About Cross-border China WeChat Messaging Commerce
WeChat is the primary engagement channel for B2B and B2C sales and customer relationship management (CRM) in China.
In a country which leads the world now in every mobile usage and application metric, WeChat has emerged as the default business platform connecting commerce in the online environment with that of the physical offline world, often referred to as O2O.
Known for its 'apps within an app' model, WeChat has been cleverly built out by Tencent as a highly accessible open platform with a minimalist design footprint and supported by a universally extendable ecosystem.
Yet, WeChat remains a stripped back social messaging app with a 'swiss army knife' approach, providing a super-set of 360 degree functionality integrated seamlessly to that core 'knife cutting' communications role.
These WeChat hybrid features make it the core digital tool for a firm to engage and move the customer forward from where awareness/interest is achieved (e.g. Weibo), on down through every stage of the acquisition funnel, and beyond*.
Hence making WeChat essential in maximising customer lifetime value through its integration in both your e-commerce channel strategy and across many of your social CRM digital touchpoints.
(*More on this when we talk about WeChat Customer Engagement).
A device-independent business OS
WeChat's universality as a micro-channel by which people in China discover, evaluate, select and interact with brands, products and services sets it apart. Indirect as well as direct customer-supplier relationships are supported by its design, with third parties or intermediaries interacting along WeChat transactional and relational value chains in all vertical sectors and product categories.
The unrivaled success of WeChat is deeply rooted in its over-simplistic user interface (UI) and intuitive user experience (UX), removing any friction in social messaging, sharing or transactional commerce across one-to-one, group or extended communities.
WeChat uses technology in a highly immersive, almost stealth-like, way. For example, it stitches the off- and online worlds together via the ubiquitous QR code and, the recently launched, Mini-Program inserts function-specific 'light apps' technology into every social, sharing and interactive user scenario imaginable while removing the need to install native apps.
Significantly, China software experts point to the fact that WeChat is quickly becoming a device-independent business OS (operating system).
This shows how the messaging platform is emerging as an agnostic network, divorcing it from any mobile software standards controlled by iOS and Android [Note: this is akin to how Windows 3.0 became the de facto OS for the PC age, leveraging the user relationship because it sat above the root IBM DOS architecture].
Key Differentiators of WeChat
- The Official Account (OA) model is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) for brands and organisations to acquire, engage and offer services and ongoing support to their customers
- Authentication is provided as a secure protocol where every ID is linked directly to the mobile phone number of a certified user (Chinese government regulations prevent anyone from having a mobile number without being registered officially)
- Content editorial, digital article publishing and push notifications and alerts, combined with contextual search services for social discovery across published and posted content in articles, user-generated content (UGC), newsfeeds and groups, and service providers and brands' OAs.
- WeChat Moments personal user newsfeeds with social sharing, likes, comments and repost functionality
- Open API business model and 3rd party software development and integration standards
- Online-Offline (O2O) integration of services and technology via QR codes and 'lite app' Mini-Programs
- Third party embedded services including government support services, utility accounts access and payment, community welfare, health and public services provision
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