Arguably the world’s largest eCommerce market, China,is leading the race in deploying exciting and powerful mobile commerce programs and software. These advanced developments can be seen in the highly popular app ‘WeChat’; currently the most popular app inside of China with over 1.1 billion active users.
Often dubbed the ‘Whatsapp’ of China, WeChat is actually a far more advanced and powerful application. It combines all the best features of a number of apps including; Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp. Within the app, users can engage in the standard social media activities like, sharing posts, sending messages, uploading photos etc. However, what makes WeChat different is its incorporation of mobile commerce. This new method of directly connecting brands to consumers has completely changed how organizations promote themselves to their target market.
Similarly, to most social media sites, brands can place sponsored content in users WeChat ‘Moments’ timeline. This was introduced in January 2015 when WeChat selected around 50 brand advertisers for the initial trial, including Coca Cola and BMW. A Moment ad includes the brand account and a HTML link to the company site as well as up to 6 images and a brief ad description. Within the brand page users can find direct links to their site, where they can browse and shop for products, read reviews and post comments. In August 2015, WeChat Moments became accessible to all advertisers, and since then there has been a boom in brands promoting their products and image. Prices for ads range, depending on video length, size, links, detail etc.
The WeChat wallet feature has vastly reinvented the mobile commerce platform. In every WeChat user’s personal account, there’s a section called “Wallet.” By opening it users are given options including “Transfer,” “Utilities,” money for virtual goods (“QQ Coins”) as well as “Order Taxi” and “Movie Tickets.” You can pay for all of them without leaving the app as long as you add your debit card or credit card (only MasterCard or Visa). In terms of a close competitor, PayPal would be the most similar, however, WeChat is far more advanced technically. In 2015, transactions across WeChat payment reached $556 billion, almost twice that of PayPal’s $282 billion.
WeChat Wallet also uses QR codes to bridge the gap between online and offline. Users receive a QR code that associates with their bank account once they have enabled Wallet. The code automatically updates every minute for safety. Retailers, on the other hand, just need to scan the code to accept a payment. Many brands in China – including Dairy Queen (DQ), Uniqlo and McDonald’s – support WeChat Wallet QR codes. While QR codes are widely adopted in China, they haven’t quite taken off in the U.S.. Consumer behaviors are different, for one – what is trending over there doesn’t necessarily become popular here, and vice versa.
Ultimately, the digital wallet service WePay allows users to perform numerous mobile payments and to send money between contacts. As of March 2016, WeChat Pay had over 300 million users worldwide and is the fastest growing online payment method in China. By actively deploying market strategies that incorporate the WeChat/WePay features, brands can easily promote their products while engaging with their customer base. It offers huge opportunity for growth and ROI and should be deployed by any brand operating within mainland China, as well as those looking to enter the market.
Beijing-based Web Presence In China (WPIC) is an independent, full service digital marketing and IT development agency. Having over 13 years of on the ground experience in the China digital sector, the firm has worked with over 300 global companies and leads a team of 120 people between their global offices. WPIC supports China and the greater APAC region in digital and IT solutions.