WeChat is a messaging app with the biggest amount of active daily users on the Chinese market. Apart from using it as a way of communication with friends and family, it is used by Chinese customers to follow and interact with their favorite brands and that is why thousands of companies now sell on WeChat. It is also the biggest social platform in China, with more than 1.2 billion active users.
In recent years, WeChat has become one of the most popular social media platforms in China. For foreign companies looking to sell their products in the Chinese market, WeChat provides an excellent platform for marketing and sales, available also in the English version. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips for setting up a WeChat Store and selling your products there as a foreign company. Stay tuned!
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The most remarkable super-app in the world
WeChat is more than just a messaging app, it has grown to become one of the world’s biggest super apps. It offers features that are similar or identical in function and form to those found on other social media sites such as Facebook messenger or Whatsapp. WeChat is often compared to Facebook, for its dominant position. But when you look at WeChat (in China known as Weixin) in terms of features and benefits it’s not just an instant messaging app like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger – it’s much more!
WeChat is a perfect example of a phenomenon of super-apps that are very popular in China. Super-apps are mobile applications that have a lot of functions and ‘mini-apps’ or ‘mini-programs’ within the app. Its function is to make the user experience the most intuitive and convenient it can get.
On WeChat you can:
- Send messages, voice messages, and videos
- Make voice and video calls
- Pay using the built-in WeChat Pay Payment integration system. This payment feature also allows you to send money to your friends, split bills in restaurants within the app, do any cross-border payments, and so on. What is more, when users pay in RMB, you will be able to collect payments in USD, EUR, HKD, and other foreign currencies, as there is an option of currency conversion.
- Share text, photos, and videos on WeChat Moments, which is a feed page similar to Facebook or Instagram
- Use WeChat Channels, where you can post and watch short videos, like on Tik-Tok
- Shop, using WeChat Stores, build in Wechat mini-programs within the app
- Check Wechat Official Account pages of your favorite brands, that can be compared to branded websites
- Read newsletters sent by Wechat Official Accounts that you follow
- Order services, taxis, food deliveries, and more
- Make appointments
And so much more. As you can see, WeChat is an enormous app that became a whole ecosystem, where you can do basically everything you need to do using your phone.
Wechat in numbers
WeChat is the dominant app in the Chinese market and it’s recognized worldwide, as everyone that has at least some connections in China is also a user of the super-app. In 2022 Wechat reached 1.26 billion monthly active users, which is basically the whole Chinese Internet population. Those users spend around 82 minutes per day using the app. 60% of WeChat users check the app more than 10 times per day.
There are 38 billion messages exchanged daily within the app, which can be compared to WhatsApp with its 55 billion daily messages. But you need to remember, that WhatsApp is used all around the world, and WeChats’ focus is mostly on the Chinese market.
There are more than 68 million videos being uploaded every day on the app and 330 million active users watch those videos monthly.
When it comes to WeChat Official Accounts and Mini-programs within the app, there are more than 20 million accounts and more than 70 million mini programs, which are used by more than 450 million active monthly users.
More than 95% of e-commerce brands in China have a WeChat Shop in mini-program and we won’t lie when we say, that those mini-programs and Wechat Official Accounts are much more important in the Chinese market than traditional websites in the West.
How is it possible to sell on WeChat?
WeChat Official Account will give you access to the WeChat public platform, which allows you to share information about your company and products but you won’t be able to have an online shop there.
To be able to display and sell your products on WeChat, you need to open a Wechat Store created in a so-called mini-program, which is an amazing e-commerce solution for brands that don’t want to set their online stores on other eCommerce platforms like Tmall Global or JD. WeChat Store is a more affordable version of a marketplace and nowadays it’s a must in the Chinese market.
They offer a paperless way for businesses to interact with their customers, and they’re also extremely convenient since people can access them without having to download and install anything. Plus, they’re highly shareable since people can easily share them with others via Wechat. They have a lot of customized options and cross-border payment solutions at an affordable cost.
WeChat stores are an option for all those brands that want to sell from outside of Mainland China. What’s more, with the gradual popularity of WeChat Mini Programs and the wonderful user experience, opening a store to sell on WeChat Mini Programs has gradually become the standard for major businesses and enterprises.
Advantages of setting up a WeChat Store
There are plenty of advantages to having a WeChat store – especially if you’re doing business in China. Let’s check out a few:
- WeChat mini-programs have access to 1.26 billion Chinese users that are easier to attract to check the mini-program within the app than to go to a website or elsewhere.
- Chinese consumers are increasingly turning to social media platforms like WeChat to research and purchase products and services.
