The amount of goods sold on digital storefronts accessed via instant messaging app WeChat doubled in 2020 as the mega social platform becomes an increasingly popular entry point for online shopping in China.
Why it matters: WeChat parent company Tencent is a rising challenger for the sector’s biggest players, including Alibaba, JD.com, and Pinduoduo.
- Mini programs are an important growth driver for apps, functioning as an entry point for Chinese mobile users to access online services, according to a Quest Mobile report published in July.
- The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated consumer adoption of e-commerce on WeChat and powered growth, as confined shoppers spent more time browsing and shopping on the app.
Details: The gross merchandise value (GMV) of WeChat mini-program commodity transactions doubled in 2020, the company announced Tuesday at its 2021 Weixin Open Class PRO conference held in Guangzhou.
- GMV booked through the “lightweight” apps on the chatting platform reached around RMB 1.6 trillion ($247 billion) in 2020 based on the RMB 800 billion GMV figure the company disclosed for 2019.
- In comparison, Pinduoduo posted RMB 1.46 trillion GMV for the 12-month period ended Sept. 30, 2020. WeChat mini program GMV includes sales from lightweight apps belonging to other platforms including Pinduoduo.
- Daily active users for WeChat mini programs increased by a third to 400 million in 2020 from 300 million in 2019, out of WeChat’s massive pool of 1.2 billion monthly active users.
- There were 731 million annual active buyers on Pinduoduo as of end-September, and 757 million on Alibaba platforms as of June.
- Fast-moving consumer goods and fashion brands were among the platform’s categories that recorded the most rapid growth, with GMV surging from two- to five-fold.
- Per user, the number of mini programs used rose 25% and the average transaction value increased 67% year on year in 2020, according to the company.
- WeChat Search, the app’s built-in search function, saw its monthly active users exceed 500 million for the first time.
- WeCom, WeChat’s enterprise and work communication tool, serves more than 5.5 million organizations and has more than 130 million active users.
- The company is planning more integration this year between official accounts, mini programs, and its short video feature, Channels.
Context: First introduced in 2017, mini programs have become ubiquitous on many of China’s biggest apps, including Tencent’s QQ, Baidu, Meituan, Alibaba’s Alipay, and Taobao, as well as Bytedance’s Jinri Toutiao and Douyin.