WhatsApp has added carts to the platform, which allows consumers to browse retailers' catalogs, select products and make purchases through the instant messaging app, Facebook, its parent company, announced last week.
With the carts feature, retailers can track order inquiries, oversee consumers' requests and sell their products, the company said.
After letting select merchants access the feature first, the company released carts worldwide last week, coming in time for the remainder of the holiday season, per the announcement.
WhatsApp noted in its announcement that it is becoming a place for retailers to discuss their products with customers and make sales. The catalogs have helped customers quickly browse products available and connect with business owners to talk about specific items, the company said.
Over the past couple of years, WhatsApp has been introducing features aimed at supporting brands and retailers on its platform. Last year, the app introduced WhatsApp Business for iOS and let small business owners make product catalogs. This year, the app began offering in-app shopping and rolled out QR codes for small businesses.
Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for about $16 billion. However, the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states filed antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, alleging that the platform has engaged in monopolistic practices to buy or push out its rivals. The cases were filed after the Department of Justice filed an antitrust complaint against Google in October.
Regardless of what happens with WhatsApp's ownership, the app appears to be another place for merchants to reach homebound consumers as COVID-19 drives in-store shopping concerns this holiday season. According to research from Adobe Analytics, online sales increased 22% on Black Friday, leading to a record-breaking $9 billion in sales. The report also found a boost in smartphone shopping and substantial gains for smaller retailers during the shopping event.