WhatsApp Business is opening up to all businesses and developers, including the new easy-to-use cloud-hosted version of its API, Meta announced Thursday. The messaging platform will also roll out premium features to the 50 million-odd users of its small business app, including the ability to create a vanity URL to reach customers.
“We had the WhatsApp API available for larger businesses, but it’s a complex product to start with. You have to have someone to implement the software for you, you have to host it for you and maintain the software for you. And it takes a lot of complexity and understanding to get started. The cloud-hosted version of the WhatsApp API eliminates all those complications and you can get started in just a few minutes, “said Matt Idema, vice president, business messaging, Meta, California.
Idema says the new platform will be something like graduating for “you are an individual developer, working on your own or a small company’s entrepreneurial project”. He said the new API means “partners can focus on creating the tools and services that WhatsApp wants to provide to customers” and “we can take the installation, maintenance and hosting of the API from their plate”.
The custom URL option is being rolled out to business users, Idema said, “very similar to how a URL for your web page or a name for your app is.” With that, he says, small businesses will also get multi-device capabilities, allowing multiple phones to handle the same WhatsApp number. This is a feature that many small businesses have been asking for a long time, he added.
WhatsApp believes that this is part of a natural evolution and users want business to be part of their messaging experience. One of its largest markets with over 400 million users, much has been learned from India “Small business owners were already using WhatsApp, they were putting numbers in their stores, they were just asking customers to message them when they needed their groceries,” he recalled, adding that they did not create tools at the time to facilitate the conversation. Business
“It all started with a belief that people wanted it because that’s what we’ve been seeing in the use of the app, and we’ve gradually introduced the ability to make it possible. We think it’s a normal part of what people want to do as part of WhatsApp. And it’s especially during the epidemic, we’ve seen it work incredibly well, “he explained.
But it has been done to make people think they are in control. “If the conversation is such that they no longer want to stay, they can control it. We need to make sure that we are building the system to ensure that the experience of talking to a business is of high quality, ”he said, adding that the qualification is that the business does not want to spoil the experience of sending messages to them.
Most features are what the business wants and what WhatsApp sees as they are using the services. “I remember meeting many of them in Mumbai and Delhi, and they would take us to their stores and show us how to hire extra people to reply to all these WhatsApp messages. And most of the time, it’s the same question, or send me a picture of it, or what size it is, “Idema explained, as they begin to build tools to make it easier for business owners to answer common questions.
Then came the next stage of the business “a profile that looks different from what a regular user of the consumer app can do”. This leads to the introduction of business profiles following the catalog, which makes it easier for businesses to upload pictures of their products and address basic questions. “We’re just listening to what small businesses in particular are asking of us and adding those tools to the product. This is one of the reasons why we are so excited about premium offers. It’s like a power tool for a business that runs on WhatsApp. ” The custom URL feature will be a tool to promote their business through click-to-message ads on Facebook and Instagram, Idema explained.
The ability to pay within WhatsApp will also be an important part of it. “We’ve spent a lot of time and energy making it possible to use payments on WhatsApp. You have a great conversation with a business, you decide you want to buy the product and you want to make it easy. You just want to tap and pay digitally. And this is the promise of UPI. We’re glad we’ve invested in it and are very hopeful that it will be really valuable to our customers as well. “