Wechat is challenging Taobao the digital mall for E-Commerce in China. And the new Wechat Store may change the game for Alibaba.
The Craze for Social Commerce in China
The emergence of new technology has transformed our consumption environment in an impressive way in China. Brands and influencers have quickly succeeded in penetrating the Chinese market and society by using tools that intertwine into the everyday lives of individuals. (Read Guide to Understand KOL in China)
It is a fact; online commerce takes a prominent place in China. It has become a complete ecosystem that interweaves into all the components of the digital landscape. It connects a multitude of Internet users and no longer dissociates from the physical experience.
The development of social networks has made it possible to change the behaviors and habits of Internet users and offers more freedom and power to consumers.
Social commerce is thus the meeting point between two increasing phenomena, e-commerce, and social media. It is distinguished by online shopping behavior influenced by the opinions, recommendations, and reviews that can be found on WeChat, Weibo, Chinese specialized forums, blogs, and KOL.
Social trade is taking an increasingly important place in China as a result of changes in the behavior of Chinese consumers. Admittedly, consumers are more and more distrustful of brands, their promises, and their messages. The concept of trust in China is very important. Social trade is based on this principle in China. Consumers, in their purchasing decisions, will consider the opinion of “other customers”. These opinions will greatly influence the buyer.
The dynamics of social media in China can still have a negative effect in return. Social platforms represent a great opportunity. They are a showcase for companies and brands to present their product and service offerings and have even become a sales channel. However, these platforms also offer consumers a good place to post “Bad Buzz” if the slightest maneuver of a company displeases Internet users.
Social commerce and social networks are becoming important tools to integrate into brand strategies of companies developing their activities in China.
WeChat Digital Ecosystem in China
I want to remind you that in China, the digital system works differently than the one we generally know in the West. Censorship blocks the majority of social networks and applications used by western internet users like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Google and recently WhatsApp.
Chinese players have created their own digital system with social platforms and applications that may look similar but operate on a whole other dynamic.
The best known and widely used, WeChat has become in just 5 years an application that is embedded into the daily life of more than 900 million people in China. Created by Tencent in 2011, the application is a simple instant messaging with features similar to what is found on Facebook and WhatsApp.
Over the years, the application has opened up different horizons to offer its users new features. WeChat offers digital downloads of “mini-programs” like the Apple store. The goal of the company is to become the application with the most functionality possible to satisfy and be used exclusively by the entire Chinese digital sphere.
Using WeChat for Business
WeChat is increasingly used by brands to promote their offerings. It offers advanced features and tools so brands can target and interact in the best way with their consumers.
Three choices are available for brands wishing to open an account on WeChat:
- Subscription accounts
- Service Accounts
- Business accounts
Business accounts are mainly intended to manage the organization and do not offer any particular interest for marketing strategies. They offer courier and business services.
Subscription accounts: Allows 1 broadcast message per day to subscribers. The messages appear in the subscription account folder.
Service Accounts: Allows up to 4 messages per month. Messages appear in the Friends list.
Tencent completely understood the interest that brands have to position themselves and reach their targets on its platform. For this, the application offers companies many tools to develop this close relationship.
Campaigns and media: This proposes various marketing and advertising campaigns on the application. Give the brand the possibility of allowing application downloads to their followers and use promotional coupons etc.
WeChat Bot: WeChat has intensified its efforts on messenger bots. This functionality, which can also be used in a campaign, allows the follower to get a response adapted to a question posed in a message by the follower.
A CRM tool: Another very advanced feature, used by brands and allows for more social interaction with the consumer via direct messages, file transfers, follower and transaction management.
Check out the best official account on WeChat
At the same time, Tencent launched the WeChat Pay payment functionality to facilitate the flow of transactions between individuals and between consumers and companies. The Chinese pay for their daily purchases via the application. It is used by more than 300,000 stores in China and promotes the online to offline (O2O) strategy of many brands.
The mobile application allows its users, by its WeChat Wallet functionality, to book plane tickets, order taxis, pay for races, or make an appointment with the doctor. In the development logic, the group with a WeChat Store encourages the consumption and purchasing behaviors of individuals.
WeChat aims to become an all-in-one store that can satisfy all the daily needs of its users. The goal is that the Chinese no longer have any reason to leave the platform and stay in the WeChat universe.
The WeChat Store feature will change the business prospects of China
Micro-blinds on WeChat provide users with simple access to branded products and is a convenient way to manage transaction and payment flows. The micro-blinds on the platform also allow companies to better manage customer service and enjoy better interactions and close relationship with consumers.
As WeChat was one of the first sources of communication and information retrieval, it became common place for Internet users to subscribe to official brand accounts to be up to date with the latest news.
Extensive knowledge of the customer target
WeChat offers an advantage to companies and gives them tools to analyze the data of individuals received from customer profiles. Thus, a user profile will highlight their personal characteristics, their interests, their consumption habits and geographical data. All this data represents an opportunity to grow a brand. Since they help us target and offer to current and potential customers offers tailored to their needs.
Offering a continuous experience between Online and Offline
Adapting to customer mobility has become essential for marketing a brand these days. To optimize the user experience, brands need to improve user flow. To do this, a brand must facilitate and be present in the customer experience.
What is the solution for international brands?
Establishing a store on WeChat Store is only one part of your development strategy in China. To have success brands must have a good reputation in the territory and be visible to consumers.
To do this, you have several options:
- Provide regular, quality content in Mandarin
- Animate and boost your presence on Chinese social media
- Have a “showcase” website presenting your company and your products
- Offer content and personalized offers
I invite you to read The Ultimate Guide to Social Commerce on Wechat on how to effectively open a WeChat store account.
In this article, we’ve explored the way WeChat executed its meteoric expansion which was facilitated by smart digital strategy and innovation. The rise of WeChat as a giant in the social field is unprecedented.
This video shows the ambition of Wechat.