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Alipay: the Sprint for Mini-Programs

Posted in E-commerce on July 22nd 2020

WeChat has been very successful over the years. However, with lockdown, more and more merchants have also started to go digital and launch their mini-program on Alipay. The platform hosts more than 160,000 mini-programs and the company claims that over 640 million cumulative users have used this feature.  

Here are 3 great examples:

Starbucks' strategy combines shopping & lifestyle experience. On one side, you can order deliveries, buy online gift cards, and subscribe to the loyalty program, which triggers incentives and repetitive purchases. On the other side, it's an entire virtual ecosystem around building the brand's equity. The mini-program is almost used as a social media platform, providing a feed with news, content, key announcements & promotions. The goal is to take advantage of the high-frequency of visits.

Watsons has integrated its 4000 offline stores to the mini-program, which includes four segments: membership center, coupons for light members, scan-and-go function, and online order. This e-commerce platform not only gives the end-customers the flexibility to purchase online or offline but also provides information on stock availability and serves as a reminder. The combination of online and offline selling really offers an efficient way to scan-and-go allowing a self-checkout in-store and a convenient way to process online purchases with reservations or self-pickup options in physical stores (O2O).

Wahaha Daojia's mini-program has more than 8M users and 300,000 daily active users. It provides promotions on its membership and community channel, as well as interactive games to drive traffic and enhance retention. For instance, an online 7-day drinking water challenge game was held and followers were incentivized with prizes and coupons to adopt healthy behavior by drinking more, which is, at the same time, promoting Wahaha’s products in a smart way and encouraging repetitive purchases. Lately, the brand also implemented a delivery service using Alibaba’s Ele.me. platform.

Although WeChat is outperforming Alipay in the mini-program world currently, Alipay has its own strength in providing a plethora of payment and loyalty solutions. It also has a higher conversion rate compared to other platforms.

It was more difficult for Alipay's mini-programs to take off since people mainly use the platform to pay and not to browse content. However, it has been slowly and consistently growing a portfolio of mini-apps behind the scenes. With its large user base and the goal which is to incentivize them to spend more time on the app and stop seeing it as a payment platform only, there are also many opportunities for online-offline integrations! 

Sources: Azoya, Kr-asia


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