WeChat Leads the Future of Luxury Social E-commerce with Mini Program

The Mini Program (known as the “app within an app”), has undergone astonishing growth ever since it was released in January 2017. Within a year, a total of $830 million (RMB 5.6 billion) in funding has been raised for e-commerce Mini Programs, according to “The WeChat Mini Program Playbook for E-commerce,” which is the latest report from the Shenzhen-based, e-commerce company Azoya Consulting. In total, there are 2.3 million Mini Programs online today with a DAUs (Daily Active Users) at approximately 230 million, (roughly half of Instagram’s DAU in 2019). And users have quickly gotten hooked on Mini Programs: An average user opens a Mini Program four times a day, even though the apps have only existed for two years. Should luxury brands jump on this opportunity? And how can they use it to sell effectively? We summarize the key points of Azoya’s report below:

How can you find a Mini Program?

E-commerce Mini Program Access Points. Photo: Azoya

Even though WeChat is a closed system (meaning it isn’t able to search the internet, only the WeChat ecosystem), there are as many as 60 different ways to access a Mini Program. What’s noteworthy is that 34 percent of users access them when shared via WeChat friends, which is also what makes everything on WeChat social.

Who is using Mini Programs?

E-commerce Mini Program by gender and age. Photo: Azoya

Users are dominated by women and Chinese millennials: About half of the users are under 30 years of age, which is also a match with the luxury brands’ targeted consumers.

What can you do on a Mini Program?

Gucci’s store lets customers discover, browse, and pay for items all without leaving WeChat. Photo: Azoya

A Mini Program offers more than what a brand’s official Facebook page can. It’s a place where consumers browse products, campaigns, live chat with a customer service representative, quickly check out with WeChat Pay, and more. Unlike the transactional e-commerce site, a Mini Program is a channel for consumers to seek out all relevant information about a brand. If the goal for e-commerce is to sell, then WeChat’s Mini Program is to serve.

What are the benefits of opening a Mini Program for luxury brands?

Mini Program give brands expanded functions to engage users. Photo: Azoya report.

What’s most alluring to luxury brands is the sense of control they have on WeChat. While third-party e-commerce channels like JD.com and Tmall dominate in China, WeChat empowers brands to design their own campaigns, visuals, and product assortments.

Below are different ways luxury brands cater their client base on a WeChat Mini Program:

UGC (User-Generated Content) – YSL Members Club

YSL members club – customer journey. Photo: Azoya

A Mini Program that’s similar to Little Red Book, but for YSL products only. Fans can share their selfies that showcase YSL products and get reward points in return, which can be redeemed for discounts. And if they like a product from the pictures, a customer can buy it directly within WeChat.

Social Gifting – Dior

Dior gift cards – customer journey. Photo: Azoya

Still using the old-fashioned plastic gift cards? On WeChat wallet, there is a separate folder where you can save your e-cards, making it easier to organize, share, and redeem them. Dior created different gift cards for a variety of special occasions where gifters can customize the cover of the e-card to make it special.

Personalization – Longchamp & YSL

Longchamp – customer journey. Photo: Azoya

Don’t have time to customize your handbag? Or want a special one? Longchamp created a Mini Program that allows users to change different parts of their bags to make it their own, including its color, exterior, interior, and patches. Similarly, boyfriends can gift their significant others with special name-inscribed YSL lipstick sets.


DFS Group Hong Kong – customer journey. Photo: Azoya

Shopping at duty-free stores is a must-do activity for Chinese budget tourists. But how to do it hassle-free while getting the best deal is an art form. DFS’s Mini Program is a new travel hack so Chinese tourists visiting Hong Kong can order their products online and pick them up in DFS stores at the airport or downtown.

KOL Selling – gogoboi

gogoboi – customer journey. Photo: Azoya

Who drives sales better with content than KOLs? Gogoboi, with more than 7 million followers on Weibo and whose WeChat posts can exceed 100,000 pageviews on average, now directs eyeballs to buy on his very own Mini Program. His persuasive language and heartfelt recommendations help consumers justify their transactions.

Content Acceleration – Sephora

Sephora – customer journey. Photo: Azoya

Premium beauty retailer Sephora learned that in social e-commerce, content is king. The company focuses on creating editorial content for their WeChat Mini Program, where customers can find products available for purchase. When customers step into Sephora’s store, they can scan the QR code to access this relevant information on WeChat.

Group Buying – Feelunique

Feelunique – Customer Journey. Photo: Azoya

What’s the point of social e-commerce if not to share things? Europe’s largest premium beauty e-tailer, Feelunqiue, leverages the power of sharing on WeChat by hosting a six-day group sale campaign that’s similar to the Groupon model – the more friends that users invite, the cheaper the price will be.

Customer Service – Maybelline

Maybelline – Customer Journey. Photo: Azoya

How can you turn questions from customers into a successful sale? Maybelline demonstrated the capability of AI-powered WeChat customer service (using data to identify common questions) to help them provide quick solutions and recommend products.

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