WhatsApp’s first end-to-end-shopping experience an option for Africa?

By our News Team | 2022

Meta’s unveiling of the JioMart grocery shopping app on WhatsApp in India could become an exciting proof-of-concept for African online retailers.

In a development that could have far-reaching consequences for online shopping in Africa and other developing markets, Meta recently went live with what it says is the world’s first “end-to-end shopping experience” on WhatsApp.

The project is in partnership with online grocery shopping app JioMart, which is an Indian e-commerce operation founded in 2019.

According to Meta, it will enable Indians, including those who have never shopped online before, to seamlessly browse through JioMart’s entire grocery catalogue. Shoppers can add items to their cart and make a payment to complete the purchase — all without leaving the WhatsApp chat.

Retail Strategy

Photo courtesy of Meta Platforms

In an October interview with the Indian publication Business Today, Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President of the Global Business Group at Meta, called it a “lighthouse example” for the world.

The world was looking at this partnership and trying to understand how they could take something born in India and “see what we can do with it elsewhere”, she is quoted as saying. Mendelsohn added that the partnership could also be important for other businesses, apart from grocery retailing. The “learnings and thinking” could be incorporated across different verticals.

India is a WhatsApp-first country

She said Meta had big plans for WhatsApp in India. “India is a WhatsApp-first country – it’s [not only] one of the main ways that people communicate with one another, but also one of the main ways that people and businesses are now talking to one another.”

In a media statement released by Meta, Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, which owns JioMart, said: “The JioMart on WhatsApp experience will revolutionise the way millions of businesses across India connect with their consumers while bringing unparalleled simplicity and convenience to people’s shopping experience.”

In a Facebook post at the time, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted: “Excited to launch our partnership with JioMart in India. This is our first-ever end-to-end shopping experience on WhatsApp – people can now buy groceries from JioMart right in a chat. Business messaging is an area with real momentum and chat-based experiences like this will be the go-to way people and businesses communicate in the years to come.”

According to information published by Statista in June 2021, India is the country with the biggest WhatsApp user base by far – a total of 487.5-million people. Brazil is a distant second with a mere 118.5-million users.

Also quoting figures from Statista, Business Insider Africa notes that approximately 95.4% of internet users in South Africa reported using WhatsApp every month. In Nigeria, 91.9% of internet users use WhatsApp; in Kenya, 93.5%; and in Ghana the figure is 89.9%.

To watch a video of how the JioMart app works, go to the Meta website here.