Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp has started testing a new business directory feature within its mobile application.
The capability will help users of the service find businesses in their area – active through a separate WhatsApp Business app – and connect with them for products or services, Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, said in a tweet.
“This will help you find and contact local businesses, like your neighbourhood coffee shop, florist, clothing store and more,” Cathcart said, noting that the feature will not log the location selected by the user or the stores they explore.
Currently, the feature is live only for users in São Paulo, Brazil, but will soon be expanded to other regions and types of businesses, he added.
Matt Idema, Facebook’s vice-president of business messaging, said in a Reuters report that India and Indonesia were the next candidates to get the feature.
The directory comes as another effort from Facebook to boost e-commerce on WhatsApp.
Previously, the platform had introduced business-focused features such as the ability to display a product catalogue and add items from it into a cart, which could be sent as a message for placing an order.
The Facebook-owned company has also integrated UPI payments within its app to let users pay for goods and services within the app.
Even the main Facebook app and Instagram offer tools to let users set up their online storefront and sell directly to customers.
According to stats from early 2021, more than 175 million people message a WhatsApp Business account every day and more than 3 million people in India view a business catalog each month.
These numbers continue to grow as the need to shop online surges around the world due to the pandemic.