NEW DELHI: Facebook-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp on Wednesday expanded its offerings for business users. The company announced two new features that make WhatsApp Business–the new e-commerce side of the platform–more effective and friendly for businesses. The features include better support for WhatsApp Catalogs on desktops, and the ability to hide items that are out of stock.

The instant messaging platform had introduced its Catalogs feature back in 2019, allowing businesses to create a storefront and menus for products they sell. The company says it has over 8 million business catalogs worldwide, including one million in India. But businesses can only create and manage these from mobile right now.

With the new update, the same will be possible from WhatsApp’s web/desktop applications. This could be especially helpful for established businesses, which would have already digitized their systems through ERP software and more. WhatsApp may not allow these ERP systems to be integrated, but at least it will allow businesses to do all their work from desktop computers.

The second update allows businesses to temporarily hide items that are unavailable from customers. The feature is common amongst e-commerce platforms, grocery delivery and food delivery services, where a dynamic storefront is required. It essentially lets sellers change their menus on the go, and avoid delays in delivery or taking orders for products that may not be immediately available.

The feature updates bring WhatsApp Business more up to speed with competing platforms. While the company has been trying to get more small businesses on board, it competes with virtually every delivery service on the market today. WhatsApp does have a large user base already, but a well rounded feature set will be just as important.

The company is just about a month away from enforcing its new privacy policies, which landed it in trouble with users and the Indian government. The new policies allow the company to share some data with partnering business, which the Indian government has asked the Delhi High Court to block.

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