China’s food delivery and lifestyle service giant Meituan has introduced mini programs, allowing users to access various services without leaving the app, Chinese media reported Tuesday.
Why it matters: Meituan’s adoption of mini programs, lightweight applications with a diverse range of functions accessible from within its app, is relatively late in the game. However, mini-programs and similar applications are a key, must-have feature for mainstream apps.
- Native mini-programs will help Meituan keep its 422 million users and 5.9 million merchants on its platform rather than navigating to other apps, such as WeChat, for certain tasks.
- First pioneered by WeChat in 2017, mini-programs have been adopted by leading Chinese super apps, including Tencent’s QQ, Baidu, Alibaba’s Alipay, and Taobao, as well as Bytedance’s Jinri Toutiao and Douyin.
- WeChat mini-programs have become a major source of traffic for many services in China with more than 2.3 million apps servicing upwards of 681 million active users in April this year, QuestMobile data showed.
Details: Meituan is piloting its mini-program feature with popular service categories, including tools like weather service Moji Weather and games.
- Meituan has placed its mini-programs in a less obvious place in the app, differing from WeChat, which features them prominently.
- Meituan mini-programs can be shared externally only to WeChat at present.
- With only a few mini-programs launched, functionality is relatively limited.
Context: Tech companies are attaching more strategic importance to mini-programs as the features become popular among users.
- Ant Financial fully integrated Alipay’s mini-program feature with microblogging platform Sina Weibo in September.
- The number of WeChat mini-programs with more than 1 million active users doubled annually to 883 in the first half of this year, according to a report from QuestMobile.
- The country’s more than 800 million netizens and the move toward digitalization are fueling the rise of mini-programs.