Just days after its initial rollout, the WhatsApp Business app has now debuted in India. The standalone app offers a simple tool for small businesses to let them communicate with their clients and customers in an easy way. Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced the plans to kick off its WhatsApp for Business initiative back in September last year and launched a pilot by partnering with companies such as BookMyShow, Netflix, and MakeMyTrip. The new app, for small businesses, arrived first in a handful of markets, including Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the UK, and the US, on Friday. Interestingly, the app was initially tested in India and Brazil ahead of its public release.
The WhatsApp Business app is now available for free download via Google Play in India. It is compatible with devices running Android 4.0.3 and above. A version with similar features is also expected to be available for iOS devices in the coming future.
"WhatsApp Business", asks for a separate phone number from the one users have for their individual WhatsApp account.
"People all around the world use WhatsApp to connect with small businesses they care about from online clothing companies in India to auto parts stores in Brazil," the Facebook-owned app had said in an earlier statement.
"WhatsApp Business will make it easier for people to connect with them, and vice versa, in a fast and simple way," the company added.
Targeted at small businesses, the WhatsApp Business app allows companies to connect with their customers and be a part of the messaging platform that has over 1.3 billion users worldwide. Unlike the original WhatsApp app, the business-centric offering allows businesses to create their own profiles with information such as business description, email, or store addresses, and website. It also provides smart messaging tools to let businesses use quick replies and give fast answers to frequently asked questions. The app also has options to send greetings messages to new customers and set away messages when the companies are busy. Further, there are metrics such as the number of messages read and WhatsApp Web support to let companies send and receive messages directly through a desktop.
"People will know that they're talking to a business because you will be listed as a Business Account. Over time, some businesses will have Confirmed Accounts once it's been confirmed that the account phone number matches the business phone number," WhatsApp said.
People can continue using WhatsApp as usual as there's no need to download anything new.
"People will continue to have full control over the messages they receive, with the ability to block any number, including businesses, as well as report spam," the company added.
According to WhatsApp, 84 per cent of SMBs in India think that app helps them communicate with customers, which explains why the company is focusing on this segment. WhatsApp also plans to add bigger enterprises to its services and these might be monetised in the future.
As per the official data provided in February last year, WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users in India. The instant messaging platform is making things difficult for its rival by introducing compelling features such as Delete for Everyone, YouTube integration, and Notification Channel support for Android Oreo devices. Moreover, it is exploring new avenues and is apparently even set to integrate a UPI payments feature in the near future.