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eCommerce in China: a WeChat Mini Program built with Magento

Posted in E-commerce on September 30th 2020
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Vice President and Co-founder at IT Consultis

You have decided to create your eCommerce WeChat Mini Program to sell in China, “congratulations. That was for sure an excellent decision you just made.”  

Here’s why. WeChat is the number 1 Chinese social media, with over 1.2 billion users in August 2020. The social app is now famous for, among other things, its Mini Programs. The Mini Programs are like Mobile Applications but in a simpler version which have been directly integrated into WeChat.  

There is no need to download a ton of different applications: everything is inside WeChat, from your Taxi booking to your Coronavirus tracking code. 

But how can you build your own eCommerce WeChat Mini Program and start playing the Chinese eCommerce game? 

 

Magento vs Youzan

There are basically two options when it comes to Wechat eCommerce: either you choose to use a third-party eCommerce site like Youzan or Weidian (the Shopify of China), or you can go ahead and build your own Mini Program from scratch using a backend framework such as Magento

Third-party sites are great solutions for very small businesses with a very tight budget and who only need a simple solution. However, these providers do not permit the development of a personalized and highly customized designed solution. Also, a third-party site will not allow you to gather customers’ data. This is the same data you need for tailoring your products and services so that you can continue giving your customers exactly what they need and exactly when they need it.

On the other hand, if what you intend to own, build, and design is a WeChat Mini Program without limits, one to which you can add all the features you need such as integrating referral programs and collecting all your eCommerce data, then you definitely need a Magento framework.  

This type of WeChat Mini Program described above can be developed with Magento by digital agencies like ITC.  

Aside these, there are many other reasons why Magento is the perfect solution for building Mini Programs but before we dive into those reasons, Let’s first discover the WeChat ecosystem and learn a bit more about Mini Programs. 

 

WeChat Social Commerce: A Trend to Adopt 

WeChat provides a social media network and a unique payment mechanism. 

This reason, amongst many others, is why almost everybody enjoys using WeChat in China. It's today, considered the best platform to showcase and promote goods in the whole of China. Mini-programs through WeChat are broadly used and excellent solutions for your eCommerce business in China. 

Forget about Website in China: Choose Social Commerce  

In the West, Social Commerce is only starting to emerge into its own in 2020 through social networks such as Facebook and Instagram. Shoppers now enjoy buying inside a community, through social media and KOLs fanbases. And video contents permit them to visualize the products, collect feedback and buy. 

However, this particular trend appeared in China several years ago and has now been in use for a really long time. Hence, if you decide to start an eCommerce in China, then you’ll have to play with the Chinese rules: sell through social commerce and start building your WeChat Mini Program

The Power of WeChat in China  

To assert that all eCommerce merchants are WeChat users may appear as an ambiguous assertion, but it is almost definitely the case in China nowadays. WeChat has now reached 1.2 billion customers  with the largest percentage of them using the app to monitor brand details.​  

So, while other social networks only capture certain market segments, WeChat is the only platform where it’s possible to approach all of your Chinese clients all at once, making it the perfect centre for your store. Since the platform is already where your customers spend most of their time, with the typical consumer spending over 110 mins a day on WeChat,​ why shouldn’t you trade there as well? 

 

WeChat Mini Programs: The Keys to conquer The Chinese Ecosystem  

Mini-programs are mini-apps that consumers can effortlessly navigate and then use without quitting the WeChat app. They’re all built on top of WeChat's current system and IT technology. Mini WeChat programs have taken China's e-commerce sector by storm as they give businesses connectivity to an immense customer base.  

Instead of mobile applications, consumers prefer Mini Programs to purchase movie tickets, enjoying promotions, and more, making it an incredibly valuable platform for merchants to interact with clients

Fast Access & Navigation 

In addition to providing easier access to your products without leaving the social platform, WeChat Mini programs also offer your customers smooth and fast navigation

WeChat Mini Programs are quick to load because they are small with 10 MB being the maximum for a WeChat Mini program. This ensures that the user does not need to have a lot of computational strength before accessing your online store. Typically, it may not be overflowing with tools, but you can only create so many attributes. 

Mobile Payments  

Over the last couple of years, payment by cell phone has become a regular activity in China. According to Statista​,​ 765 million people were using Mobile Payments in China in March 2020. Mobile payments have become so common in the daily life of the Chinese people, that the Chinese tourism industry now allows this method of payments outside of China to offer Chinese tourists a better journey. 

