Micro-shop Weidian (微店) is rumored to be going through some rough patches, according to a 36Kr report. Weidian is the biggest independent platform that helps merchants create WeChat shops for free.
“In the first half of 2017, Weidian still had over 1200 employees, but over the course of the following 6 months, more than 300 members of staff had left the company,” said a source close to the matter. The source also said that two founding partners have also left the company earlier this year. Weidian has not confirmed the report.
WeChat e-commerce ecosystem and social e-commerce are flourishing in China, but it is also an increasingly competitive space. As one of the early comers to the micro-shop scene, Weidian seems to be having some trouble keeping up with the pace of change.
In 2013, a number of mobile shopping startups emerged to capitalize on the then-nascent market. Weidian was one of the first to make it big. The Weidian mobile shop marketplace app was launched by Beijing-based mobile shopping software Koudai Shopping (口袋购物) in early 2014.
The platform provides APIs for merchants and developers to build features for their mobile stores. It experienced explosive growth soon after its launch. In the first 9 months, it attracted over 12 million sellers and reportedly fetched 15 billion in sales. In 2014, Tencent led a $145 million funding round in Koudai Shopping.
But now the winds seem to be blowing in favor of Pinduoduo (拼多多), Yunji (云集), and other emerging e-commerce mini-programs that are innovating and creating new ways to drive traffic.