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WhatsApp adds shopping catalogue feature, courting e-commerce

Facebook Inc on Thursday (Nov 7) launched a catalogue feature for its WhatsApp messaging app, it said in a blog post, building out the service’s e-commerce tools as it moves slowly toward monetising the app it bought in 2014 for US$19 billion (S$26 billion).

Facebook has been trying to boost revenue from higher-growth units like Instagram and Whatsapp, which has 1.5 billion users.

The company’s flagship News Feed product continues to draw big ad dollars but is struggling to generate new users.

The move comes after Facebook added a shopping feature to Instagram in March that lets users click a “checkout” option on items tagged for sale and pay for them directly within the app.

The new WhatsApp tool stops short of that, as transactions still occur elsewhere. But small businesses, the main users of the free WhatsApp Business app, can now display a “mobile storefront” showcasing their wares with images and prices.

“We’re opening commerce as a new chapter,” Amrit Pal, a product manager at WhatsApp, told Reuters. “We hear from businesses every day that WhatsApp is where they meet their customers, rather than sending them to a website.”

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