WhatsApp upped its efforts to improve e-commerce functionality, with a direct option for making purchases for consumers and content hosting for enterprises

In a statement, the Facebook-owned company said it was increasing investments into a feature allowing users to window-shop and make purchases directly from a chat, claiming this would aid small businesses impacted by the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Another update will enable enterprises to manage their WhatsApp correspondence “via hosting services that Facebook plans to offer”, a move it tipped to boost small- to medium-sized businesses. To this end, WhatsApp aims to broaden existing partnerships with business product providers.

It also plans to charge business users for some services, to help it continue building its own business while expanding its “free end-to-end encrypted text, video and voice calling for more than 2 billion people”.

The new features are set to be added in the coming months, though WhatsApp emphasised they would not interfere with consumers’ ability to communicate privately.

Facebook added a shopping feature to Instagram in March 2019, and more recently began offering a tool for browsing and purchasing products seen in IGTV Videos.