WhatsApp adds shopping cart to make in-app buying easy

Social commerce is becoming a key strategy for retailers, targeting a captive, targeted audience as they are engaged within an app.
10 December 2020

2020 – Social media as a checkout counter. Source: Pexels

  • Whatsapp has added a new shopping cart feature in its app around the world ahead of the holiday shopping season
  • Social shopping gives a break from the usual complex purchase journey on e-commerce sites that often involves redirecting from one platform to another 

There used to be a time when businesses only used social media as a tool for building brand awareness and engaging with customers. These days, each social media platform addresses e-commerce differently. From Instagram to Facebook, Pinterest, and even TikTok, what they have in common is streamlining the process, requiring fewer clicks to buy than most websites, and leveraging our ‘addiction’ to social media. 

That said, the relationship between social media and shopping has changed dramatically over the past years, and brands and retailers are exploring ways to optimize that, providing new levels of convenience for customers. 

The most recent development within the social commerce scene involves the Facebook-owned messaging app Whatsapp. This week, WhatsApp began to incorporate the function of shopping carts for businesses, offering a new intuitive experience for users that allows companies to keep track of orders and increase their sales. 

It works in conjunction with the service’s existing catalogs feature. Now, while browsing a business’s wares, you can add multiple items to your shopping cart and send the entire order in a single message, replacing the back-and-forth communication that needed to happen previously. The tool is made available worldwide for iPhone and Android. 

This move allows Whatsapp to court more merchants and invites a larger portion of its 2 billion user base to shop. As for the WhatsApp Business app, it had over 50 million users worldwide as of July this year.

Social commerce is becoming a key strategy for retailers, targeting a captive, targeted audience as they are engaged within an app. According to the Global Digital Report 2019, there are 4.4 billion social media users worldwide with 90.4% of them millennials, 77.5% of Gen X, and 48.2% of baby boomers. Users spend an average of 3 hours per day on social networks and messaging. 

Research cited in Bloomberg Businessweek showed that social shopping made up about 3% of all online sales in the US in 2018. In China, meanwhile, it’s gaining traction, accounting for 8.5% of sales in 2017 and forecast to grow to 15% by 2022. Social commerce could account for a fifth of all online sales in China or US$166 billion by 2023.

Analysis by Business Insider suggests that the growth of social commerce sales will also be aided by small businesses that had not relied heavily on e-commerce prior to the pandemic, but are shifting focus to mitigate the loss of brick-and-mortar foot traffic. “This could incentivize more businesses to use social media to drive e-commerce sales via social networks, in turn giving consumers more products to shop for via social channels.”