How to Open, Run and Promote a WeChat Store in China
Introduction to WeChat
As you have probably noticed, WeChat is an irreplaceable application in China. Since the release of this ‘Super-app’ in 2011, it has grown tremendously in multiple ways. With more than 1 billion active users, WeChat has gained an additional 200 million users in the last two years. This type of growth creates interest in knowing what the number of users will be two years from now, when WeChat celebrates its 10-year anniversary.
Foreigners think of WeChat primarily as a messaging app and compare it to WhatsApp, but it has so much more to offer than only that. WeChat’s most popular features include, of course, the communication system, but also games, video chatting, voice calling, and scanning QR codes. Moreover, let’s not forget, the payment system. With WeChat Pay users can connect with their bank accounts and purchase everyday goods with a simple click from their phone.
Reflecting on the amount of users WeChat has, and the unlimited opportunities WeChat offers, it would be quite beneficial if brands started using this platform to expand their business. This can be done by opening a WeChat E-commerce or, as it is also called, a WeChat store.
WeChat shops can help you strengthen brand awareness. Additionally, it will enable you to focus on a specific target group, leading you to a better understanding of your customers and building long-term relationships with them.
Below, we will explain more about this amazing feature on WeChat and why you should consider opening one for your business.
What Is a WeChat Store?
For companies interested in expanding their E-commerce business, creating a WeChat shop is definitely something they should consider as a great addition to their business. WeChat stores are an E-commerce platform that exist within the WeChat app. They are mobile websites connected to the menu of a WeChat Official Account. With the ability to pay with WeChat Pay, WeChat stores offer ‘one-click-payment’, which makes it even easier for users to shop.
Advantages of WeChat Stores
- WeChat shops may look difficult to use, but that is not the case. First time users will find the process of creating a WeChat shop relatively easy. This process can be made even easier if a third party is included in creating the WeChat store.
- WeChat stores give effortless access to products which can also be paid for easily with WeChat Pay or with other payment methods like Alipay.
- With your WeChat store linked to your WeChat Official Account you can send discounts to your customers. In this way, you can keep them updated with the latest promotions and engaged with your brand.
- Another advantage to having a WeChat E-commerce is that it allows you to identify your customers from your Official Account list of followers. This will help you to focus on a specific target group and then to better understand what your customers want.
- If your marketing tactic is correctly applied, it can boost your WeChat shop to the top. By launching products at targeted times of the year, you will create conversations on WeChat, which will bring your WeChat Official Account to more subscribers.
- Even if the customer doesn’t make a purchase, retailers can still obtain the WeChat information of these visitors so that they can continue to connect with them after they have left their WeChat store.
- If you decide to develop a WeChat store by yourself, then you will have the freedom to choose your own design, strategy and the way you want to reach your customers.
Limitations of WeChat Stores
We have seen the advantages of WeChat stores, but there are also some limitations. WeChat stores don’t have ‘organic traffic’ searching for products, as on E-commerce sites. So just creating a WeChat store is not enough. You need to have a well-organized marketing strategy in order to be easily found by WeChat users. This means that you will need to ‘help’ customers to find your store. This can be done with events, Key Opinion Leaders (KOL), ads and well-thought-out marketing campaigns.
Additionally, product pages of WeChat stores are difficult to find if the keywords used in the search box of WeChat are not specific enough. So, using complex sentences will not create results.
Why open a WeChat Store?
The reason we see so many success stories about WeChat shops generating considerable profits for business owners is because WeChat stores can be used in several different but equally successful ways.
For the most part, WeChat stores are usually launched as an integration of a company's existing e-commerce website. Another successful option is that brick and mortar store owners have opened a WeChat store to provide their customers with a new innovative way to explore their products, compare them, and finalize their purchase without actually having to leave the comfort of their smartphone. In other cases, foreign businesses have used WeChat stores to sell their products on the Chinese market without having to actually open a local entity.
Even though opening a WeChat store is a smart move for your business, your main concern must be how to properly promote your WeChat shop for the Chinese market.
To be successful in the Chinese market you need to know the makeup of it and you need to understand which web marketing techniques are successful in this part of the world. This is even truer when it comes to WeChat since you need to abide by the policies set by Tencent, the organization that owns WeChat.
Examples of WeChat Shops
Let’s have a look at some examples of WeChat shops that are already very active on the platform.
WeChat Shop for Retail
China’s largest online retailer, JD.com, where online shopping is well-known, is a very good example of how to correctly use WeChat stores. With just a few clicks, you can shop on JD.com through your WeChat account. If you type consumer related product keywords into the search box at the top of the WeChat homepage, or in the ‘Discover’ tab, then WeChat will automatically send you product page results from the JD.com shopping site. However, these results are only possible if the keywords that you enter are clear and specific enough.
This strong cooperation between WeChat and JD.com has been ongoing for a couple of years and it offers their consumers many beneficial services.
