WeChat, China’s social media giant, is reinventing e-commerce. Since 2014, developers have been given the possibility to create different kinds of online services, directly on the application. And this is a big step for Tencent’s company, which is taking a leap forward in social content-driven commerce.
WHAT HAS CHANGED IN THE WAY START-UPS GET SUCCESSFUL?
On the Chinese market, what used to be important was not whether your product had potential but rather the investment you made and who where your connections. Indeed, strategies used to rely a lot on user acquisition: using promotions or advertising was the way to go.
Nowadays this has totally changed and WeChat is behind this revolution. Why? Because WeChat is not only a messaging application: you can make purchases directly on the application through WeChat’s Wallet, you can share recommendations on its social network and brands can get insights of the discussions taking place about their products. Developers are now able to build applications directly on WeChat using these information… and the potential is huge.
What has changed now is that any content can get viral very quickly thanks to this application: everybody has WeChat on their phone in China and they all use these features. Therefore, the safest bet is to rely on content and wait for the magic to operate. Not only will this strategy have more chances to succeed but it is also cheaper than the traditional ads pushed to users.
WHY IS WECHAT AHEAD OF ITS COMPETITION?
The main difference between WeChat and any other international social media is not this virality it encourages but this ability to make purchases.
Let’s take an example with Facebook: start-ups can go viral on this platform. However, in order to get an Internet user to make a purchase, you will need to redirect him to a different application or another website. After making him change platform, you will then need to convert this social media-induced impulse into a purchase. It therefore involves double the effort for you to get him to buy your products or to subscribe to your service.
Things are way simpler on WeChat because it centralizes everything in app, so WeChat users do not even need to leave the application. Since everything you see on WeChat can be purchased instantly, the only concern you should focus on is to build a community and to influence the discussion around your content.
Many start-ups aiming at succeeding on WeChat will use this social-driven commerce angle and the existing business models are very diverse (review services, online stores etc).
HOW IS THIS E-COMMERCE PROCESS GOING TO EXPAND NEXT?
Marketing professionals hope to be able to profit from the experience they have gained in China. They expect these social media-induced e-commerce processes to thrive in other dynamic markets such as Indonesia, Brazil or India.
These markets might imply other challenges than in China and differences in culture, income or consumption habits will definitely modify the approach which should be adopted in these countries. Nonetheless it is considered that regarding social media to e-commerce processes, marketers got the basics covered.
Consumers in these countries do not use WeChat and new mechanism will need to be created, by using existing widespread social media or by developing a new application.
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