WhatsApp Prepares for Apocalyptic Online Shopping War

By Gary Cutlack on at

Mobile chat app WhatsApp is extending its – and therefore also Facebook's – reach into the shopping world, with the messaging tool launching a new section it calls Catalogs; an online storefront for indie retailers, so you never need to multitask away from it again.

WhatsApp says that buying and selling things through its service at the moment is rubbish, because, to be fair, it's not historically been designed with that in mind. The developer explains with much aged insight and wisdom that "having to exchange multiple messages and photos to get product information is tedious" both for the poor person in charge of manning a company's social presence and shoppers, and Catalogs is set to change that.

Therefore any company using the WhatsApp Business app will now be able to create a passable impression of an online shop entirely within WhatsApp using just a few presses and photos, with users in the UK and US, along with Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia and Mexico, able to try it from today.

It is not, however, an actual shop. It's more like a shareable Argos catalogue, making it easier for buyers to browse, see prices and get product codes. No money changes hands. Yet. We suspect there's an ambitious internal roadmap saying it'll crush Amazon and leave Bezos bankrupt on the moon by 2027, though. But for now, once an item has been identified via Catalogs, it's back to exchanging multiple messages or exiting the app and going elsewhere to get it paid for. [WhatsApp via Techradar]