In-app search for local businesses



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WhatsApp, founded in 2009 and acquired by Facebook in 2014, is especially in South America one of the most popular messenger services with over 2 billion users worldwide, which provides not only instant messaging but also voice-over-IP voice and video calls, sending of voice messages, pictures, documents or live locations.  

Since 2018 WhatsApp Business also delivers an independent application that enables SMEs to communicate with customers as well as a corporate solution for larger companies that offer customer service via WhatsApp chat, live agents or chatbots (e.g., banks, airlines or e-commerce retailers). 

WhatsApp has hit the nerve of our time with this launch. Todays’ consumers prefer texting over calling which makes WhatsApp very popular especially for SMBs. The local search grows 50% more than the traditional search, because customers are looking for this and that “nearby”. The integration of a local search in a messenger which everybody uses every day is an excellent chance for companies to generate more attention.” Markus Demirci, founder and CEO of mPocket. 

Now the Facebook subsidiary is testing in Brazil, which is one of the strongest markets for mobile communications, something completely new within the application: a directory that enables users to search for shops, restaurants and service providers. Local search queries, previously known from Google, Google Maps, Apple Maps or Bing Maps such as “mobile shop nearby”, “vegan café” or “best burger restaurant” are initially being tested in Sao Paolo and already include thousands of shops for groceries, retail as well as hospitality and other service providers. After the successful implementation, the service will be expanded to India and Indonesia, according to Facebook manager Matt Idema. 

Like every innovation, this one also receives initial criticism: despite nonexistent advertising within the app until now, German magazine“Computer Bild” sees this step as the first one on the way to a shopping application. But the company rejects any ambition to do the same as its mother enterprise Facebook and to offer in-app shopping features. The additional feature is only intended to facilitate contact between users and companies through search and none of the search results will be saved. According to WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart, search history and location will also be subject to data protection. 

Until now, retailers for example had to print their numbers for contacting them via WhatsApp on their packaging or refer to them on their websites in order to show customers this possibility of communicating via chat. 

The fact that traditional messenger services like WhatsApp are following now and integrate a local dealer search in their application is once more the proof that the customer behavior shifted completely and is mainly taking place online. This requires an online presence for every shop owner – not in the form of an online shop, but on the widest possible range of social networks, local maps and messenger services.” says Markus. 

Another function that is currently only being tested in the beta version for iOS, Apple devices, is the transcription of voice messages, i.e., the recipient receives a voice message that he can read instead of listening to it. 

If you have questions or would like to leave feedback, please contact us directly hallo@mpocket.ioMore news about retail you can find on our website. 

For reasons of better legibility only the simultaneous use of male and female language forms is not used. All personal names apply to both genders. 

Jasmin Janson

Marketing & Communication Manager mPocket

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