WeChat has taken a lot of actions lately.

QQ started its alpha test on group chat shelves and live-stream shopping, while WeChat rolled out live-stream functions in official accounts and Mini Programs.

In a low-key manner, WeChat Mini Stores started its alpha test. Retailers can do live-streams and sell products in the stores. This is especially good for self-employed sellers since they also get to open official stores and promote sales on this platform.



The launch of this function also sends the signal to companies outside China that WeChat will continue to develop its social-media-based e-commerce business. The app with its 1.2 billion Daily Active Users once again showed its resolve to leverage private traffic.

Right now, foreign companies cannot register a Mini Store, but they can build Mini Programs as an alternative, which we will explain later in the article.


▲ A WeChat Mini Store


How does the official team describe it?

WeChat Mini Stores are a kind of Mini Programs where operators can do live-stream and sell goods. They require no efforts put into development and application.

That is to say, those companies that don’t have their own Mini Programs can still open Mini Stores as long as they have a corporate-verified official account.Currently, the function is only accessible to alpha test participants who hold business licenses. Individual sellers are expected to get access soon.


▲ Source: Wei Guo Jiang


You can click the Mini Program link below to see if you are included in the alpha test. Right now, Mini Stores haven’t set foot on the foreign market, but we can use Mini Programs to try the new e-commerce model of “community + livestream”.

What are the advantages of Mini Stores?

Three striking features are listed in the sign-up guide of Mini Store: zero registration fee, zero service fee, and live stream. They are extremely attractive to those who don’t want to miss out on the opportunities WeChat traffic could bring.


1.Zero registration fee

In the past, those who sell products on WeChat can only send posts or use third-party platforms. But now, vendors don’t need to spend money on programming, nor do they need to pay any registration fee to WeChat. Just upload a business license, and the vendor will have an official store on WeChat.


2.Zero service fee

WeChat doesn’t charge you any fee for service or maintenance, and even provides you with a one-stop management backend to do basic data management. You need to keep in mind that although using the platform is free of charge, the 0.6% commission fee for WeChat Pay is not exempted. Because WeChat Pay is not usable in other countries, companies outside China are still not able to try the Mini Stores.


3.Live stream

In the pandemic, live stream has been the center of attention for vendors and consumers.

In this context, WeChat has made multiple attempts by launching live stream on Mini Programs and official accounts to help vendors promote sales. But these functions require programing abilities and higher qualifications, thus are inaccessible to many small and medium-sized companies.

But WeChat Mini Stores have minimized the requirements and maximized the services to suit the need of vendors and customers. Although the Mini Stores is still in its infancy and is not enough for some companies to do operations and marketing, for those small-sized vendors who don’t have the ability to do programming, Mini Stores can come in handy.



What can Mini Stores do?


1.Basic functions

Mini Store provide basic functions like goods management, store operations and live stream that entail no development costs on the vendors’ side.



2.User experience

The buyer’s interface is equipped with essential functions to provide a complete shopping experience, including product details, shelf tools and live stream plugins.



WeChat team also said that more functions that can help vendors to develop their e-commerce business are soon to come in addition to the above two aspects. In the future, service providers will also be introduced to upgrade the service and capabilities of Mini Stores.

In general, the functions of Mini Stores resemble those of third-party e-stores in that they all help vendors sell products. The Mini Stores still has a long way to go regarding the limited operation tools and abilities. Only after third-party service providers come in can Mini Store switch into full-speed mode.

As is mentioned before, foreign companies cannot enjoy the benefits brought by Mini Stores yet, but by seeking help from third-party service providers to build stores on Mini Programs, they can still activate the numerous users they have accumulated in the WeChat eco-system.



In other e-commerce platforms, competitive products are recommended on the page, so some buyers may turn to other vendors and make purchase. In Mini Program stores, this is not a problem.

In the Tencent eco-system, Mini Stores meets the basic needs of vendors to sell products online, but the Mini Programs stores developed by third-party service provides have more full-fledged functions to open the market. Companies can build a more sophisticated marketing system.

On the page of a Mini Program store, the name of the store, a brief introduction, open hours, contact, location, and pictures are all displayed. Buyers can also get coupons and make pick-up orders on it.



What’s more, these Mini Program stores can be bound with official accounts. They can be added to the custom menu below the official account interface or embedded into articles. In this way, users who are attracted by official accounts can be converted in Mini Programs. The two channels are seamlessly connected. The buyers may be led to physical stores to enjoy further service.

Besides guiding traffic offline, the Mini Program stores are also good at boosting the rates of retainment, conversion and repurchase. They provide functions like discounts, coupon distribution and membership cards to lure users into offline stores.


1.Cards and offers

Venders of Mini Program stores can easily distribute coupons on the platform that are automatically added to users’ Cards & Offers folder on WeChat. After a Mini Program store is bound with the location of the physical store, the coupons will be displayed whenever the customers are in the vicinity of location.

Membership cards and vouchers are both supported on the Mini Program.



2.Detailed management of VIP members


The Mini Program stores can help vendors retain and convert customers and stimulate them to make repurchases.


A. Points. Users can get points by making consumptions. The points can make the buyers more loyal and turn them into patrons.

B.Discounts. This is another common benefit of membership. After users get a membership card for free, they will enjoy discounts next time they buy. This can attract many users to come again, thereby boosting repurchase rates.


Surely, different companies have their unique needs, so their Mini Programs should be customized. You can take the Mini Program that W-axis Technology made for restaurants as a reference. (新加坡防疫再升级,餐厅禁止堂食!餐饮企业该如何自救?) If you have any questions, you can scan the QR Code below to query information. We will offer personalized plans based on your needs.

Mini Programs, be it Mini Stores or Mini Programs stores, are the key infrastructure that links brands and consumers. They synergize the various scenarios in the WeChat eco-system and forge connections between physical stores and users, thereby independently forming an enclosed circle for marketing.