WeChat is the most popular social media site in China. Owned by Tencent, the biggest video company in the world, the WeChat social media platform boasts over 1.2 billion monthly users.
The overwhelming majority of Chinese people have at least one active account, with plenty of users using multiple accounts for selling things on WeChat. The app is an intrinsic part of daily life in China –– offering messaging, news, group chats, calls, and even payment processing services to its users.
For e-commerce business owners looking to break into the Chinese market, becoming a WeChat seller would be your first main goal in establishing your brand in the region.
This article will offer tips for e-commerce brands looking to start selling things on WeChat.
Why should brands consider selling things on WeChat?
In mainland China, WeChat is ubiquitous –– to a much greater extent than rival social media platforms like Facebook in the West. Yes, we can make calls, group chat, and buy products from Facebook. But WeChat’s all encompassing social app goes a lot further in ingraining itself into Chinese society.
For instance, you can use the app to pay for your daily commute, your morning coffee, and grocery shopping. The app is also a vital lifeline for your social life and so much more. If you run a business that operates in China, it is imperative to set up a WeChat profile. Put simply, WeChat is the single most crucial place to become visible as a brand in the Chinese market.
Here are the steps you need to take as an international e-commerce brand to begin making sales through WeChat.
Step 1: Set up a WeChat Official Account
There are a few different WeChat account types. Follow this link and set up a WeChat Service Account to sell as an overseas brand. To complete the registration process, you will need to:
- Fill in an application form including your country of origin, email, telephone number, business details, etc.
- Verify your telephone number (via SMS).
- Pay a $99 WeChat account verification fee.
- Receive a phone call from WeChat to verify your account status and details.
Once your application for a WeChat Service Account is accepted, read up on the terms and conditions. Depending on your WeChat account type, you are limited in the number of push notifications you can send over a set period. For example, WeChat Service Account holders can send out four push notifications per month. But, with a brand page, you can also send unlimited messages to followers who contact you directly.
By contrast, WeChat Subscription Accounts allow profile owners to post more frequently (once a day). Subscription accounts are not ideal for brands looking to make sales, as posts are less visible on users’ main feeds.
Step 2: Create a WeChat seller storefront
Unlike Amazon and Facebook marketplaces, Tencent’s app does not have an on-site store building tool for WeChat sellers. Therefore, you will need to enlist the help of a third-party to help you create your WeChat storefront. Many English speaking third-party companies offer WeChat store building services. For instance, you can check out: Youzan, Weimob, and Wedian.
Once your store is complete, use a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) e-commerce platform like Shopify. Next, identify a third-party app like WalktheChat to connect your WeChat store with your Shopify site. Linking the two sites allows WeChat sellers to manage transactions and inventory from one dashboard.
You might want to also consider enlisting the help of a marketing agency that specialises in selling things on WeChat. Chinese marketing agencies can help you identify opportunities to customise or gamify your WeChat shop. As a bonus, marketing agencies can offer ideas for marketing campaigns to boost engagement with your Chinese audience.
Open a World Account for free
- Open up to 10 local currency accounts, with local sort codes, account numbers and IBANs
- Collect secure payments from 100+ marketplaces, overseas buyers and payment processing gateways
- Pay suppliers, partners and staff in 40 currencies without hidden fees
- Pay and get paid easily with local bank details on your invoices
- Lock in conversion rates to manage your currency risk
Step 3: Create a WeChat Advertising Account
Like Facebook and Instagram, there are multiple ad formats available to marketers. WeChat offers advertisers three main types of ads:
- WeChat Moment Ads: This is the most expensive form of display advertising. Moment Ads appear on users’ timelines and are the most visible ad type on the WeChat platform (the cost per 1,000 impressions is around 65 RMB).
- WeChat Mini Program Ads: Mini Program Ads work like display advertising campaigns and are optimised to appear where users find your content most relevant. For example, if your store sells gaming headsets, your ad could appear within a WeChat mini game (the cost per 1,000 impressions is around 11 RMB).
- WeChat Article Ads: Like native ds, Article Ads appear at the bottom of WeChat articles and are amongst the cheapest campaigns to run. However, engagement is typically low. Article Ads would be a good investment for brands looking to increase their follower count.
In addition to running ads on WeChat, new e-commerce brands should also do all they can to increase their organic reach on the platform. Attracting as many brand followers as possible is a great way of improving engagement. QR codes are a very popular way of getting your sales messages across to Chinese consumers.
Include marketing QR codes on all of your product packaging and connect the codes to an incentive, such as money off of purchases for becoming a brand follower on the platform.
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