WeChat is planning to have department stores to set up storefront on its platform. Shenzhen-based department store chain Rainbow (SZ:002419) is its first partner and the first WeChat stores will go live no later than the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival (September 19th), as reported by ebrun, a Chinese e-commerce news service. WeChat plans to open the program to other department stores at the end of October.

It is expected that the WeChat stores can not only display or even sell goods from department stores, but also sell membership cards or gift cards. Consumers can buy goods directly or download e-coupons there. WeChat will possibly take transaction-based commissions.

Within WeChat there has been Micro-life, launched in mid-2012, that helps offline merchants issue virtual membership cards, push e-coupons and manage consumers. Since the latest version of WeChat has enabled mobile payments, it is estimated that retailers would sell goods there before long. It’s possible the WeChat stores will be integrated into Micro-life, as reported.

A small number of merchants like McDonald’s have tried out selling  goods or services directly through WeChat. It seems Alibaba who has been dominating the online retail market felt threatened that later forbid sharing Taobao goods directly to WeChat.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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