What is WeChat and why does an international Brand need it?
WeChat (in Chinese “Weixin” standing for micro-message), originally a messaging app similar to WhatsApp. However, WeChat has been developed way beyond chatting and becomes a super app. It has most of the amazing features of different western apps (Facebook, WhatsApp, Youtube, Uber, Tinder, Amazon…) combined. WeChat is a platform which enables you to do almost anything and everything in China, e.g. chat with friends, share on your timeline, call a cab, order food, book tickets, pay and invest money and of course shopping products…Almost every Chinese uses WeChat.
According to 2019 financial report of Tencent, monthly active users on WeChat have exceeded 1.2 billion. On average, each WeChat user opens the software 10.6 times a day, and 34% of users use it for more than 4 hours a day. More and more brands use WeChat as an essential sales and communication channel in China.
How to Set Up for Your Brand Selling on WeChat
- Create WeChat official account
- Set up WeChat store or WeChat mini-program
- Leverage Marketing Tactics to generate traffic and drive sales
- Utilize KOLs and paid media to boost the brand.
What is WeChat Official Account?
WeChat Official Account is the WeChat equivalent of a Facebook page: they are an interface which a brand can use to:
- Gather followers
- Communicate content to the followers
- Send them push notifications
- Redirect them to a website or an e-commerce shop
What are the different types of WeChat Official Accounts?
There are 2 types of WeChat Official Accounts relevant for brands` B2C business:
- WeChat Service Accounts (服务号):
appear as friends in the “chat” section of WeChat. They are extremely visible and have additional features compared to subscription account (in particular WeChat login, WeChat payment and geo-localization). However, they can only post 4 messages per month. When sending a message to users, the user will receive an instant message reminder.
- WeChat Subscription Accounts (订阅号):
can send up to 1 push message per day to their followers and are grouped together in a dedicated folder appearing alongside your friends in the “chat” section of WeChat. When sending a message to users, the user will not receive an instant message reminder.
Sell to China via WeChat Store
WeChat Mini-program is an “App within the App”, which is built in a specific language to be accessible easily via WeChat. It can provide e-commerce services or other kind of functionalities.
WeChat shop refers to any e-commerce experience optimized for WeChat, which could be a simple website (HTML5) optimized for WeChat via proper WeChat UX, WeChat Login and WeChat Payment, or it could be a WeChat Mini-program.
We recommend our clients to have both a WeChat Mini-program (for optimal user experience website) and a web-based WeChat Store (which will also work in other platforms such as Weibo).
When you are an international merchant and want to sell your products to China via WeChat, two options are for your selection:
- Customized Mini-Program store: In order to do so, you will need a dedicated, Chinese-speaking, development team in house or you can request eTOC to develop a customized mini program shop for your brand. This is the path chosen by mostly larger brands who want to have complete control over and very specific requirements for their mini-program shop.
- Use a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) WeChat store provider. Many brands will choose a SaaS provider which will enable them to launch a WeChat store faster and at a lower cost. It´s similar as western brands would not develop an e-commerce store from scratch, but would rely on solutions such as Shopify or Magento.
eTOC is also a SaaS WeChat store provider with a store solution focused on international brands who want to sell to China via cross border e-commerce:
- Our backend operating system is both in Chinese and English language.
- It integrates natively with western e-commerce shop system such as Shopify and Magento.
- It is connected to China customs with a fast lane custom clearance process.
- It is also connected with an international payment system which helps you to receive cross-border payments directly from Chinese customers and in your local currency.
- It included all the advanced features and functions such as the above-mentioned CRM, Marketing Automation, Data Analytics functions.
How to do marketing for your WeChat Store?
Since WeChat is not a searched-based ecosystem, the main options to drive traffic is more reply on your good marketing strategy.
- Engage with and target your followers via your WeChat Official Account
WeChat Official Account has powerful CRM functions that can help brands better manage consumers and convert loyal consumers in China. Brands can continuously influence consumers through various forms of marketing activities on their Official Accounts.
2. Cooperate with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders)
Key Opinion Leaders work as a bridge for the brand to communicate with the majority of consumers. They are very good at communicating the right brand message, promoting the product to their target audience and leading to effective sales conversions. Influencer or KOL campaigns can be incredibly efficient.
3. WeChat Paid Advertising
There are 4 major paid advertising measures are dominating current WeChat Ads:
- WeChat Moments Advertising
- WeChat Banner ads
- WeChat Official Accounts Advertising
- WeChat Mini-program ads
4. Partnership and organic marketing
Brands can also cooperate with other popular Official Accounts, insert advertisements in other articles, or directly ask for publishing brand promotion articles on their official accounts.
To sell to China via WeChat, you need to open an Official WeChat Account for your brand, create a WeChat Shop to list your products and of course do marketing to attract traffic to your WeChat shop.
eTOC offers all the services in the whole process:
- Create a WeChat official account for your brand
- Create a H5 Page for your shop or campaign
- Create a customized WeChat mini program shop for your brand
- Use eTOC SaaS WeChat mini program shop template to create your WeChat shop
- Carry out marketing activities to promote your store
In case you have any questions or need our professional support, please feel free to fill out the contact form. We will get back to you very soon.
eTOC white paper “China Market Entry via E-Commerce” for free download: