WeChat-mini program marketplace, another bombshell dropping from Tencent to compete with Alibaba?

In China WeChat mini program is the most promising and most confusing topic in 2018. Period. The good side is it is actually much cheaper (at least 20% cheaper) and takes less time to develop a WeChat Mini Program than a comparable app. It usually requires developers to create traditional apps for two different platforms, iOS and Android, which would drive the costs higher; in the meantime, WeChat mini program runs on one system only – WeUI.

 

However this hot baby carries limitation as well, for instance,

 

  • A Mini Program’s installation package cannot exceed 1,024 kilobytes. This means it only can integrate limited choices of features compared with a full-scale native app at this stage.

 

  • It is in fact not that easy to promote new mini program within WeChat as users cannot subscribe to or share them on WeChat’s Moments feed (which is equivalent to Facebook news feed), though you can send the mini program link to your WeChat conversation with your connections. You either deliberately search them within Wechat or scan their related QR codes.

 

Of course, Tencent might remove all these barriers in the near future. 

 

For years Tencent has this aggressive ambition of competing with Alibaba’s marketplace Taobao, but it has remained an unfulfilled dream. All the marketplace experiments powered by Tencent or JD in the past had been one failure after the other. Anyhow dream should never die. So welcome to Weshop, a new social e-commerce marketplace capitalizing on the rising popularity of mini program, and above all a new collaboration between JD and Meili United Group(the biggest social e-commerce conglomerate in China). Below is the consumer journey inside Wechat to find Weshop, and the entry point is obviously via JD shopping. 

 

 

By March, Weshop claimed it already recruited over 97,000 vendors, with an average daily growth of 3,000 mini program stores. The platform currently works on the strategy of content driven. Each vendor just displays alluring products or posts interesting articles, and no direct purchase link inside. Readers must go through several steps and add the vendor account as a friend before any shopping action. There is also no basic search function inside this mini e-commerce platform.

 

 

The consumer journey seemed a bit complicated and lackluster compared with the Alibaba Taobao ecosystem right now, but the process might be simplified soon. We will need to wait and see how this thing will evolve in the long run. According to some statistics, about 75% of WeChat official accounts had fewer than 10,000 followers and just 1.8% of official accounts had more than 1 million followers. These might imply only a limited number of Mini Programs stores are likely to gain considerable traffics and conversions.

 

Author: Cecilia Wu