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Welcome to our comprehensive guide on WeChat, the most popular instant messaging app in China. With millions of daily active users, WeChat is an essential part of the Chinese digital landscape today.
WeChat is just a part of a larger ecosystem created by Tencent, a Chinese multinational technology company founded in 1998. Tencent is a leader in various internet-related services and products, including entertainment, video games, and artificial intelligence industries. Its success comes from its social media, venture capital, and investment corporations, which provide a wide range of services such as social networks, music, web portals, e-commerce, mobile games, e-payment, and internet services.
At the heart of Tencent’s ecosystem of services is WeChat, which quickly evolved from a messaging app into a vast network of services that are now vital in China. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at WeChat’s features and how to use them.
Let’s dive in and explore the exciting world of WeChat together!
Table of Contents
What is WeChat?
Originally a messaging app, WeChat (Chinese: Weixin) developed into a super app far beyond the chat function.
WeChat combines most of the functions of various Western apps (Facebook, WhatsApp, Uber, Tinder…) and thus enables countless things to be done in China, such as chatting with friends, sharing something on your timeline, calling a taxi, ordering food, booking tickets, paying, investing money and much more.
More than 1.2 billion users are active on WeChat every month and the total transaction volume of the mini programs reached RMB 800 billion. On average, each WeChat user opens the software 10.6 times per day, and 34% of users use it more than 4 hours per day.
How to set up your business on WeChat:
- Create an official WeChat account
- Set up a WeChat shop or WeChat mini program
- Use marketing tactics to generate traffic and increase sales
- Use KOLs and paid media to strengthen the brand.
What is a WeChat Official Account?
A WeChat Official Account is a Chinese marketing platform that enables people and businesses to produce content, gather followers, and interact with them. It functions as a brand hub to attract followers, communicate with them, provide them relevant content and marketing notifications, and direct them to a website or e-commerce. It is the first opportunity for businesses to capture, engage, and convert their target audience within the WeChat ecosystem and serves as a communication channel for account owners.
What are the different types of official WeChat accounts?
Companies operating in the B2C sector can choose between 2 different accounts.
WeChat Service Accounts (服务号):
A service account is much more visible to followers than a subscription account, as a post is displayed as a push notification in the chat list. Although companies can only post up to six articles four times a month, especially those with a large target group or customer database prefer this type of account. Users can also send messages directly to the account, which is especially beneficial for customer service. In addition, a service account offers businesses a wide range of functions, including CRM features, e-commerce and API integrations. Verified accounts can also use WeChat Pay and WeChat Shops, and in the back office, companies also have access to further data and information.
WeChat subscription accounts (订阅号):
With the subscription account, a daily push message can be sent to followers. The account is grouped in its own folder that appears next to the friends in the “chat area” of WeChat so that the follower does not receive a reminder of a push message. This type of account is used for information and brand communication and is used like a daily news feed. This account is particularly suitable for companies that communicate with their customers on a daily basis and want to publish content regularly.
How to open a WeChat Official Account?
1. To open a WeChat Official account, visit the WeChat Official account platform (mp.weixin.qq.com) and click on the “Register Now” button. For convenience, we would recommend registering on your desktop.
2. Then select the type of account you want to create (subscription or service). Note that the setting cannot be changed afterwards.
3. Enter an email address and set a password for your account. Take into account here that you use an email address that is secure as it is used to access the Admin Panel and the mail address must not be linked to an already existing WeChat Business account.
4. Verify your email address by clicking on the verification link sent to your inbox.
5. Select the country in which you are registered, as the legal documents required may differ slightly depending on the location of your company.
6. Then provide the identification details of both the company and the account administrator, which should include:
- The company’s official registered name and registration number.
- The name, mobile phone number and passport number of the account administrator.
7. Provide an account name and description and select a profile picture and category.
8. When you open a service account, you will also need to provide additional information, such as the business licence and other relevant documents.
9. Once you have submitted all the required information, your account will be reviewed by the WeChat team. This process can take up to a few weeks.
Finally, you should verify your account to be able to use it fully, as only verified accounts have access to advanced features such as push notifications, mini programme creation and WeChat Pay. In addition, non-verified accounts can be cancelled after 30 days. To avoid problems or even suspensions and to communicate effectively with your customers, you should understand how messaging works on WeChat.
How much does it cost to create a WeChat Official Account?
There are no costs for registering a WeChat Official Account. Only for the verification of the account there is a fee of either 99 USD (overseas) or 300 RMB (local) depending on the location of the company. This fee must be paid at each annual verification and is also non-refundable should the application be rejected.
What is WeChat Pay?
WeChat Pay is a digital wallet that connects users’ bank accounts or credit cards to the WeChat app. It allows customers to make mobile payments for a variety of services, including internet purchases, restaurant bills, utility bills, and transit costs.
Because WeChat Pay is widely recognized by merchants throughout China, it provides a convenient payment option for Chinese consumers. To make a payment, users just scan the recipient’s or payee’s QR code with the WeChat app. In-app payments are now simple and convenient for both businesses and customers.
As one of the most popular payment methods in China, WeChat Pay has become an important tool for businesses looking to reach Chinese shoppers at home and abroad. With WeChat Pay, businesses can offer a convenient payment option to Chinese consumers, increasing their chances of making a sale.
Which countries and regions are supported by WeChat Pay?
