WhatsApp starts testing local business directories

The feature is currently only available in São Paulo, Brazil.


WhatsApp already allows you to chat with businesses, but you may soon also have the ability to find them through the app as well. This week, the company started testing a directory feature that allows users to scan through local shops and services that have a presence on WhatsApp and contact them. The tool is currently only available in São Paulo, Brazil, but a screenshot shared by Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, shows that you can use the feature to sort businesses by category and how close they are to you.

Matt Idema, vice president of business messaging at Facebook, told Reuters the test involves “thousands” of shops and services. He added the company is likely to make the feature available in India and Indonesia next. “Based on feedback from the people who try it over the next few months, we’ll look at expanding this service to other cities and other types of businesses available on WhatsApp,” Cathcart said separately on Twitter.

While it’s best known as an app you use to chat with your friends and family, WhatsApp has increasingly pushed into the e-commerce space. Since 2018, it has offered a separate app for businesses to use to communicate with their customers. More recently, it’s gone out of its way to make it easier for people to shop directly from WhatsApp. At times, that hasn’t always worked out for the company, as was the case when it changed its privacy policy earlier in the year. On that note, Cathcart said WhatsApp won’t log the location of a user or the businesses they browse when using the directory feature.