Whatsapp is trialling a yellow-pages style business directory in-app in areas of São Paulo Brazil, before potentially rolling it out worldwide.
Users will be able to find local shops and services through the directory and marks Facebook’s next step in strengthening its ecommerce services.
“This could be the primary way that people start a commerce process in WhatsApp,” Facebook’s Vice President of business messaging Matt Idema told Reuters.
Whatsapp, which doesn’t run adverts in its app, previously received custom through businesses promoting WhatsApp numbers on item packaging or Facebook ads.
The service has made subtle movements to persuade businesses to use it, first developing a specialised app for small firms and an API (Application Programming Interface), which enables two different platforms to communicate.
As the pandemic fuelled a growth in ecommerce during the pandemic, Facebook has pushed in-app shopping across its apps, including Facebook shops.
In June, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the platform was expanding the Shops feature to WhatsApp in a select number of countries.
WhatsApp also has also launched shopping tools like product catalogs and shopping carts in recent years.
The new shopping directory will include thousands of businesses across a range of different categories including food, retail and local services.
Idema claimed WhatsApp were taking aim at India and Indonesia next if the trial proves successful.