How WeChat Can Transform Your eCommerce Business
You may have heard of WeChat, but are you aware of the incredible opportunities that it can give you?
WeChat is often described as the Chinese version of WhatsApp but it’s so much more than this.
The easiest way to sum it up is that it’s all the apps that you would normally use in your daily life, combined. It’s Facebook, Skype, Google Maps, Whatsapp, Uber, and your preferred payment-provider… all rolled up into one.
It’s so popular in China that it’s literally a way of life. The Chinese use it for almost everything!
And if you run an eCommerce business, it can help you with so much more than just chatting to your supplier.
You can use this knowledge to your advantage, as it is a powerful application that would not just connect you with customers but to your suppliers as well.
And finally – if you’re going to Canton Fair in China, it’s best that you make sure that you have this app properly set up on your phone. You’ll need it to pay for samples, connect with suppliers, find other members and businesses by sharing locations, and much more.
So in this article, we’ll share with you how you can get the most out of WeChat for your eCommerce business, as well as how to get the WeChat pay functionality set up too.
First things first – what is WeChat?
WeChat or Weixin (微信 – literally, “micro message”), was launched in January 2011. It was immediately embraced by the Chinese people, and within its first 14 months, the app had over 100 million users.
Currently, WeChat has over 1 billion monthly users and even 200 million users outside of China. It has evolved from a simple messaging app (with the usual functions similar to Whatsapp or FB Messenger) into something so much more…
So what can you do with WeChat?
- Payments – you can use the app to pay for your purchases, through WeChat Pay. It’s not even limited to online purchases – even brick and mortar stores in China accept WeChat Payments. So if you’re at the Canton Fair, you can pay for your lunch or product samples via this convenient feature!
- Sending Files – you can send all types of files using the app, pretty much like email, as long as it is within the 25mb limit.
- Booking Taxis– you can use WeChat to call for a taxi whenever or wherever you want in China (pretty much like Uber). This is a handy feature if you’re going to China & want to take a nearby trip during your time off.
- Transferring Money– you can easily transfer money to your friends and family using the app; they can then use this to purchase items using WeChat Pay.
- Booking Tickets – you can use the app to purchase tickets like movie tickets, train tickets or even flight tickets! And then when you’re checking in, you can it to scan your boarding card.
And as a business… How can WeChat help you in your business?
This is all sounds well and good, but if you’re not a Chinese citizen, what use could you possibly have for WeChat?
For one thing, you can tap into the Chinese market by using this platform, as it is integrated into their daily life. Businesses actually do this, as they post content and engage directly with their customers on WeChat using their official accounts. However, it goes well beyond just using it to enter the Chinese market.
It’s easier to talk and do business with your Chinese suppliers over WeChat.
Since WeChat is a way of life for most Chinese people, we like to use the app to communicate with our suppliers. It shows you’re a serious importer and understand their culture.
It’s the perfect communication tool for them, and your Chinese suppliers and business partners would greatly appreciate it if you are on the platform.
Use it as a way to communicate with your suppliers – you can text easily, call each other, send photos or videos of samples, share invoices, and more. This way, you can keep all your communications in one place.
Transactions are easier because you can pay for their products over WeChat Pay.
WeChat Pay is one of the preferred payment methods in China. Your suppliers should be set up with this payment method, and it will be a quick and easy way of transacting with them.
The strength of this app lies in its convenience. Say, for example, that you’re in the Canton Fair, and you meet a potential supplier with a product that you really like. Instead of logging into your local bank account, you can immediately send money to your potential supplier to get some samples produced.
Since it’s an all-in-one app, you can even use it to share your location and find suppliers and even your friends – a very handy tool, because the Canton Fair is massive!
And you use it to pay suppliers when you’re not in China too. If you want to purchase samples or pay for stock, you can use WeChat Pay wherever and whenever!
Aside from this convenience, using WeChat to transact with your suppliers mean you are using a platform that they are very familiar with. This immediately establishes a better rapport with your suppliers and will be a very good start to hopefully a long and fruitful partnership.
So how can I get WeChat?
Hopefully, this article has shown you the value you can get from using the WeChat app. It’s free to download on the app store and you can use it on any mobile device.
And once you’ve downloaded the app, make sure you link your credit card so you can pay via WeChat Pay. Here’s how to do this:
- Click on “Discover”. In the top right of the screen, click on the Search icon, and type in “My Wallet”
- Click on “Wallet”, then hit “Cards”
- Add the details of your bank card, and hit save
*NB: We’ve recently heard that (since March 2019), WeChat have made it harder for foreigners to link a foreign bank card with your WeChat account. There are a few workarounds you can do – like pay your hotel or a local friend in cash and ask them to top up your WeChat account, so you can still benefit from paying via the app. When we’re in China for Canton Fair, we’ll try to find the best way to do this and let you know!
In summary, WeChat is a great platform that can help you connect with people, and help your business grow. Try it out, and see how you can make WeChat work for you.
Next time you’re in China, try to live as the locals do and use the app to make your life easier – you’ll immediately see why it’s used by over a billion people.