- They are cost-effective and convenient.
- Since it’s within the WeChat app, customers can use WeChat’s one-click log-in for customer authentication.
- Mini-programs are very shareable, as you can share products from your Wechat Store on Wechat Moments, Official Accounts, send in groups, and so on.
- WeChat store allows customers to browse and purchase products or services quickly and easily, without any language barriers.
- WeChat Store helps you build stronger long-term relationships with your customers. With WeChat, you can easily keep in touch with your customers and offer them personalized service.
- It loads faster than a dedicated app or a website.
- It’s more convenient and effective for influencer campaigns, as KOLs and KOCs can create a direct link for a WeChat article and direct their audience to the WeChat Store
- Customers can pay within the Wechat Shop using the WeChat Payment options.
And additionally, there are a lot of platforms that help you build your Wechat Store, so it’s not rocket science and everyone can do it. Let’s check out your options;
How to build a WeChat Store in a mini-program?
You won’t be able to build your Wechat Store within the app, as they are not provided by WeChat. There is no option of having a listing, like on Google Listings, Facebook Shops, or Instagram. To have your own WeChat Shop in a mini-program, you need to build one, using a toolkit (SDK and API) that will enable you to create a store using a special programming language.
It all sounds complicated, but don’t worry – the market for WeChat Stores and mini-program providers is growing year by year, with a lot of companies offering services to ensure you that your WeChat Store will be a success.
WeChat Store providers on the Chinese market
Today, the most popular WeChat Store providers are; Weidian, Youzan, and Weimob.
Weidian is a third-party CMS (content management system) and is a platform that enables you to create e-commerce services embedded within WeChat. It’s free which makes it close to the idea of WeChat. Within this platform, individual traders or small companies sell everything through WeChat Stores. There are also a lot of cross-border WeChat Stores from foreign companies having Chinese licenses.
Weidian’s competitor is Youzan, another third-party domestic WeChat e-commerce platform. It’s widely used among many big companies who want to relate to Chinese buyers. A substantial difference between these two platforms is that Youzan has an annual cost starting at 4800 RMB. Because of the fee, there are more features to check out, like group buying, games, affiliate sales, and so on, which makes Youzan more advanced than Weidian.
On both platforms, it is necessary for foreign companies to have a Chinese business license and a bank account from China in order to start cross-border e-commerce.
Another major player in the Chinese market, Weimob is a little different from Weidian and Youzan, as its offer is not limited only to e-commerce stores. Weimob offers a wide range of WeChat mini-programs for different industries and purposes and because of that, it’s very popular among a lot of small and medium-sized businesses in China.
Besides those three providers mentioned above, there are many options for 3rd party mini-programs of foreign brands. In fact, since 2017 it’s not necessary to settle a company in China because Alipay can be integrated with any Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce store.
Now it is possible to receive payments with WeChat pay which is in beta on Stripe. This will facilitate your e-commerce in China.
You can create your well-designed WeChat store easily using 3rd party WeChat e-commerce platforms with the template on those platforms, just as the following screenshots show.
How to set up a WeChat store?
Wechat stores are developed through the WeChat ecosystem, so if you want to open a Wechat shop, you need to create a Wechat official account and then access the WeChat store system developed by a third-party platform that cooperates with Tencent.
That is to say, once brands have created their WeChat online stores and created their WeChat Official Accounts, they can link their online stores to their official accounts in the menu bar. Then Chinese consumers can buy products in the online store via Wechat and pay using WeChat Pay. In this way, customers can finish the whole purchasing process within WeChat.
How to bring traffic to your WeChat store?
Simply setting up an online store on WeChat is far from enough. What you need is a marketing strategy to attract customers to your Official Account and Wechat Store. There are several ways to do it and it’s best to prepare a tailor-made Marketing Strategy with a Marketing Agency to see the best results. A good strategy will include:
1. Take care of the branding and reputation of your company
Branding is very important in China because Chinese customers are very suspicious of products that they are planning to buy. They don’t buy anything they don’t know. If you want to sell in China, you must get good e-reputation and brand recognition among Chinese customers.
Make sure your brand has good public relations in China and check what is being written about your company on online forums and social media platforms.
If you don’t know how to take care of your reputation and branding or you don’t speak Chinese, you can hire our agency. We will take care of advertising your brand to the fullest by selecting the most suitable content.
We will keep your online reputation high by answering consumers’ questions and comments, as well as taking care of good PR of your brand on forums, in the Baidu search engine, on online marketplaces, and on Chinese cross-border e-commerce social media platforms.
