According to the “Insight on the Rise of Online Consumption and Content in China 2017” by iResearch, WeChat store accounted for a 39.4% of the overall online retail channel in 2017. During 2012 – 2017, the percentage growth of the WeChat store was 28.1%.
Source：“Insight on the Rise of Online Consumption and Content in China 2017” by iResearch.
Thus, WeChat store will inevitably become one of the most important channels for an online retailer. Let’s investigate some cases of certain popular WeChat Stores in China.
Case study of popular WeChat Stores in China
1、江小白 JiangXiaoBai : Tailor-made WeChat Store
JiangXiaoBai is a popular Chinese sorghum wine from Chongqing. Sorghum wine is a traditional white wine in China. Yet, JiangXiaoBai is showcasing an impressive social media and sales strategy.
JiangXiaoBai WeChat Store
In previous article, we reviewed the strategy that JiangXiaoBai practiced. In short, interesting and fascinating emotional expressions had printed on the bottle – attracting consumers to ‘tweet’ it on the social media.
Emotional messages on the JiangXiaoBai bottle
As JiangXiaoBai is relying on the social media strategy, there must be some according online social functions to be realized on the WeChat Store. Problem comes when the SaaS platform is not able to accomplish this kind of tailor-made social add-ons and functions.
For example, there is a “Gift” session in the WeChat Store. Gifting is the most common Chinese phenomenon and social interaction. Users can check his ‘gift list’ (received or gifted) where more interactions can be brought out among users. That’s why only tailor-made platform can fulfill specific requirement and hence a positive branding and promotion opportunity to the enterprise.
2、FlowerPlus: Pre-ordered Flora WeChat Shop
‘Out of Stock’ is a quite common term at the FlowerPlus WeChat Store. No wonder for the registered users is exceeding 4 million; monthly GMV is around half million Yuan. GMV of 2016 was exceeding 300 millions; that of 2017 is expecting to achieve 1 billion.
FlowerPlus WeChat Store
Users of FlowerPlus can pre-order flowers for a whole month and delivery is made weekly. Flexible order of 1 month, 3 months or half a year can be fulfilled by a flexible back-end WeChat platform, but not a SaaS model.
3、海豚村 HaiTunCun: a Cross border eCommerce
WeChat Store Platform HaiTunCun WeChat Store
HaiTunCun is the pioneer of cross border eCommerce brand in China. Special and specific requirement for payment and logistic is required by the Law of China. Again, this can only be fulfilled by a tailor-made WeChat store platform but not a SaaS platform.
Advantage of a customized WeChat Store Platform
Tailor-made front- and back-end
Specific visual and brand identity of brands can be fulfilled by a customized platform but not a SaaS model which heavily restricted the customizing and visualizing ability on the WeChat store.
Unlike a ‘fixed’ model from the SaaS platform, a customized WeChat platform offers a maximizing autonomy of the brand design and store function. Also, backend and enterprise system sometimes cause conflicts and mismatch with the SaaS platform which has less freedom.
Mannatech WeChat Store by TMO Group
Ownership of customer data
Big data and consumer insights are the most valuable asset for the brand. Undoubtedly, no one is willing to share with and retain these at the 3rd party platform. Yet, when you have your WeChat Store platform on the 3rd party supplier like Youzan, Weimob or Dodoca, your valuable data is retained at their back-end. This highly restricts your ability and utilization of the data to perform analysis, channeling and promotions.
Independent Payment System
Another pain point for the 3rd party eCommerce platform is the payment or cash detainment. After the customer paid, you are not able to receive the balance immediately. Cash is kept by the 3rd party for a certain period. More than this, platform like Youzan and Dodoca will charge you a certain percentage on your revenue.
So, back to the question: Should brands customize their own WeChat Store or can simply rely on a SaaS platform?
I may advise that individual or small-to-medium enterprise could try the 3rd party SaaS platform to test the market, at the same time to save certain cost. Yet, brands which have special requests on the VI, autonomy and sales and promotional strategy should customize their online eCommerce platform and WeChat Store together with a professional eCommerce solution provider. This can maximize the branding and market opportunity, and finally the sales performance.
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