Currently 69 countries/regions are supported by WeChat Pay which makes a global payment provider that can be offered by businesses across the world:
Hong Kong (China), Macao (China), Taiwan (China), Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mongolia
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Belguim, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Turkey, Estonia, Serbia, Monaco, Gibraltar
Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu
Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Mauritius
How to set up WeChat Pay?
Since WeChat Pay is a popular payment service in China that allows retailers to receive payments from clients who use WeChat to make purchases, it is critical for international businesses to understand how to set up WeChat Pay.
There are two options for merchants to integrate with WeChat Pay. It can be done directly or via local WeChat Pay Institutional partners. The direct approach is only available to businesses in Hong Kong or the United Kingdom; firms in other countries or regions must go through a local WeChat Pay Institutional partner. This guide will help you through the steps of integrating with WeChat Pay via a partner institution.
So, let’s start!
To integrate WeChat Pay, go visit the WeChat Pay Application Guidelines website. Click on “I’m a Merchant” to start the process.
Step 1: Contact an Institution
To integrate with WeChat Pay, you need to contact a local institution partner that offers acquiring services for WeChat Pay. You can find a list of WeChat Pay institution partners on their website or through a quick online search. Contact the institution of your choice and ask about their acquiring services for WeChat Pay.
Step 2: Enter into an Agreement
Once you have selected an institution, you need to enter into an agreement with them to become their sub-merchant. The institution will check your merchant qualifications and risks before partnering with you. You will need to provide basic information about your business such as your business license, register country/region, address, legal representative, and contact information.
Step 3: Access WeChat Pay
After entering into an agreement, the institution will provide you with the technical and operational support necessary to access WeChat Pay. You do not need to develop any of your own technological solutions as the institution will support you by providing access to WeChat Pay and transferring the funds settlement from WeChat Pay to you.
Benefits of Integrating with WeChat Pay
Expand your business
By integrating with WeChat Pay, you can reach a larger customer base in China who use WeChat to make purchases.
Increase conversion rates
Customers who use WeChat Pay are more likely to complete their transactions, which can increase your conversion rates.
You can participate in WeChat Pay's campaigns with the marketing support of WeChat Pay.
No technical development
You do not need to develop any of your own technological solutions as the institution partner will support you with access to WeChat Pay.
In summary, integrating with WeChat Pay through an institution partner is a great way for merchants to expand their business and reach more customers in China who use WeChat to make purchases. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily integrate with WeChat Pay and start receiving payments from WeChat users.
Sell to China via the WeChat Shop
A WeChat shop refers to all conceivable e-commerce experiences that are optimised for WeChat. This could be, for example, websites(HTML5) that are optimised for WeChat through the right WeChat UX, a WeChat login or even WeChat payment.
A WeChat mini application (an app within an app) can also take over the function of a WeChat shop, so we recommend both a WeChat mini application and a web-based WeChat shop to our customers.
If you are an international retailer and want to sell your products to China via WeChat, you have two options to choose from:
- Customised mini program shop:
Developing a customised Mini Program Shop requires a Chinese-speaking development team, if you do not have such a team, you can contact the eTOC team to have a customised Mini Program Shop developed for your business. This offer is mostly used by larger companies who want to have control as well as individual requirements over and for their Mini Program Shop.
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) WeChat shop provider:
Similar to how Western brands often choose not to develop an eCommerce shop from scratch, preferring to use solutions such as Shopify or Magento, many companies opt for a SaaS provider. SaaS providers enable the opening of a WeChat shop quickly and at low cost.
eTOC is also a SaaS WeChat shop provider focusing on international brands that want to sell to China via CBEC and offers:
- Backend operating system in Chinese and English.
- Integration of Western and local (China) e-commerce shop systems.
- Connection with Chinese customs and a fast lane customs clearance process.
- International payment system: Receive your customers’ payments directly and in your local currency.
Advanced features and functions, such as CRM, marketing automation and data analysis functions.
How does Marketing work for your WeChat shop?
Since WeChat is not a search-based ecosystem, you need to develop good marketing strategies to drive traffic to your shop.
1. Engage with your followers and reach out to them through your official WeChat account.
The official WeChat account has powerful CRM features 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 act as a bridge between the brand and a broad mass of consumers. They are a great way to get the desired brand message across. KOLs achieve enormously high sales among their target groups, which is why KOL campaigns prove to be very efficient.
3. Paid advertising on WeChat.
WeChat Ads is dominated by 4 paid advertising methods:
- WeChat Moments ads
- WeChat Banner Advertising
- WeChat Official Accounts advertising
- WeChat Mini Programme Advertising
4. Partnership and organic marketing.
Brands can also partner with other popular official accounts, insert advertisements into other articles, or directly ask for brand promotion articles to be published on their official accounts.
To sell to China via WeChat, you need to open an official WeChat account for your brand. In addition, you should create a WeChat shop to list your products. Good marketing is a must-have to subsequently drive traffic to your shop.
eTOC offers all services of the whole process:
Creation of an official WeChat account
We can support you in creating an account and discuss all relevant issues.
Creation of an H5 page for your shop or campaign
We will create mobile website for your WeChat Official Account.
Creation of a customised WeChat mini program shop
We assist you in designing your business for your brand according to your needs.
eTOC SaaS as a WeChat mini program shop template
We provide you with our special program to create your WeChat shop.
Implementation of marketing activities
We will support you in determining the best marketing activities for the promotion of your shop.
Managing Director Europe