*This article was originally published on FOCUS as a guest blog on April 25th, 2022
So, you are already selling on JD and Tmall. The next step is launching your brand on WeChat to access 1.3 billion monthly active users. Mini Programs and mobile websites make for excellent online stores in WeChat, while Official Accounts and Channels let you craft your brand image and reach new customers.
Where can I sell on WeChat?
Mini Programs and mobile websites are both used to host e-commerce stores within WeChat. Both can be accessed from Official Accounts, articles, users sharing to individual or group chats, or by scanning QR codes.
WeChat serves as an app store for Mini Programs, which are apps that function inside of WeChat. This often gives the best experience for users accessing your e-commerce store through WeChat.
Mobile websites, known as H5’s in China, are accessed via WeChat’s built-in web browser and usually function almost as well as Mini Programs.
There are also several “no-code” platforms that allow sellers to open WeChat store websites without developing their own platforms – i.e., “Shopify for China”. The leading providers are WeiDian, WeiMob, and YouZan.
How do I promote my store?
WeChat Official Accounts
Official Accounts let sellers post articles about their brand and direct users to their store. Articles can be shared to individual and group chats, as well as WeChat Moments, and users follow the account to receive notifications for new updates. Depending on the type of account, they can post daily or weekly and can appear directly in WeChat’s list of chats, amongst the user’s friends and group chats.
Channels let brands post videos and Livestream. Product demonstrations, tutorials and comparisons are effective ways of engaging the audience and communicating product quality.
Compared to features offered by other short video platforms, Channels is an especially effective marketing tool because it leverages WeChat users’ contacts to push content viewed by their friends directly to their daily feed.
How can I be legally compliant?
All websites and Mini Programs in China require an ICP Filing to operate and depending on the scope of your products, additional licenses such as B25 Value-added telecommunications license, EDI license, and industry-specific licenses may be required. Certain products face limitations (such as baby products, milk powder, pet products, and alcohol) and if you are offering products from multiple brands, you will need to qualify as an e-commerce platform. More information on the licenses required for different stores can be found here in WeChat’s support documents.
The most recent rules require Chinese user data to be stored on servers within China. Since local servers are needed for the best user experience anyway, this shouldn’t be a problem for new store owners.
WeChat also has clear and effective rules to protect users from unethical business practices such as scams, spamming, and false advertising. A self-review conducted according to the WeChat Mini Program Platform Operation Rules is recommended before submitting for approval.
What about Payments?
WeChat Pay functions smoothly within Mini Programs and mobile websites, and can be set up with a business license, required industry licenses, a corporate bank account and real-name verification.
Companies without a legal presence in China may be restricted in business scope and cross-border payments, so it is often recommended to partner with a local company that can assist in obtaining necessary licenses.
Now that we’ve covered the tools provided by WeChat to power your e-commerce business in China, it’s a straightforward formula: Mini Programs and mobile websites showcase your branded products like a physical store, whereas WeChat Official Accounts and Channels are where effective marketing occurs. Finally, it is beneficial to find a Chinese partner like AppInChina for streamlined compliance fulfillment, cross-border payment setup, and customs clearance so that your e-commerce business with WeChat can run legally and smoothly.
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