Since its acquisition by Meta (then Facebook), WhatsApp has set out to dominate the world. Zimbabwe may not have been on the top of their list, but they have certainly achieved dominance in our country. Many features have been brought to the application. While some are derivative, at best, others have truly made a difference. Recent changes to WhatsApp business now allow customers to make orders via your WhatsApp Business catalogue.

WhatsApp Business

We recently published an article acquainting people with some of the features of WhatsApp Business. Amongst those, we talked about the catalogue and how it had the power to unlock things for businesses. Instead of endless questions about products, you could direct prospects to the catalogue, where they do their own research and come back to you with an informed opinion. You answer higher-level questions like payment methods and delivery issues.

Ordering through WhatsApp Busines

Well, WhatsApp Business accounts now have a cart function similar to eCommerce websites. Through this cart function, people going through your WhatsApp business catalogue can select the products they want in the quantities they want and send you the complete list as an order. The in-app functionality ends there, so you will have to follow up with the prospect to convert them to a client. It does, however, give you a storefront.

As the Zimbabwean technology website TechZim has pointed out on many occasions, WhatsApp is Zimbabwe’s (or an) internet. It’s true. With groups where people make requests all the time that a simple Google search could solve, you start to realise that with the combination of WhatsApp bundles, the cost of browsing outside of a bundle and WhatsApp communities, people can use WhatsApp as the internet or an internet in Zimbabwe. This presents a major opportunity for the application.

eCommerce Store Front

As someone who has worked in a business that does web design, I understand the struggle for businesses when it comes to going online. It comes with associated and sometimes hidden costs. The skills needed to get your business online are expensive, and if you look for bargains, you are often short-changed if anything is delivered. It’s also really complex, not just creating but managing and updating the storefront. So it’s very difficult for small businesses to make this leap.

What WhatsApp Business is providing here are 24-hour eCommerce storefronts. They are available to all people with access to WhatsApp. And this truly puts your business on the Internet. Available for people to browse anytime. If you do your part in providing good descriptions and pictures where they apply, you will have a very easy time managing the storefront.

Remember WhatsApp Pay?

Now, of course, this is only partial eCommerce without integrated payments. It’s still eCommerce, and it is the way much of our business is done in Zimbabwe. WhatsApp, however, had a vision that was WhatsApp pay. They tried to launch this in Brazil and were blocked. The changes they have been making lately suggest that the vision is not forgotten.

You can also connect your WhatsApp Business Account to your Facebook and Instagram pages. The other two, while less appealing, still serve very well. I can’t help but think of Sasai and its struggles in breaking through when digesting this WhatsApp news.