WeChat Shop for Clothing
It was a very logical step for WeChat to enable shopping on its platform. Fashion brands try to profit as much as possible from WeChat stores by offering an E-commerce site for their customers. There is no need to leave the app while shopping, and this convenience makes the experience even more enjoyable. WeChat’s active users keep increasing every year. There are currently over 1 billion users. This means that brands have a large audience to target.
WeChat shops are not only used by Chinese brands for shopping purposes. Brands like Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger were among the first luxury brands that started using WeChat stores.
These shops are great extensions of their brand websites. With very good customer experiences that include handy features like tracking orders and many other things.
Other brands using WeChat stores enjoy the fact that their WeChat E-commerce is like their own little space where they can decide the design of their shop, the strategy they want to use and how they can attract new consumers to their WeChat shop.
WeChat Stores for Tourism Retail
Foreign brands try to position themselves in China by attracting Chinese travelers to their WeChat shop. Travel retail is important because many foreign brands in China are first discovered overseas before becoming popular in the Chinese market. WeChat gives travel retail players the opportunity to reach Chinese tourists with the help of WeChat Official Accounts. Fashion brands can then push marketing content and promotions to their followers.
In this case, WeChat stores will be used in four different phases. The ‘Pre-Trip’ phase is where the brand will create awareness and brand education. Next, when the Chinese tourists arrives, fashion brands will use their WeChat stores as a ‘location-based’ advertising tool to remind tourists to visit their local store. The next phase, ‘At Store’, includes payments and checkout. These foreign brands, who are active on WeChat, will allow Chinese tourists to pay with WeChat Pay. The last phase, when the tourist returns home, is when fashion brands start their post-sales marketing. This phase ensures the tourists doesn’t forget their brand and continues purchasing even when they are home.
WeChat Shop for Travel
We cannot stress enough how many benefits WeChat users have when using this ‘Super-app’. If you are a frequent traveler, then there are several WeChat stores you can follow to ease your travel planning.
Ctrip.com is a good example. This organization offers the most wanted travel deals through WeChat, including the latest news about destinations around the world and handy travel hacks.
Travel businesses similar to Ctrip.com are competing against each other in order to obtain the most Chinese customers. With the Chinese New Year being the most popular period to leave China and go abroad, Chinese travelers tend to use different official travel accounts on WeChat to get information about their destination. These WeChat accounts can be travel agencies that are using WeChat shops as an extension to their marketing strategy. They can also be airlines offering all kinds of information like flight details, ticket prices, etc. Other than travel agencies and airline companies, WeChat stores for cruise lines and cruise tours have also become very popular in China.
When looking for information about a destination or activity, it has been proven that WeChat users are more attentive to good online content, which is detailed and can be used as a customized travel guide.
France is an interesting example of a foreign integration of WeChat. French organizations and brands have taken the lead in embracing WeChat in order to reach a larger audience in China. The Louvre adopted WeChat in 2015 to welcome Chinese visitors to the museum. Further, this year the French national railway company, SNCF, has launched an official WeChat channel to guide Chinese tourists through 18 train stations around the country.
How to Setup a WeChat Store
Creating a WeChat shop is one of the best decisions you can make for your business. However, there are a few steps to do before you can officially start selling with your WeChat shop.
The first thing you will need to do is create a WeChat Official Account. This account can be a subscription or a service account. The process can be different for Chinese, and non-Chinese businesses.
Now that you have a WeChat Official Account, you can do user experience (UX) research to find the best way to meet the requirements and needs of the local market. After this you can start designing and developing your WeChat store.
You also need to couple your WeChat Official Account with the WeChat payment system in order to receive payments from the over 1 billion potential customers.
There is also the option of skipping these steps and letting a third party create your WeChat store. Here is where QPSoftware can help you. We can create a WeChat shop that will be a perfect image for your brand.
How to Upload Your Catalog of Products
QPSoftware offers different solutions in creating your WeChat shop. One of these solutions can be Magento. This tool helps you to create and adjust your E-commerce website and can also be used as a strong marketing tool. Magento is the most complex program, but there are also PrestaShop and Drupal. Depending on what you need, our CTO will identify the pros and cons and we will advise you on what is the most suitable solution for you.
How to Receive Cross-Border Payments with Your Store
As WeChat made it possible for overseas sales and payments, foreign brands can also enjoy selling on WeChat and enter the Chinese market. WeChat allows customers to use the Chinese currency to pay for goods or services purchased from overseas merchants. This cross-border payment gateway can be used both online and offline. After the payment, WeChat Pay will transfer the amount in the foreign currency to the bank account of the merchant in settlement.
How To Attract Visitors To Your WeChat Store
In the following, you will find a list of techniques that have proved successful for promoting WeChat stores in China and attracting the most users.
1. Do Not Be Stingy With The Design
As we explained a few lines above, WeChat stores are successful because they provide an easy, comfortable and fast way to shop online. If your store is not well designed and your customers find it difficult to navigate it, not only will they not come back but negative feedback may prevent new users from visiting.
Even though there are some DIY software for creating your WeChat store, if you are really serious about your business you need professional support to create a stunning user experience and make your WeChat store truly appealing. It may cost you some bucks but you will not regret the results.
