With over a billion accounts created and 846 million active users, WeChat is not only the favorite chatting app of China but is continually serving as an e-commerce platform which is starting to rival big Chinese retailers. Business opportunities are growing within WeChat through a new kind of marketing called “WeChat social commerce.”Many Chinese citizens don’t use WeChat to buy food yet. So far, less than 2.5% of Chinese consumers do their grocery shopping online, and if they do, they use Taobao & Tmall, or online supermarkets such as Walmart’s Yihaodian. Consumers place higher levels of trust in the authenticity of the leading B2C platforms.
So why should food companies set up a WeChat store?
WeChat e-commerce is a growing trend and accounted for roughly 26% of e-commerce sales in China in 2015. According to the recent NewRank’s WeChat e-commerce report, 14% of accounts have WeChat stores, and their sales are amazingly high, reports WalkTheChat. As explained by HKTDC on their website, WeChat commerce represents a new form of e-commerce, one where companies or individuals open shops via its platform. These stores mainly operate in one of two ways, the first being C2C shops which operate within circles of friends (also known as “Weishang” or “micro-business”). Despite WeChat trying to limit them, they are still the most common way to sell/buy on WeChat right now. The other form is B2C shops, which use public WeChat accounts to sell on third-party platforms such as Youzan (有赞), Weidian (微店) and Mengdian (萌店).
The growth of the B2C model will continue to develop and grow faster than that of C2C because consumers are demanding higher quality goods and services.
Why Does WeChat store have a huge potential for food businesses?
First of all, there is not a lot of competition yet. Although people are buying more food online nowadays, in particular through food ordering apps, NewRank’s report also showed that among all the popular WeChat shops, the food industry has the least number of stores. Only 3.2% of WeChat stores are food & drink-related, and only comprise 2% of the market on WeChat. However, with food & drinks being the second most purchased product category on Wechat, the demand certainly exists.
Furthermore, selling on WeChat fits mass market demand and low-priced items. Food prices are relatively low, thus making it easier to buy something right after reading an article impulsively. Users don’t take a lot of risks when purchasing a bottle of milk or some fruits.
Another factor is that people don’t want to download more apps on their phones: many food companies promote their apps to sell their products. According to QuestMobile, Chinese people are less inclined to download more apps to their phones, and if they do, these apps are opened less frequently than WeChat.
Finally, borders between e-commerce and social media are becoming blurred. A new kind of marketing is appearing: the WeChat social commerce which is successfully combining social content with mobile commerce. Food companies could use the social feed off their WeChat account to bring customers to their shops, something that is not possible on food apps or Taobao. The difference with e-commerce platforms such as Taobao is that WeChat commerce makes use of its parent platform’s ability to connect everything – social sharing, recommendations to close friends, and the presentation of products to a circle of friends, explains HKTDC.
Food companies who are WeChat experts
Here are some few examples of food companies who are doing great at WeChat Social Commerce.
On its official WeChat account, KFC enables consumers to order food on its WeChat’s interface. After payment with WeChat Wallet, customers only need to wait for the food to be delivered.
In its WeChat store, the whole interface is very vivid. KFC uses powerful KOLs, attractive design, interesting marketing words, and sometimes voice messages to arouse and keep customers’ interest.
Fruitday has partnered with Jd.com and is selling imported fresh food. Its official WeChat account has interesting and funny content related to fresh food such as fruits, milk, or fish sold in its store. Fruitday creates attractive social content with useful and healthy lifestyle tips. The articles are very popular. For example, one article about milk, a product sold on its WeChat store, has been viewed more than 5,776 times.
Three Squirrels is an emerging food brand that successfully attracted millennial consumers to their WeChat store. Users can choose what they want in the WeChat shop and are immediately served by little virtual animals. Selling all kinds of snack foods, Three Squirrels offers regular promotions and limited-time sales for seasonal products such as mooncakes.
Why aren’t there more food companies selling on WeChat store?
Firstly, most food brands have their own online stores. Selling on WeChat may be a growing trend, but it still needs time for most companies to realize the potential of WeChat m-commerce. Moreover, there is still a concern about the quality of the food sold on WeChat, just like all the other online food selling platforms. Customers buying food online cannot touch or smell the product like in the supermarket, which is a significant barrier. Also, some fresh products are not easy to deliver, such as fresh fruit or fish. Another essential reason is related to WeChat’s regulation about selling food. Although there are lots of stores on WeChat, a significant number of them are private, which means they don’t have any food supervision. These stores can still run without being recognized by any food authority organizations. In this case, more regulations for WeChat stores are needed.
To conclude, brands hoping to sell online in China should consider WeChat alongside brand sites and other e-commerce platforms. Another reason is that more and more advertisements can be officially sponsored in WeChat Moments. For the food industry, opening WeChat stores to promote products is also becoming the trend. For now, there might be just a few WeChat stores selling food, but the number is increasing at a steady rate.
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