Indian WhatsApp users can now shop for groceries without ever leaving the messaging service. Users can text “Hi” to a certain number to access an in-app buying experience thanks to a new integration between Meta and JioMart, which was just revealed. The shopping experience resembles what Instacart and other delivery businesses have been designing for years, so it appears to be very familiar. But this place has no other apps. And that’s a major issue for WhatsApp.
Meta is certain that a significant portion of WhatsApp’s future revenue will come from business communications. (Well, that and ads, though WhatsApp is having some issues with the ads stuff.) In a Facebook article announcing the collaboration, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted that “Business messaging is an area with real momentum and chat-based experiences like this will be the go-to way people and businesses communicate in the years to come.” The JioMart integration includes everything from selection to payment to delivery within WhatsApp, with some of it being a back-and-forth chat and some of it being an in-app browser.
In the end, Meta wants WhatsApp to be a super app similar to WeChat, the only software users require to manage their entire life. Users of WeChat may purchase concert tickets, pay for food, pay their rent, and much more within the app. Any platform that can take up that much of a user’s time will almost certainly make a tonne of money through processing fees, premium services, and — you guessed it — advertising.
Although no other platform has come close to WeChat’s degree of dominance, WhatsApp has a better chance than most with its more than 2 billion users. India, which has almost 400 million subscribers, is also its most lucrative market. WhatsApp is free, uses little bandwidth, and is compatible with almost all smartphones.
Jio Platforms is the parent business of JioMart, an online retailer. Reliance, which is one of the firms behind the low-cost phones and services that have allowed many Indians to go online for the first time, owns Jio. Reliance really just stated today that by the end of next year, it will spend an additional $25 billion bringing 5G to “every town” in India.
In the end, you should expect integrations like this to appear across WhatsApp. In-app commerce has been a focus of the company’s recent efforts, along with user-to-user payments and the active development of the WhatsApp Business app. WhatsApp aims to be a secure platform where you can communicate with your loved ones, but if it can also be used to interact with your airline, grocery store, hairdresser, and broker, it might grow to be a much more potent tool and a veritable money mine. But how can I do it without ruining the chat experience? That will be difficult to achieve.
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