What just happened? Meta announced the launch of the first ever end-to-end shopping experience on WhatsApp, reaffirming its super-app aspirations for the messenger platform. WhatsApp is adding in-app shopping in India, where users will be able to do online grocery shopping directly through a chat.
The new in-app shopping experience is the result of a collaboration between Meta and Indian e-commerce platform JioMart. WhatsApp users in India will now be able to access JioMart through a WhatsApp chat.
Founder and CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg revealed the JioMart partnership and integration in a Facebook post earlier today: "Excited to launch our partnership with JioMart in India. This is our first-ever end-to-end shopping experience on WhatsApp."
By chatting to a JioMart business account on WhatsApp, users can initiate shopping and browse JioMart's catalog, add items to their carts, and make payments – all within WhatsApp. Zuckerberg believes this kind of chat-based interaction will be a growth driver in the future. He said that "business messaging is an area with real momentum and chat-based experiences like this will be the go-to way people and businesses communicate in the years to come."
The collaboration between Meta and JioMart began over two years ago when Meta (then Facebook) acquired a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Indian tech company Reliance Industries. Meta and Jio Platforms established a strategic partnership with the goal of digital transformation and revolutionizing the way businesses connect with consumers in India. The JioMart integration was also announced at Reliance Industries' 45th annual general meeting (AGM) earlier this week.
The news point to WhatsApp's aspirations of becoming a super-app in India, following in the footsteps of Chinese powerhouse WeChat. Used by over 1.2 billion users, WeChat forms an integral part of everyday life in China. It offers an exhaustive list of features, ranging from e-commerce to transport and wealth management.
India is WhatsApp's biggest market with over 400 million users, and if this new in-app shopping service is successful, we could see similar integrations in other countries. WhatsApp Business has also seen a healthy increase in users. Could WhatsApp become the all-encompassing super-app in the Western world? Only time will tell.