WhatsApp launches a separate app for small businesses
Aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, the app offers relatively basic features. For example, marketers will still need to manually type their messages instead of automating conversations through chatbots. And the app only offers general analytics, such as how many messages have been sent, delivered, read and received.
Marketers can use the app to create business-specific WhatsApp profiles that can feature a description of the business and its category, as well as its email address, physical address (which will be shown on a map), hours of operation and a link to its site. WhatsApp will distinguish companies’ profiles as “Business Accounts” within its app. Eventually, it will add its own form of verified profiles, called “Confirmed Accounts, “once it’s been confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number,” according to the company blog post.
WhatsApp has taken into account that businesses’ phone numbers typically correspond to a landline, not a cell phone. Businesses can link their accounts to a landline phone number so that people can message or call a business using that number through WhatsApp.
The app will enable marketers to more easily manage their conversations with customers. Businesses can create welcome messages and set away messages when they are unable to respond. They can also configure so-called “quick replies,” in which a business sets a keyword shortcut that corresponds to a longer message so that it can type “/hours” instead of “We are open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Sunday through Saturday.” Businesses will also be able to send and receive messages through WhatsApp’s desktop site.
Business accounts will be clearly listed as such. WhatsApp says over time, businesses that have confirmed their account phone number matches their business one will receive a confirmation badge on their profile. That’s similar to WhatsApp adding green verification badges to select business accounts last year in the standard app. WhatsApp says other users can continue to use the standard app as usual and will still have full control over the messages they receive like blocking numbers and reporting spam.
WhatsApp Business is free and available to download now for Android users, though there’s no mention of an iOS release yet. WhatsApp Business is currently available in Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the US, with a global rollout scheduled in the coming weeks.