FACEBOOK-OWNED WhatsApp, as expected, has launched a dedicated app for business users.
WhatsApp Business is making its debut, unusually, on Android and is available to download from today in the UK, US, Indonesia, Italy and Mexico.
"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 firm said in a blog post announcing the app's launch.
"But WhatsApp was built for people and we want to improve the business experience. For example, by making it easier for businesses to respond to customers, separating customer and personal messages, and creating an official presence."
The WhatsApp Business app, which is free to download at Google Play, is aimed squarely at small businesses and is designed to help said businesses connect with customers.
Companies can create Business Profiles, for example, that provides users with info such as business description, email or store addresses, and website. Over time, WhatsApp says it will equip some businesses with 'Confirmed Accounts', likely a similar feature to Twitter's verification process, once the company's phone number has been validated.
WhatsApp Business users will also be equipped with smart messaging tools, including "quick replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you're busy", along with metrics such as how many messages have been read.
It remains unclear how WhatsApp plans to monetise the app, but the firm seems confident that it'll help businesses grow so it's likely got a plan to line its pockets
"Over 80 per cent of small businesses in India and Brazil say WhatsApp helps them both communicate with customers and grow their business today (Source: Morning Consult study)," it boasts. "And WhatsApp Business will make it easier for people to connect with them, and vice versa, in a fast and simple way."
WhatsApp says it plans to roll out its biz-focused app to other countries in the "coming weeks", and has confirmed that an iPhone version is also in the works. µ
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