the accounts can get the “confirmed” status, once it’s been verified that the account phone number matches the business phone number. New messaging tools will be at their disposal, such as the quick reply option for frequently asked questions, and greeting and away messages, which can be sent and received from the desktop through WhatsApp Web. The app will also offer simple metrics like the number of messages read. Regular WhatsApp users won’t need to download the new app to be able to contact companies, and they will be able to block any number as well as report spam. In addition, businesses will only be able to message customers who provided their phone number and agreed to receive messages from them.