WeChat mobile commerce platform overview

The WeChat mobile app is a quickly rising contender to the now Facebook-owned WhatsApp. With a rapidly growing user base and an ever-expanding feature list, WeChat is becoming a one-stop-shop for all a smartphone owner’s needs. In fact, with the new mobile commerce platform features recently added, which allow customers to buy directly from companies from within the app, ‘shop’ is becoming an increasingly appropriate title for the app.

WeChat overview

WeChat is a social chat app that combines a huge array of functions. It allows users to connect with each other and share a wide range of content, from text messages to photos and videos. The app can be used for individual and group chats, sharing photos, locating friends nearby, sending videos and broadcasting messages (source: WeChat).

The app has enjoyed widespread popularity, with its user base across the world reaching more than 355million as of 2013 Q4. This represents a jump from Q3 of over 30 per cent, equating to almost 85 million new users (source: Tech in Asia).

WeChat’s mobile commerce platform potential

When developing the app, Tencent wanted to focus on creating close and valuable interactions between genuine friends. Unlike Weibo, to which the app was often compared, WeChat is a platform for which users who already know each other can share content and socialise. It is this close connection between users that has made WeChat the perfect platform for m-commerce.

Most other applications have opted for display advertising to make their platforms profitable. Banner adverts can be displayed to huge groups of people in order to create a far-reaching message across a target market. WeChat makes this difficult, but the way its users are connected gives it great potential as a mobile commerce platform. Word of mouth is, as we’re sure you know, still the most effective form of marketing, and with Chinese consumers in particular valuing social recommendation, Tencent has an m-commerce platform with huge potential (source: Clickz).

WeChat – interesting facts

Mobile commerce spending in Q1 of 2014 totalled $10.3billion, representing a 140.8% year-on-year increase (source: Observer Solutions). WeChat works both for online sales, where the retailer takes money and goods or services are delivered; or offline, where retailers scan a QR code in store that has been generated by the app during the transaction. By teaming up with other apps WeChat has made it easy for users to pay for all kinds of services. This is perfectly illustrated by their partnership with a taxi app that resulted in 2million people using WeChat to pay for taxi rides in just one day in February this year (source: Tech in Asia). All kinds of companies have since teamed up with WeChat to offer in-app payments, with McDonalds being the first major company to do so (source: DMR).

From coffee to smartphones, WeChat users have already shown their willingness to purchase a range of goods and services via the app.