WhatsApp on Thursday debuted QR codes for small businesses to display on product packaging, receipts or on storefronts that launch customer chats. The messaging platform also now allows sellers to share product catalogs and individual items as links on websites, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.
When customers scan QR codes, the code will reveal a chat with an optional prepared message created by the seller to kickoff a conversation.
The company noted that 40 million people look at business catalogs, which highlight sellers' products or services, every month via the messaging app.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp said that its new features are intended to help connect customers with merchants as they prepare to re-open and grow their online presence. The coronavirus pandemic has hit small businesses particularly hard. With consumers sheltering-in-place and social distancing, many retailers have pivoted to e-commerce as a primary channel to reach shoppers remotely.
WhatsApp is one of a number of companies releasing features to help merchants migrate online and serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other platforms like Shopify, Builder.ai, eBay, Alibaba and Venmo have rolled out resources for small businesses ranging from mobile app tools and business profiles to logistics assistance and video integration.
A renewed focus on QR codes follows in the footsteps of retailers like Amazon, Diane Von Furstenberg and Ralph Lauren, which have used the technology to facilitate payments, connect customers with merchants, bridge the online and in-store experiences or verify product authenticity.
WhatsApp has 50 million WhatsApp Business app users on its platform, according to the company. The rollout of its QR codes comes after the platform released its catalog feature last November. Back in January, the platform decided not to display ads to it's more than 1.5 billion users around the world.