Whatsapp for Business will open with cloud API and offer custom URLs
WhatsApp for Business is opening up to all businesses and developers with the new, easier-to-use cloud-hosted version of its API, Meta announced Thursday. The messaging platform will also roll out premium features for the approximately 50 million users of its small business app, including the ability to create a custom URL that customers can contact.
“We had the WhatsApp API available for large enterprises, but it was a complex product to get started. You have to have someone implement the software for you, host it for you, and maintain the software for you. you. And it’s a lot of complexity and burden to get started. The cloud-hosted version of the WhatsApp API removes all that complexity and you can get started in just minutes,” said Matt Idema, VP Business Messaging, Meta at indianexpress.com when calling from California.
Idema said the new platform will be something to graduate with “whether you’re an individual developer, working on your own entrepreneurial project, or a small business.” He said the new API means “partners can focus on building the tools and services they want to provide customers on top of WhatsApp” and WhatsApp can take over installation, maintenance and hosting. of the API from their plate.
The custom URL option rolled out for business users, Idema said, is “very similar to how you have a URL for your webpage or a name for your app.” He added that small businesses would also benefit from a multi-device capability allowing multiple phones to handle the same WhatsApp number. It’s a feature that many small businesses have been asking us for a long time, he added.
WhatsApp thinks it’s all part of a natural evolution and users want businesses to be part of their messaging experience. A lot of the learnings came from India, one of its biggest markets with over 400 million users. “Small business owners were already using WhatsApp, they put numbers in their stores, they asked customers to just text when they needed to get groceries,” he recalls, adding that they didn’t have not built the tools that facilitated this conversation for businesses. .
“It all started with the belief that people wanted this because that’s what we saw in using the app, and we slowly introduced features to make that possible. We think it’s a natural part of what people want to do within the framework of WhatsApp. And it is especially during the pandemic, we have seen that it has been incredibly useful, ”he explained.
But it was done by making sure people felt in control. “If the conversation is a conversation they no longer want to have, they can control it. We need to make sure that we build systems to ensure that the experience of talking to a business remains high quality,” he said. he said, also making it clear that companies don’t want to make the messaging experience with them bad either.
Most of the features are a result of what companies were asking for and what WhatsApp saw that they were using the services for. “I remember meeting a lot of them in Mumbai and Delhi and they would show us that they would take us to their stores and show us how they had to hire an extra person just to answer all those WhatsApp messages. And most of the time it’s the same question or they send me a picture or how big is it,” Idema explained of how they started building tools to allow the business owner to answer more easily to common questions.
Then came the next step of the company wanting “a profile that looks different from what a regular user of the consumer app might do.” This led to the introduction of company profiles followed by catalogs which made it easy for companies to upload their product photos and answer basic questions. “We just kept listening especially to what small businesses were asking us for and adding those tools to the product. That’s part of the reason we’re so excited about the premium offerings. They are like power tools for businesses that really work on WhatsApp. The vanity URL feature will be a tool to promote their business on Facebook and Instagram with click-to-message ads, Idema explained.
The ability to make payments in WhatsApp will also be an important part of this. “We’ve put so much time and energy into making it possible to use Payments in WhatsApp. You have a great conversation with a business that you decide to buy the product from and you just want it to be easy. You just want type and pay digitally. And that’s UPI’s promise. We’re very happy to have invested in it and hope that by making it available for businesses as well, it will be really valuable for consumers,” he said. he declares.