Fighting Alibaba on e-commerce is a tough struggle, but Tencent’s WeChat is clearly delivering on improving its shopping environment, even when it does not beat Alibaba, says Tencent watcher Matthew Brennan to TechNode.
[T]he latest update seems to fit with Tencent’s aim to make mini-programs easy to use. It’s “very much in line with what they said they would do,” says Matthew Brennan, co-founder of China Channel.
“The whole mini-program initiative is about helping startups, helping more businesses,” Brennan told TechNode. That applies to e-commerce as well. Just a few years ago, WeChat “wasn’t a very natural environment” for online shoppers, said Brennan. Now the whole in-app retail experience has become much smoother thanks to pushes from Tencent.
Brennan doesn’t see the company’s e-commerce initiative as a direct competitor to Alibaba. Instead, like the “runaway hit” platform Pinduoduo, WeChat is finding new models “to let social e-commerce flourish.”
And fast-growing mini-programs, launched in January 2017, happen to be a convenient tool for alternative means for growth. As of the second quarter of 2018, Tencent reported that WeChat hosted over 1 million mini-programs on its platform, a 72% jump from the same period in 2017. Total users reached 600 million, with close to one half accessing them four to six times a day.
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