Instant messaging platform WhatsApp has released a new feature to allow business accounts to display their product catalogs through a hyperlink as the company embarks on a training program for small and medium enterprises.
Facebook Indonesia public policy manager Karissa Sjawaldy said that business owners usually showcased their products on other platforms such as Instagram, and buyers would then send a screen capture of the product from Instagram to WhatsApp.
“Customers do not have to switch between platforms anymore,” she said in a press briefing on Tuesday. “And because the catalog is through a link, business owners can easily share them with their promotional platforms, friends and other customers.”
The catalog feature is available for WhatsApp for Business, which was launched in 2018. It has other features such as automatic responses to allow business administrators to reply to frequently asked questions efficiently and QR codes to make adding a business contact easier, Karissa said.
WhatsApp is also planning to train 3,600 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to go digital.
The online training program will run from October to November and is available for SMEs in 12 cities, including the Greater Jakarta area, Semarang, Manado and Makassar.
“We want SMEs in rural areas to go digital as well and scale up their businesses,” Karissa said.
WhatsApp is partnering with UKM Indonesia to roll out the program. Its cofounder, Dewi Meisari, said that participants would learn about using WhatsApp for Business, digital safety such as fraud prevention, content creation and financial planning.
“Small and medium business owners need to be open-minded. They should not think that going digital is troublesome or difficult,” she said during the same briefing. “However, they must also realize that digitalization does not mean an instant business boost. They still need to work hard.”
WhatsApp previously partnered with youth organization Prestasi Junior Indonesia (PJI) to provide six months of digital business training to 1,000 young people.
The Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry is aiming to have 10 million SMEs go digital by the end of the year, as currently only about 8 million of the nation’s approximately 60 million SMEs had an online selling platform.
The ministry’s recent survey of 3.6 million SMEs showed that 2.1 million were already using social media while another 1.9 million had used online marketplaces. The data also revealed that only 875 businesses had registered with e-payment platforms.
“While SMEs have started to sell and promote their products online, they also need to have e-payment solutions because a lot of consumers have already shifted to cashless payment,” said Indonesia National Council for Financial Inclusion project management head Djauhari Sitorus.
He said that even though 70 percent of the country’s adults had mobile phones, less than one-fourth had used their phones for cashless transactions.
A survey by YouGov found that 75 percent of Indonesian respondents had primarily used digital payments in the last three months, followed by debit or credit cards.