2. Work with KOLs and KOCs – Chinese influencers
KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and KOCs (Key opinion Consumers) are two types of social media users in China who can influence the purchasing decisions of others.
KOLs are usually celebrities, industry experts, or other influential people who have a large social media following. They often share their opinions on products and brands, which can shape public perception.
KOCs, on the other hand, are everyday consumers who share their honest thoughts and experiences with products and services online. Their reviews and recommendations carry a lot of weight with other consumers, as they are seen as more relatable and trustworthy than marketers or advertising campaigns.
KOLs and KOCs have a very important role, especially for cosmetic and fashion brands. This is no longer an exaggeration. After all, the fact that a man named Li Jiaqi in China sold 14,000 lipsticks in one minute through his live stream, shows the power of KOLs and KOCs in China.
Working with Chinese influencers can bring a big audience of engaged customers to your WeChat Official Account and WeChat Store. As we mentioned before, one of the main advantages of WeChat mini-programs is that influencers can put direct links to WeChat Stores and Official Accounts, which makes it easier to redirect potential customers to your sales channels.
We will make sure to find the most suitable influencers and the most important KOLs in China, in order to show your products to millions of followers and boost your brand awareness and reputation.
3. WeChat Advertisement
With more than 1.2 billion users, WeChat is undeniable the largest social network in China, so you gain a huge audience for your ads. There are 3 main types of WeChat advertising formats;
WeChat Moment ads (ads in feeds)
WeChat Moment Ads are like regular Moments posts, but you can include a call-to-action button that will take users directly to your website or the product page. Those ads are similar to Facebook’s social timeline ads.
To create Moment Ads, first, you need to create a post in the normal way and then click the “Promote” button at the bottom. You’ll be able to select whether you want to promote the post as an ad or just add it to your Moment’s queue. The ads open a landing page that can then lead to either an app store or website.
WeChat Moment ads are the most profitable, as they are the most visible of all the ad formats available on WeChat. But because of that, they are also the most expensive, with a CPM of around 65 RMB ($9.1 USD).
Subscription ads (ads in subscription account)
Wechat subscription ads are a type of ad that appears at the bottom of the WeChat article from another brand in form of advertising banners. These ads are designed to promote subscriptions to a brand’s WeChat Official Account and can include a Call To Action (CTA) to encourage users to sign up.
Subscription ads are useful for brands who want to build a following on Wechat and generate leads or sales. These ads can be highly effective in reaching target audiences, as they are specifically designed for the Wechat audience. Those ads are also the cheapest of all WeChat ads, with a CPM of around 6 RMB ($0.8 USD).
Mini-program ads (all forms of ads in mini-programs)
WeChat mini-program ads are a form of advertising that allows businesses to promote their products and services to users of WeChat. There are three types of WeChat mini-program ad formats: banner ads, full-screen interstitial ads, and native ads.
- Banner Ads: These are the traditional square or rectangular ad formats that appear at the top or bottom of the screen. They usually contain an image and a short text description.
- Full-Screen Interstitial Ads: These are larger ads that take up the entire screen. They often include videos or interactive content.
- Native Ads: These are custom-designed ads that match the look and feel of the app they’re appearing in. They typically resemble regular posts in terms of appearance and formatting but include a “sponsored” label to differentiate them from regular content.
WeChat mini-program ads are cheaper than WeChat Moments ads but a bit more expensive than subscription ads, with a cost of around 11 RMB ($1.5 USD) per CPM.
By integrating billions of high-quality user traffic and using professional data processing algorithms, the above 3 types of ads provide advertisers with a unique social network promotion.
All three formats are great, but their purposes are a bit different. WeChat moments ads are great for generating brand awareness and building brand reputation, but if you’re aiming for followers or sales conversions, WeChat Mini-program Ads will be the best choice for you. They show in visible locations in WeChat mini-programs and therefore are easy to engage with.
WeChat subscription ads are the cheapest, but also the least effective. They might be useful to build brand reputation, but if you’re aiming for high conversion rates, WeChat subscription display advertising is not the choice.
If you don’t know how to start advertising on WeChat and how to open an advertising account, contact us for a consultation!
Contact us to launch your Wechat Store
Located in the heart of Shanghai, Gentleman Agency is made of experts that, through digital marketing, will help you to develop your business. We have a lot of experience with foreign customers wanting to open a company shop on WeChat.
If you need help with creating your brand’s China-Visible WeChat Official Account, WeChat advertising strategy, or a WeChat ECommerce mini-program, let us know. For more information visit our site or contact us.