WhatsApp users in India can now do their shopping without leaving their messaging app. meta a new integration announced with JioMart today, which allows users to text “Hello” to a specified number and be taken to an in-app shopping experience. The shopping experience looks pretty familiar, similar to what Instacart and other delivery services have been designing for years. But here there is no other app. And for WhatsApp, that’s a big problem.
Meta is convinced that business messaging is a big part of how WhatsApp will make money in the future. (Well, that and ads, but the ad stuff is causing some problems with WhatsApp.) “Business messaging is an area of real momentum, and chat-based experiences like this will transform the way people and businesses communicate in years to come. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post the announcement of the collaboration. The JioMart integration is part chat back and forth, part in-app browser, but includes everything from selection to payment to delivery within WhatsApp.
Ultimately, Meta wants WhatsApp to become a WeChat-like super-app, the only app users need for their entire lives. WeChat users can pay their rent in the app, buy concert tickets in the app, pay for food in the app and much more. Any platform that can consume so much of people’s lives is basically guaranteed to make a fortune, through payment processing fees, premium features, and — you guessed it — ads.
No other platform has come close to WeChat’s dominance level, but with over 2 billion users, WhatsApp has a better shot than most. India is also the most popular market, with about 400 million users in the country. WhatsApp is free, it doesn’t require a lot of data, and it works on phones at almost all prices.
JioMart, meanwhile, is an e-commerce company run by Jio Platforms. Jio itself is part of Reliance, one of the companies responsible for the cheap phones and services that have brought many Indian citizens online for the first time. (Just today, Reliance even announced that it plans to spend another $25 billion Rolling out 5G to “every city” in India late next year.)
Ultimately, you would expect such integrations to appear all over WhatsApp. The company has been working on in-app shopping for the past few years, continues to push user-to-user payments, and is actively developing its WhatsApp Business app. WhatsApp wants to be an encrypted place where you can talk to your loved ones, but if it can also be a place for you to talk to your airline, your grocer, your hairdresser and your real estate agent, it can be both a more powerful platform and an absolute gold mine. . But do that without ruining the chat experience? That will be hard to pull off.