WhatsApp adds a basic cart to its shopping experience

The messaging app is slowly morphing into an e-commerce platform.


Last month, Facebook added a dedicated shopping button to WhatsApp. It’s a simple feature that lets you browse a store’s catalog and then, if you find something interesting, start a conversation that will presumably lead to a transaction. While helpful, it didn’t have a traditional checkout flow. Facebook is rectifying that somewhat with carts. Now, you can browse a catalog and and add multiple items. When you’re done, the selections will be shared as a single item (a bit like when you send multiple photos to someone) in your conversation with the business. In theory, these groupings should make it simpler for merchants to accept and track orders.

It’s a small step toward a traditional checkout experience. For now, though, there doesn’t appear to be a formal process for giving your payment and shipping details. WhatsApp is slowly rolling out in-app payments, though, which could solve the problem. Back in June, the company launched the feature in Brazil. One week later, however, it was ordered to suspend the service by the country’s central bank, which wanted to “preserve an adequate competitive environment.” WhatsApp has since brought payments to India, with support from five banks including Jio Payments Bank. The latter is funded by Reliance Industries, a company that also owns Jio Platforms — a business that Facebook and Google have invested in.