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How did WeChat’s Mini-Programs reshape Chinese E-commerce on WeChat?

During the WeChat Conference 2018, WeChat released some statistics on WeChat’s Mini Program:

  • Developers have published 580,000 Mini Programs by Jan 2018
  • Mini Programs attracts 170 million Daily Active Users

So what are mini-programs and how do they revolutionize e-commerce on WeChat?

What are WeChat mini-programs?

WeChat mini-programs are “sub-applications” within the WeChat ecosystem. They provide additional features to users such as e-commerce, task management, coupons etc on top of what WeChat currently offers.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of WeChat mini-programs.

H&M
H&M created a mini-program enabling users to post and share their own photos showcasing their outfits according to the different preset themes. Users were also able to use the program to interact with each other through comments or likes.

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JD.com
JD.com (the second largest B2C e-commerce platform in China) also created a mini-program in WeChat with the exact same functionalities as their e-commerce website:

2

Game of Thrones
On a completely different topic, users can search and watch the entire Game of Thrones series just by following their official WeChat official account – Tencent Video!

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WeChat mini-programs are more user-friendly than the “real” apps that we typically download. Users just need to search for a mini-program on WeChat or scan a QR code from any type of advertisement in order to arrive at that platform.

Mini-programs function just like apps, but they take up way less space on our smartphones. From a marketing perspective, mini-programs have a captive audience, and work on both Android and iOS phone, making them widely accessible.

How do KOLs benefit from mini-programs?

Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are the ones who stand to benefit the most through transforming the traditional “sponsored post” business model into manufacturing and/or selling within their own account.

As we all know, WeChat KOLs are some of the most highly in-demand and respected influencers in China. Their unique writing style and personal charm have played an extremely important role in deciding followers’ purchase patterns.

黎贝卡的异想世界 (Miss_shopping_li) is an extremely successful WeChat fashion KOL, with over a million followers, 85% of which are women. This account has launched its very own mini-program in Dec 2017, which is already considered slightly later than other popular fashion KOLs. In her mini-program, she created her own line of products based on data collected from her massive followers.

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How did mini-programs revolutionize the e-commerce sphere on WeChat?

Unlike other mainstream social media platforms, WeChat KOLs are highly constrained by this social media channel and its ability to connect to external e-commerce platforms.

With the newly introduced mini-programs, WeChat now allows subscription accounts, which is the typical account type for KOLs, to include mini-program links in their articles in the form of clickable images or text, linking readers directly to the mini-program store.

Because these mini-programs are seamlessly integrated within WeChat ecosystem, they are usually very fast and stable in terms of loading speed and user experience. Furthermore, it enables users to skip the hassle of registering/logging in or even linking their credit cards since everything is already linked to their WeChat accounts through WeChat Pay.

Even though mini-programs are still being considered as a new function on WeChat, users are showing signs of adapting and familiarising. As the market for mini-programs development becomes more commoditized and solutions become more commonplace, we can expect influencers to jump onto the “mini-program” bandwagon in no time.

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