As businesses race to adapt to the post-pandemic world, retailers in China are pushing ahead with innovative new business models to grow revenue online as seen in the increasing adoption of WeChat ecosystem products such as Mini Programs and WeCom.
Speaking at the 8th China Inbound-Outbound Forum in Beijing, Li Zhifeng, vice president of WeCom, the enterprise communication tool developed by the WeChat Team, said that international retailers in China are becoming more efficient and creative in customer engagement with the help of a suite of digital tools within the WeChat ecosystem.
“The demand for online services is not only growing with the pandemic but also changing fast. Private traffic, live commerce, cross-border e-commerce, group purchases……these new marketing trends in China are catching on with domestic and international brands alike,” Mr. Li said. “Our digital tools are helping businesses thrive by facilitating management of their own channels and user relationships. That enables them to achieve higher profit margins compared to other marketplaces.”
Over the past year, WeChat, one of China’s most popular social media and payment platforms, has played a central role in connecting users as well as businesses with new features such as Channels livestreaming and enhanced inter-connectibility with WeCom. Transaction volume generated by Mini Programs more than doubled year-on-year in the April-June quarter as more retailers moved online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deeply engaging shopping experience has been a boon for the FMCG sector in particular, which saw transactions through Mini Programs increase nearly five times in 2020. Li said more enterprises are utilizing WeCom to provide customized marketing to their target audience on WeChat and better manage their operation. For example, American supermarket Walmart has completely digitalized the shopping experience at over 400 storefronts in China with Mini Programs and the “scan-to-pay” feature, and WeCom is being used by its procurement department in more than 20 countries.”
Luxury skincare and cosmetics brands were among the beneficiaries of WeChat ecosystem’s digital capabilities as well. Brands and merchants can acquire customers for their Mini Programs offline via QR Codes, distribute content via their own Official Accounts and thus drive repeat visits to their Mini Programs. Those visits are then converted into sales with Mini Programs’ powerful shopping functionalities and WeChat’s integrated payment feature. In addition, “Channels” short videos and livestreaming offer additional opportunities for merchants to convert traffic into sales.
During the promotional period for China’s “June 18” shopping festival this year, Lancome’s Gross Merchandise Value increased by 97% after the brand sold RMB 10 million worth of products through its live streaming platform within WeChat, while Armani’s cosmetics line witnessed a 279% increase in sales through its Mini Programs presence.
“We are working towards deploying our technologies and expertise to help SMEs, public services, and corporations collaborate internally and connect with their users as we move towards a world that is more mobile and digital,” Li said.