Many businesses around the world have expanded their online shopping options during the Coronavirus pandemic. To accommodate businesses fostering virtual connections, Facebook-owned WhatsApp launched a new QR code tool.
WhatsApp debuted its new QR tool for small businesses that, when scanned by a customer, opens a chat page with a range of pre-selected questions to help spark a conversation. Businesses can add QR codes to their product packaging, receipts, or storefronts for consumers to scan in-person or online. Whereas customers used to physically add a business phone number into WhatsApp to begin a chat, they can now scan the QR code and be taken directly to a seller’s messaging page.
As part of the business integration on WhatsApp, pages can now include product catalogs and links to other social media profiles, such as a brand’s Instagram page or website. Small businesses have had the option for a while to create a business profile on WhatsApp, but the new additions could now turn business profiles into primary e-commerce channels. The features could help customers feel more connected with a seller, while also aiding businesses in growing their online presence following store closures during the Coronavirus pandemic. Although QR codes are not a new invention, the growing appeal of a touchless experience during the crisis has led many businesses and mobile apps to recently embrace the tool. WhatsApp’s new features are available for businesses and customers around the world, which could help small businesses reach a wider audience, especially since WhatsApp currently leads in total global downloads according to a Gartner report on the topic.
WhatsApp’s feature enhancements follow a similar path to sister-brands Facebook and Instagram, both of which have steadily released tools during the pandemic to help small businesses. While Facebook released a “Businesses Nearby” tool, Instagram focused on its Stories feature by letting users add donation stickers for small businesses hit hard economically amidst the crisis. Notably, WhatsApp itself has also stayed active during the pandemic by working with the World Health Organization to send up-to-date health and news alerts to its millions of daily users on topics such as city closures and testing site locations.
Enabling QR code functionality and product catalogs allows WhatsApp to serve as a meeting point for businesses and customers around the world. The updates could also further Facebook’s developing trend of meshing social media with e-commerce shopping, helping the tech giant become a go-to source for virtual shopping and customer service.