After the tremendous success of Taobao or Tmall started by e-commerce pioneer and behemoth Alibaba, Wechat launched its own integrated ecommerce platform-all kinds of mini programs.

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Compared to Taobao, WeChat ecommerce boasts of its own unique point-social media. Thanks to the app’s massive social network, brands and shops on WeChat can potentially tap into its 980 million monthly active users.

WeChat mini programs are providing shops with new ways of selling products, such as group-buying deals that are facilitated through chat groups. Embedded inside WeChat, mini programs are lightweight apps that don’t have to be installed, and can range from ride-hailing and food delivery to livestreaming and shopping.

Since their launch last year, 580,000 mini programs have cropped up on WeChat. They have a total of 170 million daily active users, according to Tencent. With the huge potential customers, the mini programs in WeChat attract more and more stores, brands, and platforms are setting up shop on WeChat.

Challenges for e-commerce on WeChat

The WeChat e-commerce ecosystem is getting rape and appears to pose a threat to Alibaba’s online business.

However, it remains to be seen how Tencent will manage shops on the WeChat platform, and handle related issues like counterfeit goods. To date, the super-app has shut down 875 mini programs for selling fake goods.

On the other hand, Tencent failed once for its early attempt at ecommerce – an online bazaar called Paipai – was shuttered in 2015, the Shenzhen-based tech giant remained an active investor, choosing to support ecommerce businesses instead of engaging directly. Nowadays, Tencent learned the lesson and let those investments have become important hubs of ecommerce within the WeChat ecosystem.

Huge users base is the key to success

More than 85% of the online sales in the marketplaces are taking place online now. And WeChat is the No. 1 social media platform for its more than 800million registered users. Therefore, brands are moving towards the WeChat community for a solution.

Therefore mini programs are suitable for WeChat for being able to grow their customer base quickly. For example, group buying and livestreaming where influential bloggers or personalities talk about products they love can bring in new traffic.

For another instance, Tencent is also an investor in Meili United Group, a company created from the 2016 merger of fashion ecommerce startups Meilishuo and Mogujie. According to Meili, the company has attracted 20 million new customers since launching its mini program last summer.

Collaborate with social media influencers


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KOLs or influencers do attract their fans to purchase goods for the brands, and also gain much more e-reputation for it. WeChat mini programs are changing how influential bloggers make money from their fanbase.

Previously, social media influencers could only direct followers to their online shops through a link at the bottom of blog posts. Through mini programs, bloggers can now embed their stores directly inside their article.

If the influencers are really calling for their followers or fans, the profits are obvious. Inluencers can double clickthrough rates for some bloggers, such as fashionista Becky Li. Mini programs will give key opinion leaders another opportunity to monetize or more easily monetize.

However working with influencers also should be aware of bearing risks. There is not everyone can make a living or even get a fat check by being an influencer. The truth is only a small percentage of bloggers actually make a living from their fanbase and the rest are likely hard to survive if they only depend on this for living.

E-reputation and the trust matter

When you’re on WeChat, your purchase is more emotional, and it will more depend on reputation.

Unlike Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall sites, where buyers can search for products across different stores to compare pricing, WeChat shops are tied to individual brand accounts. That gives shops more control over the user experience, but it also means they have to trigger sales through time-sensitive discounts, good content, or other types of “push marketing

Because WeChat is a closed ecosystem, if the followers lose the interest, it is barely revisable to win the potential customers back. Therefore, the brands should be more careful with their marketing, due to the trust issue, and most Chinese would value the trust and good reputation.

Using WeChat pay is preferable

WeChat pay is the exclusive term of payment for WeChat users. Because we know WeChat is the top social media platform for Chinese with more 800 million registered users, Chinese people would like to pay with WeChat more. Tencent will profit by scraping together billions of pennies worth in commission fees. After all, underpinning every transaction on WeChat is WeChat Pay, the app’s digital wallet.

Tencent hopes to make WeChat Pay the new normal for shoppers, especially in offline scenarios, like brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants. And it seems to apply very well among Chinese daily life, which may cause a lot of threats for Alipay, the other rival for WeChat Pay. However, according recent statistics, the amount of users or popularity is soaring fast in recent years and close to Alipay.

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One Comment

  1. Hi!
    Interesting post. One question, if I develop a Wechat miniprogram for bookings and payments, the only payment option is WeChat Pay? Or I can add credit cards? Thanks

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