Wechat mini-programs will rule China e-commerce in 2020

Tencent has some ambitious plans for Wechat mini-programs that they unleashed on the audience of the 2020 Open Class that took place on the 9th of January in Guangzhou. Wechat appears to be a serious competitors to established E-commerce players and has the potential to lower the cost of customer acquisition for brands.

The company released some impressive numbers regarding the mini-programs including: 

  • The daily active users of Wechat mini programs has already reached 300 million 
  • In 2019, 800 billion RMB (116 billion USD) of sales took place through Wechat mini-programs 
  • This represented a whopping 160% increase from the previous year. 

Now the plan is to leverage its 1,51 Billion monthly active users and ramp up these figures in the next year by creating a powerful E-commerce ecosystem that can rival Alibaba, Jd.com and Pinduoduo. At the Open Class, speaker August Du outlined a number of impressive new innovations that are set to change the E-commerce landscape in China. 

Official Flagship Stores 

In order to increase customer trust, Wechat will now help brands verify their official flagship stores. Stores that are verified will get an “official” brand badge which will also give you and your brand better search rankings. 

Search  

Mini Programs will now be integrated into search results meaning that there will be greater exposure for both the brands and the products sold in the Mini programs. The search capabilities have been greatly refined for the benefit of brands. 

  • New more powerful search features that will make it easy for to search for products that are sold in Mini programs.  
  • Search can now be optimized for specific aspect of a brands page including keywords, descriptions and product labels. 
  • Product scan search is another new feature to be found in the 7.0.10 version. This will allow users to use phone cameras to search for products and link automatically to the product in a Brand’s store and make an instantaneous purchase.  

Live Commerce 

In September of 2019, Tencent announced that it was integrating live streaming into its E-Commerce Mini program toolbox. Brand owners are able to livestream from their Mini program and or the live broadcast page. Users are able to jump back to the brand’s Mini program to make a purchase. 

The new updated search capabilities mean that through searching for content they can also get results for brands live streaming and watch the live stream. They can also see planned streams for that brand or products and arrange a reminder for later.  

This looks like a huge development in the China Live Commerce market that was valued at RMB 440 billion in 2019 according to an Everbright Securities report, which is around $63 billion USD and expected to rise to over RMB 500 billion. LiveCommerce has been the golden goose for Alibaba this years Singles Day, with a record level of RMB 20 billion of sales being attributed Live Commerce on Taobao

Summary 

What this means is that Wechat is moving into the space of becoming a real rival to the established E-commerce giants. Customer acquisition has become so expensive on the main E-commerce platforms, that Wechat has a big chance to take increasing market share.   Brands who are struggling with the high costs of customer acquisition can not afford to overlook investing in their Wechat flagship store this year