WhatsApp is piloting a new feature that lists small local businesses in a directory searchable by users looking for local shops and services.
In a Tweet last week, head of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart, announced that the company is piloting a new business directory feature that lets users find local shops and services with a presence on the app. The pilot program is set to begin the experimental launch in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The announcement posts screenshots of the upcoming directory, which show how WhatsApp will sort “Businesses Nearby” by category. As a recent Reuters report mentions, the company will list thousands of businesses in the Brazilian capital – the first time WhatsApp offers users a way to search for local businesses within its app.
We’re kicking this off in São Paulo which is home to millions of small businesses. For those who aren't in São Paulo to try it out, here's what it looks like: pic.twitter.com/cMu9DwlUYw
— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) September 15, 2021
In recent years, the Facebook-owned messaging service has seen a major growth in popularity for its business account service, with WhatsApp Business accounts reaching 175 million daily users globally last year.
Since the standalone app was first launched in 2018, the messaging company has been increasingly refining the experience, expanding support for product catalogues, shopping carts, and even in-app payments in certain countries.
It is probably in light of these events that Cathcart states in the announcement that WhatsApp is not logging users’ location or which businesses they browse when using the new directory feature.
The pilot program is currently limited to the city of Sao Paulo in Brazil – although the company says that India and Indonesia might be the next potential candidates for the future expansion of the feature.
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