2. Open A WeChat Public Account Alongside Your Shop
The purpose of a public account is to create a group of followers and a community for your customers. You will use the WeChat public account as a marketing tool to promote your products and attract new potential customers.
If you make good use of targeted and relevant content, news, announcements, promotions and so on, you will attract new visitors on a daily basis. In time, the followers on your public account may become your WeChat store customers. The public account is even the ideal place to build a strong relationship with new and existing customers and to transform them into repeat customers.
3. Add Only Relevant And Useful Content
Your WeChat public account will serve the purpose of promoting your WeChat store only if you carefully select the content you post. Your ultimate goal is to keep the interest of your followers alive and get the attention of new ones. Therefore what you publish cannot be just random content, it must be relevant and useful to your audience.
Exert yourself to understand what your audience is looking for, what are its needs, interests or what problems they want to solve. Once you have identified these, create content that addresses exactly these points and adds value for your readers. This is what moves your followers to come back and to share your content across the web. Producing tailored content requires time and money but it will prevent your audience from unfollowing you.
4. Videos Work Well Even On WeChat
The power of video doesn’t need any explanation by now. A well-made video has a significant impact on your audience. People love to be entertained and a video can be entertaining and can promote your products at the same time. It is much easier to watch a video than to read an article and your audience will love that. If you haven't tested the power of videos by now, try including some in your editorial plan and you will be amazed by the response.
5. Promotions And Giveaways Are Like Magnets
This is a great way to attract followers both in China and around the globe. People like free stuff and discounts and when you offer them to your audience you will see something good in return.
Not only will your sales increase, but existing followers will most likely share your promotions on the web. If well planned, these kinds of campaigns can easily become viral on the internet attracting countless visitors to your WeChat shop.
6. Leverage the power of influencer bloggers
Unless your presence on WeChat is very well established, hardly will your content ever get the exposure that an influencer can get it if they help promote your brand. Influencer bloggers are a surefire way to reach hundreds of thousands of people in just one shot. Moreover, influencers are trusted sources in the Internet community and having your content or products promoted by them increases the perceived trust of your brand.
7. Cost-Per-Click (CPC) Campaign
This is a method used by many online businesses all around the globe. It consists of placing ad banners on the Internet in the hope that people will click it and be redirected to your shop. If well planned, this CPC campaign can significantly increase the visibility of your brand.
8. WeChat Games
This is a new way to entertain your customers. Several brands have used tailored WeChat games to create a stronger connection with their audience and retain them.
Games and contests can be a good way to handle giveaway campaigns and can even be used to collect additional info about your users. Not to mention that a successful WeChat game can easily become viral.
9. Promote Your WeChat Shop Among Existing Customers
Once you have your WeChat store in place, you should promote anywhere you can.
For instance, if you have a brick and mortar store, you should promote it to customers visiting your shop. Moreover, don’t forget to include a link to your WeChat sstore, for instance in the form of a QR code, on all the packaging for your goods. This is a very simple way to reach a large number of people and make them aware of your store on WeChat
How To Organize An Effective Campaign To Promote Your WeChat Store
WeChat stores offer a new and effective way to sell online and make your business more profitable. Many companies are already benefiting from it and you shouldn’t miss the opportunity. Developing a WeChat store and promoting it online can be a daunting task for many companies. However, unless you plan everything to the tiniest detail you will not reap the expected results.
QPSoftware has all the know-how to develop personalized WeChat stores and WeChat solutions. We have an unmatched experience in the Chinese market and we can assist you in creating a WeChat store that best fits your audience and the Chinese market. Which makes us the perfect partner for creating and promoting a successful WeChat store.
WeChat Store vs WeChat Mini program
• A WeChat Mini Program is a small app within WeChat. It is easily accessible through WeChat and can also provide E-commerce services and other types of functionalities. On the other hand, a WeChat store refers to any E-commerce website developed for WeChat.
• WeChat stores can also work on other platforms like Weibo, whereas WeChat Mini Programs are only available on WeChat.
• The development time and cost of Mini Programs can be slightly higher than for WeChat shops.
• Mini Programs only work with WeChat Pay, whereas WeChat stores can use other options also.
• WeChat Mini Programs might require Tencent’s approval to be developed and can take more time. You will also need to reapply for any new changes or updates on your Mini Program.
• Having a WeChat store linked to your service account, can give you more creative space to interact with your customers. Furthermore, you get easy access to your customer behavioral data. This will help you in managing your customer relationship.
What Is Your Next Step?
We can conclude that WeChat Stores are great extensions for E-commerce businesses. If created, designed and used correctly with the right marketing strategy, it will boost the subscribers of your WeChat Official Account.
Now that you know more about the details and specific requirements of WeChat stores, it is time for you to have your own. QPSoftware is the perfect intermediate to help you with creating your WeChat Store. We specialize in WeChat services and have the correct tools to make your project successful. Contact us today and start selling on WeChat!
Contact us today and we will be happy to give you all the details on how a WeChat store can benefit your business. We can assist you in creating an outstanding presence on WeChat.