Last January, Facebook launched WhatsApp Business, targeting small businesses looking to communicate with customers over WhatsApp. The app lets owners set up profiles with email addresses, working hours, and location details, along with a certain degree of automation: quick replies, Gmail-style labeling of conversations, and filters. This functionality had been specific to the Android app so far, but that changes today — WhatsApp Business users can now enjoy these features on the desktop and web app too.
Left: quick replies. Middle: labels. Right: filters.
While there aren't specific WhatsApp Business versions of the web and desktop apps, logging in to your business profile on the regular app lets you use this new functionality. It should be noted that there isn't complete feature parity yet — to set new quick replies or to send quick replies that have pictures in them, you will still need to use the Android app. Nevertheless, this will come as welcome news for many business owners.
WhatsApp also dropped a new statistic: over 5M small businesses now use the app regularly (larger organizations use the Business API). In many parts of the developing world, WhatsApp has been a boon for facilitating commerce. From lead generation and promotion to after-sales service and collection, WhatsApp has served as a CRM and customer-facing website rolled into one — there are even startups dedicated to making selling over WhatsApp easier. All this means we should expect new features to keep making their way to the app, and in my opinion, monetization of WhatsApp Business seems like a much better option than adding advertisements to the largely-unused Status section.