During our recent webinar on WeChat e-commerce, we received an overwhelming number of questions from our super-engaged audience members. And, because we thought you might have the same questions, we wanted to share them with everyone here.
Q: E-commerce mini programs saw massive growth during the peak of the coronavirus in China. Now that things are returning to normal, are they still relevant, or have brands that don’t yet have an e-commerce mini program already missed the boat?
A: No, now of course it would have been great if you had one in place prior to the crisis to have helped you better weather the height of the storm, but that being said, consumer behaviors and Chinese consumer practices have changed because of the coronavirus and that is unlikely to go back to the way it was before even once the pandemic is over. We saw that happen back in 2003 with SARS and the growth of e-commerce marketplaces. It’s just going to become part of the fabric of the reality of the world today.
Many consumers were already accustomed to shopping on WeChat before the virus, and this situation simply accelerated its growth. I think it’s better late than never.
Q: Is MP commerce useful for other industries, for example education companies or schools? Or businesses in the hospitality industry?
A: First let’s talk about education. We work with one of the largest education brands in China and well before before coronavirus hit they went through a total digital transformation where they moved all of their customer interactions, whether it be registering a lead they meet at a booth in the mall, sharing content on their Official Account, or pay for classes, all on to WeChat. So yes, education is certainly an area where mini programs for sales and registrations can be successful.
For travel, the ability for someone to book a flight or a hotel room within a brand mini program just helps build brand equity and allows that brand to have a much stronger relationship with their customers rather than driving them away from your brand to an OTA to book. Also once they book on a mini program, you can send them template notification messages reminding them their trip is coming up and any visas or documentation they may need to get. Or you could send them coupons for activities they could do during their stay.
Q: How to get followers from MPs (because someone can use your mini program without following your Official Account)? How can you drive them back to your Official Account and retain that user?
A: So one the first things you want to do is set up Open ID for your brand so the data from your Official Account to your mini programs are connected. That’s extremely important because then you can track which mini program users are already your followers. Then second, there are ways to send out messages from your mini program to invite individuals who aren’t yet your followers to follow your Official Account.
Q: Can you integrate in your backend not only WeChat but also Tmall and JD.com data?
A: From an inventory management perspective yes. You can’t necessarily integrate content such as images, videos or product information, but your product inventory you certainly can integrate.
Q: You shared that we can use mini programs to collect customer data, but how do we use this data to optimize our WeChat operations?
A: This is one of my favorite topics as this is something our software specializes in. So if you're collecting data against an individual’s interactions with your mini program, for example what shirt they looked at, what item they searched for, what they ordered, or what they put in their cart but abandoned, then based on that data you can customize the messaging and articles that you're going to send to that consumer through your Official Account, you can optimize the offers you send them, customize the products that are recommended to them when they enter the mini program again, etc.
And what’s more, if you have bound their Union ID and PII, then you can collect data on that user from all your WeChat touchpoints, not only the mini program. For example, the content they look at in your Official Account, your point-of-sale data from physical retail stores, QR code scans from your sales associates or KOL campaigns, all of that can be combined together in your CRM to create a 360 view of the customer.
Q: Should your MP have standalone e-commerce or is linking the MP to JD sufficient?
A: We do not recommend linking the MP to JD.com. We recommend having a standalone mini program shop as well as a presence on one of the big marketplaces whether that is Tmall or JD.com.
By linking from the MP to JD.com and driving the user out of the WeChat ecosystem you are losing the main benefits of having an e-commerce MP which are that you own all of the data, you're not paying a commission to any of the marketplaces, and you have the ability to track all of their actions within WeChat and retarget them. The user experience is also not as smooth and friction always results in a lower conversion rate.
Q: What should we pay attention to when engaging Chinese consumers on mini-programs during the coronavirus period? Are there any taboos?
A: Well obviously when engaging with consumers you need to be sensitive to their situation and the emotional roller coaster they are going through. While brands’ bottom lines are suffering, our customers are also feeling pain and we need to be respectful of that.
Yet that doesn’t mean going silent. It's important to continue communications during this period. We saw a lot of international brands in China freeze up because they weren’t sure what to say, while many domestic brands actually used this as an opportunity to send out more content and develop a closer relationship with consumers.
Q: If our brand has already been collecting client data and want to sync the data we already have with the new data we collect on WeChat, what is the best way to do that?
A: Chatly technology supports a data synch during implementation. As long as there is a matching variable (WeChat ID, phone, etc…) we can match that data and remove duplicates.