With the rise in purchasing power, the Chinese consumers are becoming very selective about their consumption and buying decisions. They seek high-quality goods and are interested in buying premium imported goods on offline as well online channels.
This interest in foreign goods hasn’t gone unnoticed by international brands. They have responded by launching their stores on mainstream Chinese cross-border e-commerce platforms such as Tmall Global and JD Worldwise.
However, growing sales on these platforms is hard due to high customer acquisition and retention costs. These platforms also give marketers only a limited control over customer data.
In this landscape, WeChat is enabling a new generation of cross-border e-commerce growth in China. While WeChat started primarily as a messaging app, today Chinese people use it for almost all their day-to-day activities, including shopping.
With new app features such as WeChat Store, WeChat Pay, and WeChat Mini Program, the platform provides the most convenient form of Ecommerce for brands as well as buyers.
How To Use WeChat for Ecommerce?
Reflecting on the amount of users WeChat has, and the unlimited opportunities WeChat offers, brands can benefit immensely from using the platform to expand their business. Here are the three ways to start selling on WeChat.
WeChat Mini Programs
WeChat Mini Programs are apps within the WeChat ecosystem that can be used for everything from online shopping, hotel booking to food ordering. When used for ECommerce, this feature helps brands leverage the virality of WeChat.
On WeChat, the customer’s buying journey often starts with WeChat friends sharing a review or recommendation of a product. Sometimes, the customer might also be invited to a group buying initiative.
WeChat Mini Programs helps such customers complete their purchase without leaving the WeChat app. The payment is easily completed in Chinese currency RMB using WeChat Pay. Later, the amount is transferred to brands in their local currencies.
For international businesses, the mini program can be integrated with cross-border logistics service to enable efficient international shipping and custom clearance legally.
WeChat ecommerce mini programs also provide brands with powerful marketing capabilities. Marketers can segment high-value customers and launch targeted campaigns, which results in more sales.
Moreover, since the mini-programs are fully integrated within the WeChat ecosystem, they load much faster. The number of clicks between product and payment are minimal, which also help drive more revenue.
A well-devised marketing strategy can help brands move customers through different stages of their journey – acquisition, activation, purchase and retention – with closed-loop transactions within the app.
Another great feature of WeChat Mini Programs is that the brands can design their user interfaces the way they want to and have control over customer data as well.
WeChat Stores refer to any Ecommerce website that is developed for WeChat. Unlike WeChat Mini Programs, WeChat stores can be made in a way that they also work on other platforms like Weibo.
Once brands have created their WeChat Store, they can link it in the menu bar of their WeChat Official Accounts. This way, Chinese consumers can access the products via WeChat and make purchases without leaving the WeChat App.
WeChat Stores are simply mobile websites connected to the menu of the brand’s WeChat Official Account. They make it easy for users to shop with ‘one-click payment’. Unlike WeChat Mini programs, WeChat stores can accept payments from options other than WeChat Pay as well.
With such an integration, brands are able to send discounts and latest promotions to the users via WeChat to drive store visits and purchases. Even if the users don’t complete the purchase, brands get the information of the visitors which they can use for marketing purposes.
Since WeChat stores don’t get any ‘organic traffic’ from WeChat (since they do not appear on search), it’s not enough to simply create a WeChat store. You need a marketing strategy that includes events, KOL partnerships, content marketing and paid advertising to drive sales from your WeChat store.
WeChat Mini Shop
WeChat Mini Programs were one of the most successful features launched by WeChat. Within two years of launch, there were over 200 WeChat Mini Programs on WeChat. Together, they had over 5 million monthly active users and the global transactions made on Mini Programs were worth 800 billion Yuan in 2019.
Even with this huge challenge, WeChat Mini Programs posed a big limitation for businesses. Since the creation of WeChat Mini Programs required coding and development skills, some businesses struggled to do it by themselves. Even with the help of third-party companies, they struggled to make the best use of the feature.
WeChat’s answer to this challenge was WeChat Mini Shop, also known as WeStore. Launched in July 2020, WeChat Mini Shop is a free, easy-to-use ECommerce Mini Program that lets businesses set up an online store on WeChat within a few clicks.
Just like other WeChat Mini Programs, buyers are able to access WeChat Mini Shop via WeChat Search. This makes the WeChat Mini Shop easy to discover, thus driving visitors directly from the WeChat app.
Vendors can post a product, manage orders and transactions, and offer customer services via the mini-program. Currently, Minishop supports over 1500 categories of goods including digital devices, office supplies, pet supplies, home appliances, cellphones, clothing and so on.
Mini Shops also have a live-streaming feature which creates a smooth experience for WeChat users to browse and shop for goods within the app.
WeChat Mini Shop is currently available only on WeChat public account users invited by Tencent to test the feature. Moreover, there are a few qualifications to be met to set-up this account.
First, you need a Service account type of WeChat official account. Second, your account must be verified and third, you should be able to accept payments via WeChat Pay. Most importantly, you must have a Chinese business license.
WeChat Ecommerce – Growth Trends and Statistics
- 18% of mini-programs are devoted to ecommerce, yet foreign brands have been slow to take advantage of this golden selling opportunity.
- Social commerce drives 13% of total retail ecommerce sales in China.
- Social commerce market is expected to reach nearly $315.5 billion U.S. by the end of 2021.
- Group-buying and WeChat-based social commerce exceed 90% of the total market share for social commerce.
- WeChat facilitated nearly US$250 billion in ecommerce transactions in 2020, as more brands turned to social media to derive revenue during Covid-19.
Opt for easy WeChat Ecommerce set up with AdChina.io
For international businesses, developing a WeChat Ecommerce can be a challenge.
There’s the language barrier to overcome and lots of administrative hoops to jump through. You also have to understand what the Chinese market wants and expects in an e-commerce experience.
If going it alone doesn’t sound too appealing, why not enlist the support of AdChina.io?
As part of our Chinese e-commerce service, we’ll design and set up your brand’s WeChat Shop. We’ll set up your accounts and payment options. We can even help in the day-to-day running of your Chinese e-commerce operations. Book a free demo to understanding more about our tools and services.
Want AdChina.io to help your brand reach the Chinese market? Get a free trial to find out more.
Read more about our WeChat Advertising services here.