In recent years, prominent changes are happening in China’s retailing industry, which are marked by the rise of e-commerce and the fall of physical stores. The traditional retailing business is therefore severely challenged and drawing customers has become a headache. In the past, retailers win customers by promoting their products, but now, consumers’ mindsets are much different. They take pride in their purchases and are more prudent about what they buy, as well as how and where they do it.
The reviewing system in Taobao, food delivery services and purchasing agents can make consumers feel in charge and respected. To do this, retailers need to attract customers through both online and offline channels. Mini Programs emerged against this backdrop and their synergy with the retailing business has been well recognized.
一、Mini Programs Give Retailers A Leg-Up
1. Mini Programs form closed traffic loops
In the past, retailers sell products in centralized malls where customers go and find what they want. The malls are like kingdoms of brands that are managed in a top-down manner and are constantly expanding. Retailers provide goods to customers based on the data and information acquired from the kingdoms. Today, decentralized social e-commerce marks the new era of e-commerce, which means customers stay where they are and goods go to them. Tencent acutely sensed the needs of consumers and retailers and pooled these demands into WeChat. Retailers offer what consumers need in large quantity and consumers buy them online. On WeChat, consumers can find out about goods nearby based on their locations. After clicking on the products, consumers are directed to the Mini Programs of the retailers and make purchases. Retailers can later lure them into buying again by leveraging fission activities on Mini Programs.
2. Mini Programs forge the full process
In addition to connecting online and offline scenarios, Mini Programs also create the full process of “traffic, customer acquirement, fission and recall”. Meanwhile, WeChat Mini Programs help companies take up digital operations by connecting systems like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
For retailers with physical stores, breaking the restrictions of traffic and upgrading into social e-commerce operators with full process are top priorities, instead of seeking rapid growth. WeChat Mini Programs are the best launchpads for retailers to sustain their ability to convert customers, lift business value and increase repurchase rates of their products.
二、Cases of “Mini Program + Retailer” Combination
1. Social e-commerce: Jing Xi WeChat Mini Program
Three years after its emergence, Pinduoduo went public. During this time, Suning and Taobao started their social e-commerce business. Last year, JD finally began its attempt in the social e-commerce arena and spread its business to lower-tiered cities, but it took its time. In 2016, JD launched the project with Pingou, which claims to be a social e-commerce platform that sells cheap products with high quality. Last year, JD rolled out Jing Xi. The Mini Program doesn’t treat WeChat merely as a way to obtain traffic: it tries to complement JD, the main portal, by taking clear aim at users in lower-tiered cities, achieving full process, selling quality products with lower prices and utilizing varied functions on social network.
Last year, Jing Xi successfully pitched in on the Double-11 shopping festival and impressed others with the charm of WeChat Mini Programs. In less than an hour, 1 million orders were made on the applet; new users of Jing Xi took up 42% of all the users that signed up on JD that day; 74% of new users that joined Jing Xi that day were from third-tiered cities and below. These data demonstrate the abilities of the Mini Program to draw users and tap lower-tiered markets. The secrets behind the success are not hard to identify.
100 million popular products at 1 RMB
Consumers have long been tired of the complicated discount rules in the shopping festival and have been calling for simpler ones. Jing Xi catered to the need. In the festival last year, Jing Xi, along with retailers, gave generous discounts to the customers. Factories directly provided goods and Jing Xi offered subsidies. As a result, 100 million products sold at RMB 1 were prepared. This was a trump card in the price war and helped the platform attract huge numbers of new users from lower-tiered cities.
Group-buying was another reason why Jing Xi quickly acquired so many users. A large number of goods on the applet sold at RMB 1 or 9.9 were exclusive to new users or group buyers. To get the discounts, users would invite people they know to sign up on the applet as well. Such fission effect made the new users even more valuable.Taking advantage of the full process owned by JD, Jing Xi takes precise aim at consumers in lower-tiered cities and meets their demand for quality. It spearheaded the mission to upgrade e-commerce retailers and delivered real benefits to consumers.
2. Channel providers: Walmart & Si Yuan Quan Yuan Tea
From e-commerce to omni-channel, the retailing giant has never stopped its exploration. It joined JD Daojia and started cooperation with Dada, a crowd sourcing logistics company, in 2016, which enabled it to deliver the goods directly to the customers. It also cooperated with distributors and realized the first “cloud warehouse” that integrates functions of storage and distribution. Thus, Walmart stores serve as pre-warehouses for other retailers.Last June, Walmart and Tencent established in-depth strategic partnership in retailing. Seeking to upgrade retailing scenarios, they released a Mini Program, “Walmart Scan and Pay”, thus saving customers the trouble to wait in line for checkout. In less than 5 months, its users reached 10 million. The applet can connect the huge offline traffic in the hands of Walmart and lay the foundation to provide customers with tailored shopping experience in the future.
The applet and the cloud warehouse combine online and offline scenarios and upgrade Walmart’s digital operation. By collecting and analyzing data, Walmart can know more about their customers, optimize recommendations and improve inventory management, which bring more possibilities for its future.
Si Yuan Quan Yuan Tea：
Giants like Walmart are not the only companies that need WeChat Mini Programs to help with their transformation: small and medium enterprises also need them to forge closed traffic loops. With the help of W-axis Technology, Si Yuan Quan Yuan Tea built its own Mini Program that has enough space to display its products. Customers can know about products on sale, make orders and enjoy better shopping experience. Personal shoppers in physical stores can draw traffic online, which heightens the chance of repurchase.
3. Clothing brands: WeMall by Bestseller
As one of the first garment giants to embrace digitalization, Bestseller makes full use of social media with a “personal shopper + WeChat Mini Program” model. Personal shoppers in physical stores would add customers on WeChat and have one-on-one conversations with them to answer their questions. WeMall is a social e-commerce applet with personal shoppers at its center. It transcends space and time in the retailing industry and makes employees available to customers 24/7. After knowing more about the customers, personal shoppers can help customers create looks and recommend products based on their features.
The impact of Mini Programs on the retailing market is no longer limited to enclosed traffic loops. Instead, they have ushered in a new era of digitalization. Leading merchants, multinational brands and retailing giants can utilize what Tencent has provided to make top-level designs. By taking Mini Programs as the launchpad, they are in a good position to see their performance skyrocket. As for small and medium enterprises, they can build customers management systems with Mini Programs to achieve digitalization. It can be said that the Mini Program is the shortcut towards new retailing for small and medium enterprises and long-tail merchants.