Mobile payments in China seem to be so working so effectively well because they’re both quick and easy. A feat that has been achieved because of QR codes.

A QR Code World 

QR Codes are now all over China. They’re so common that even street performers use them to raise money. 

For regular businesses in China, customers can pay with QR codes by scanning the QR code of the vendor, which is most frequently published and available at the counter, on restaurant tables, and, in certain shops, on the items. The consumer then selects the sum and can immediately transfer the money to the seller. 

Developing a Mobile Payment for your eCommerce Mini Program in China then seems like the next best step for your business. And if you allow us we are going to help you master the WeChat ecosystem as well as link your eCommerce platform with WeChat pay, providing you with QR code payments option. 

Now that you understand some specificity of the Chinese eCommerce ecosystem. Are you ready to discover how Magento is going to be your favorite tool to master them? 

 

The strengths of Magento as a back-end for your WeChat Mini Programs  

With the supremacy of Alibaba TMall and its related brands, global market consolidation was formerly an eCommerce pattern in China. However, today, we see the world become more hierarchical, with social media marketing taking fuller shape. And this becomes particularly relevant with the introduction of Mini-Programs, which can incorporate online store-based purchases into customers' social media applications. 

An Open Source Solution 

Magento is an eCommerce platform with the largest group of retailers and programmers worldwide. It’s developed through Open Source and enterprise technologies.  

But what does this really mean? Open Source implies that a lot of resources are available online to help you develop your eCommerce solution. Meaning it doesn’t matter what crazy idea you can possibly come up with, we can help you build that eCommerce platform exactly how you imagined it.

Ours is an open-source e-commerce platform that can be deemed a cornerstone for Commerce. With the support of third-party plugins and customization options, you can exploit an ample spectrum of tools each version offers and expand its essential features.  

For an eCommerce WeChat Mini Program in China, you’re also going to be needing Chinese netizens who can provide you with insights about the best customer journey to create, as well as the regulations to follow. 

And this is what we do at ITC. As a digital agency based in Shanghai, we can provide you with the best eCommerce solutions for China and the Chinese market. With our team of Chinese developers, we can build you the perfect WeChat Mini Program, among other solutions, to help you reach millions of customers at once.  

Entirely Customizable 

If you want your shop to appear enticing to customers, then you need Magento.  

Magento is the most versatile and total e-commerce solution provider open to all kinds of companies. Designed as open-source software, you can openly customize Magento to suit the exact needs of your company. The application supports unending custom functions through various plug-ins and modifications. This means you can insert whichever features whenever you want. You will always find a solution from Magento, whether you need simple eCommerce functionality for your online store or advanced options to manage production.  

Unlike third-party providers, you are not limited to a template. You can personalize every feature you would like to implement inside your WeChat Mini Program. The Cat Brand Vetreska imagined, for example, a scale designed with hearts for ranking their products. They even developed an entire referral program to attract more users. And that was exactly what they got from us.

Discover the Mini Program we built for a leading Cat brand 

Magento Commerce offers the ability to generate unique and exclusive customer experience that will reinvent your brand. Designed for an excellent, strong, and cost-effective innovation, the system blends rich, out-of-the-box features, business efficiency and scale, and powerful business strategies to keep you aware of progressively complicated business activities and expand customer demands. 

Therefore, Magento is able to integrate WeChat into its system, and bring the Chinese shopper much closer. 

Open API to connect with the WeChat Ecosystem 

Magento also offers out of the box APIs that can be easily integrated during the development of a WeChat Mini Program. Rest APIs and GraphQIs are available on Magento natively, these can be used to integrate a Mini Program front-end with some modification and addition.  

Each database and incorporation functions as delegated sources that are open to them. The API system records the calls to check whether the company is allowed to make the request. 

At ITC, we can create these API and completely integrate your Magento back-end to your WeChat Mini Program.  

What About your Mini Program Project ? 

IT Consultis is a digital agency in Shanghai, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City strongly committed to researching, creating and executing the best digital solutions, ranging from strategic projects to entirely tailor-made web developments, Mini Programs,appse-commerce websites, and in-store experiences.

IT Consultis helps you build excellence in your digital transformation strategy in ChinaContact us to know more.

Send us an email at : aurelien.rigart@it-consultis.com