WhatsApp update brings shopping catalogues to your chat app

WhatsApp is bringing shopping catalogues to its WhatsApp Business app. The software, which is an off-shoot of the original chat app designed to help customers communicate with businesses or customer service representatives using the same tools as the normal chat app, is available worldwide.

Dubbed Catalogs (yes, they’re using the American spelling), merchants on WhatsApp Business can now share a complete breakdown of their inventory that you can peruse within the same chat app window you’d usually use to speak with business owners. Weirdly, you’re not able to buy anything from the catalogue just yet.

However, given the announcement that Facebook is launching its own payment service (inventively named Facebook Pay) and that it will be coming to WhatsApp in the future, it seems more than likely that chat app users will eventually be able to buy an item from the catalogue without ever leaving WhatsApp.

But for now, WhatsApp claims the new feature is designed to help small businesses appear more professional on the app. If a merchant isn’t able to offer a slick online catalogue of all of their items, WhatsApp’s new tool should let them present their customers with a beautifully-designed catalogue of everything in-store without much effort – or programming – on their part.

“We are making it easier to learn about the products and services businesses offer with the introduction of catalogs in the WhatsApp Business app,” WhatsApp announced in a blogpost about the change.

The shopping catalogue can include a bevy of information, such as products images, prices, descriptions, and product codes. WhatsApp will host everything included in the merchant’s catalogue on its own servers, so business owners don’t need to cough-up for online store to upload high-resolution imagery and the like.

If you’re a business owner who relies on WhatsApp Business to communicate with your customers, you can create a catalogue of your items by heading to Settings > Catalog within the app. WhatsApp Business is a separate app for iPhone and Android that you’ll need to download from the relevant stores.

Shopping catalogues are currently available in the UK, United States, Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, and Mexico. WhatsApp says it will be rolling out the feature around the world very soon, so don’t worry if the feature hasn’t cropped-up in your region quite yet.

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