What is a WeChat store?
Essentially a ‘store’ is a web page hosted on WeChat. It utilizes a lot of the WeChat features & interfaces with applications for payment, templated messages and chat functions.
It is a ‘web interface’ for selling products that is most often linked to a company’s ‘official account’. Payments are made via WeChat’s e-payment ‘wallet’ service at the ‘swipe of a screen’, this lends itself well to impulse purchasing.
It is not an ‘ecommerce site’ as such, it is part of WeChat’s social app with no way for users to specifically search across stores for products through WeChat.
Therefore this is something you have to drive traffic and generate leads/interest for through intelligent digital strategy.
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Akin to ‘Shopify in China’
It is more akin to a ‘shopify’ store and is an interface for selling that is very unique to your brand or company. This ties in well with ‘social marketing’ approaches to WeChat.
It is not a large scale e-commerce platform in China like Tmall or JD.com but rather an additional service hosted within a social application.
WeChat stores do not have organic traffic
Just creating a WeChat store is not enough you need to drive traffic through marketing strategy to link users from your official account to your Wechat store. There is no ‘organic traffic’ searching for products as there would be on an E-commerce site.
Building an engaged following that can re-sell products to their friends is a powerful way of building a WeChat store through online word of mouth.
The take home is you need to drive traffic by running campaigns to make your store visible and reputable, I’ll explore some strategies on how to do this.
‘Social Commerce’: A more individual experience
A WeChat store is part of the growing wave of ‘social commerce’ in China, that is e-commerce moving into the sphere of social media. Social media does not primarily function as a medium for sales but developments in this area are proving lucrative for companies looking to expand into China.
The result of this marriage with social media is that opening a store is something have to create demand for yourself by marketing your ‘official account’ and linking this to your WeChat store.
Setting up cross border store
There are services offered by WeChat to facilitate cross border payments when it comes to WeChat stores. The customer will pay in RMB but you can receive payment in another currency such as USD. The money is transferred upon transaction.
Setting up a WeChat store with the right cross border applications linked to an accessible back-end that features tools for data analysis and payment capture is important.
WeChat stores are highly trusted
One of the main benefits of a store is that it is hosted by the most trusted and frequently used social network in China.
There is also the infrastructure for payment provided by WeChat’s ‘Wallet’ Service that facilitates instant payment, again this is a very trusted process.
Utilizing the right design to optimize conversion rates
Users have certain expectations about what a store will look like and how it will function, if they trust it they will buy on it. Guidelines have even now been released by Tencent on the ‘ideal format’ for a WeChat store. You can find these guidelines at weui.io.
It is important not to just plug in your existing site format but develop the right format for a WeChat store which drives the highest conversion rates.
Are their limitations in terms of WeChat payments?
From WeChat’s end actually there a very few limitations, the restrictions are imposed by the Chinese user’s bank accounts with daily limits set on their online transaction limit. This can range from 10 000 RMB to 100 000 RMB.
WeChat stores do not have organic traffic
Just creating a WeChat store is not enough and is worth repeating you need to drive traffic through marketing strategy to link users from your official account to your store.
The take home is you need to drive traffic by running campaigns to make your store visible and reputable,
I’ll explore some strategies on how to do this.
How to market a WeChat store?
Quality content is certainly ‘king’ when it comes to WeChat, the platform is even affectionately referred to as the ‘WeChat Times’ because so many users rely on content to inform their worldview.
The key is to build a following and engage them with great content that links with your store; are you running exclusive offers? What benefits do you offer buyers when they purchase via WeChat? How are you branding the product range and is it suitable for the Chinse market?
Content cannot just be transplanted, it needs to be adapted and tailored to the Chinese market.
Exclusivity with offers & promotions
Chinese consumers are strongly drawn to promotional content, especially exclusive offers. This can be a strong incentive to drive WeChat store sales, especially when goods are released uniquely through a ‘flash sale’. This can drive a lot of interest and traffic, especially if product numbers are finite and for a limited time only.
‘Personal Sellers’ on WeChat
We touched on this earlier but sellers or ‘Daigous’ represent a powerful route for growth. Whilst KOL’s are a much-hyped phenomenon, brands are not (on the whole) seeing significant results in terms of sales. KOL’s get their payment simply by ‘exposing’ a brand, not by selling.
Daigou’s, on the other hand, buy at the wholesale (or close to) and then re-sell to their community. They can be recruited to drive sales via a WeChat store and then given the wholesale rate for the product, this is a much more intelligent answer because there is a stronger incentive for sales figures on their part and it drives more highly qualified traffic.
These are based around specific interests and can be ‘tapped into’ to sell products to communities based on interest. ‘Personal accounts’ can do this to drive traffic to a store with this targeted approach paying dividends in the long run.
Conversational, user to user recommendations for a WeChat store proves to be the best way, it sounds obvious but on social media, you have to adopt a ‘social approach’.
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