The e-commerce industry in South Africa has experienced a boom since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — and Black Friday was no exception….
Popular instant messaging platform, WhatsApp plans to add on additional features for SMEs and startups to market and sell their products via the platform.
WhatsApp plans to develop new features to support SMEs and startups
The new proposed features aim to provide seamless communication between consumers and business owners. This will allow consumers to purchase products directly from SMEs and startups.
WhatsApp made an official statement commenting on how Covid-19 exposed flaws in how businesses communicate with consumers.
“The global pandemic has made clear that businesses need fast and efficient ways to service their customers and make sales. WhatsApp has become a simple and convenient resource in this time. More than 175 million people every day message a WhatsApp Business account. Our research shows people prefer to message a business to get help and they’re more likely to make a purchase when they can do so.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic it became clear that the eCommerce market has developed. Consumers searched for convenient and affordable businesses with a wide range of options to shop from, all from the comfort of their own home.
Importance of eCommerce during Covid-19
Economic activities continued during the pandemic, however, adjustments were made by businesses in order to sustain themselves during this critical time.
Ecommerce allows people to sustain their economic activities as businesses are creating new features to make shopping more convenient.
Services such as; click and collect, automated subscriptions to online stores and personal shopping options have rapidly emerged this year. This increases competition in the marketplace but also leads to more cybercrimes and data theft.
Covid-19 resulted in the growing use of e-commerce as many businesses turned home-based, to provide continuity for enterprises to sustain themselves.
Developments in the pipeline
WhatsApp plans to invest in various developments such as a browsing feature, where users will be able to look at available products from businesses and make purchases directly via a chat with the business. In addition, Facebook is offering hosting services for businesses who need help managing WhatsApp messages. This feature will help startups monitor inventory and response time as well as make more sales.
WhatsApp explained that there will be a fee for some of the services they plan to implement for users. This fee will be applicable in order to assist in the growth of businesses.
“We will charge business customers for some of the services we offer, which will help WhatsApp continue building a business of our own while we provide and expand free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling for more than two billion people”
The popularity of eCommerce during Covid-19 has proved to help small businesses, who have been heavily impacted, improve commerce and customer solutions through digital touchpoints across web, mobile, email and now WhatsApp
“We believe these additional experiences on WhatsApp meet a real need for many people and businesses whether they are around the corner or across the world. We’re excited about what lies ahead and we’ll gradually roll out these services in the months to come,” explains WhatsApp
WeChat vs WhatsApp
WeChat, developed by Tencent, was released in 2011. It is a multi-purpose Chinese application, that allows for messaging, social media and mobile payment..
Wechat introduced an option for people to buy and sell products directly by using WeChat pay. To gain access to this option, people are to make a WeChat Official Account where businesses and customers can follow preferred accounts. This is where they will receive push notifications from the accounts you follow. With the click of a button, you can access a menu connecting to a website which offers a list of products sold by the business.
WhatsApp is a free application, founded by Brian Acton and Jan Koum in 2009. It can be used across devices such as iPhones, Android smartphones, Windows Phone, Mac laptops and Windows PC. It allows users to send messages, pictures, videos, audio and voice recordings. It also has voice and video call features. With this most recent move to increase investment into developing further eCommerce tools for businesses via WhatsApp, the popular instant messaging platform is heading in a similar direction to that of WeChat.
Featured image: Mika Baumeister via Unsplash