Aldo Agostinelli

With 1,2 billion active users, WeChat represents a great opportunity for marketers to expand their market share. Here below you can find a step-by-step guide for opening an e-commerce on this ultra-popular app.

In these days, WeChat has been, together with TikTok, the focus of a heated political-financial debate between the United States and China (China attacks US ‘bullying’ over ban on Tiktok and WeChat); however, it was not originally born as an e-commerce platform. Launched in 2011 as an app for messaging, it has evolved over the years by including some solutions for brands. Combining social media, chats and paying services, WeChat allows users to buy directly via the app. And thanks to its huge customers base, reaching up to almost 1,2 billion, it represents an interesting opportunity for those who wish to take over the Chinese market and sell products in the country of the Great Wall. Let’s see how we can exploit it.

Why having an e-commerce on WeChat could be a winning choice

WeChat stores offer unprecedented functions. For instance, the app allows users to check-out via WeChat, login with just one click and integrate influencers’ campaigns. In comparison with websites, conversion rates are also higher, since every single step users take has been optimized expressively for WeChat. That is why it is worth taking them into consideration when developing your digital marketing strategy (Come vendere in Cina con WeChat: guida pratica/ How to sell in China via WeChat: a practical guide).

How to set up a store in WeChat

First of all, you need to create an official WeChat account, i.e. your company’s page.  You just need to open the official home page of the app  and follow instructions. After entering  the requested data, you can go on to set up your e-commerce. Still, in order to be able to do so, you need to contact a SaaS provider offering WeChat stores. This is due to a language problem: in order to create your own digital store, you need a development team speaking Chinese, a costly and complex option that only big brands could afford. A SaaS provider is a much cheaper solution. Youzan is the most famous of such providers. However, giving up some functions, you may save even more money, by choosing Weidian.

A fundamental step: advertising

Once configured the store, you will be visible inside WeChat. Nevertheless, you will still not be able to sell without an efficient advertising strategy. You will have to open an advertising account by logging in your official account and click on Advertiser in the Promotion item of the left menu. The next page is in Chinese (use Google Translate to translate it in Italian). Should you not be able to be verified, get in touch with one of the marketing agencies which have a partnership with WeChat asking for help (Agenzia di marketing per WeChat/Marketing agencies for WeChat).

Ads you can choose among

You can choose among three different types of ads:

  • Advertisments on Moments: ads which appear on the app timeline, like those shown on Facebook mobile timeline. They are the right choice if you want to spread the word about your brand but you are not focused on conversions.
  • Advertisments on Mini-programs: banners working like those appearing on newspapers. The advertiser establishes which are the available spaces and receives a share of the revenues. They are cheap, ideal for being converted into WeChat followers
  • Banners inside WeChat articles: appearing at the bottom of official Accounts, they work like classic banners . They are the cheapest advertising tools but also the ones with the lowest engagement.

WeChat Pay payment method

Payments via WeChat are really easy. When purchasing things via the app, customers browse through the products available in the various e-commerce stores and select what to buy. Then, they are redirected to  WeChat Pay, which then shows the details of the transaction. Customers can then confirm the payment by Touch ID or by entering a PIN code and they are redirected to the page confirming the payment has  been successful (WeChat Pay payment method).

A faster way to start? Multi-brand platforms

Small and medium sized brands may find opening a mini-commerce almost impossible. You actually need to consider that users have to search for a brand mini-commerce and follow it if they want to keep in touch. And being found in the app is easy only if you are already well-known on the Chinese market. An easier solution could be uploading your products into a multi-brand platform. WeChat hosts various multi-brand mini-programs. This way costs are lower for businesses and brands can compensate a possible lack of brand awareness.

Considering costs and benefits, opening an e-commerce on  WeChat is a must, today. Maybe you could start from a multi-brand platform and then decide to make some more fruitful moves.

In your experience, i sit worth investing in the Chinese market via WeChat? Tweet @agostinellialdo

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Aldo Agostinelli