What Are WeChat Miniprograms?

June 22, 2021
June 22, 2021 Liang Zitong

What Are WeChat Miniprograms?.

Of course you have heard of WeChat, but do you understand Mini Programs? Perhaps you have heard them mentioned and you may have some idea about what they are, but you are not clear on exactly what it means or how they are used.

WeChat Mini Programs are applications that exist within the WeChat ecosystem. They are written in WeChat’s own code, such as WHTML and WXSS. This is like a simplified version of an iOS or Android App that exists entirely within WeChat, rather than being installed on your phone.

Mini Programs are easy to use, easy to make and allow WeChat users to access applications without leaving WeChat. Currently, with over 1 million Wechat Mini Programs and 400 million daily active users, Mini Programs are ways to do many daily tasks in China. From taking public transportation to shopping online, Mini Programs cover a wide range of public and private services and address the needs of hundreds of millions of WeChat users every day.

Examples of WeChat Miniprograms

E-Commerce

 

E-Commerce has become a part of our daily lives, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak. Mini Programs provide an easy way for users to shop within the WeChat platform. WeChat brings together messaging, social networking and content consumption. Users who browse content such as official account articles or see videos featuring fashion, they can easily use mini programs to seamlessly place orders for the products they see within WeChat Accounts.

In the past three years, Mini Programs have been launched empowering companies from large e-commerce platform giants to small and medium-sized brand merchants to boost their product sales and access new customers. In 2019, the total turnover of E-Commerce Mini Programs reached 1.2 trillion yuan (US$187bn), an increase of 100% over the total turnover of 600 billion yuan in 2018. In the first half of 2020, the cumulative turnover of the shopping mall and department store Mini Programs increased by 670%. In recent years, the operations and marketing methods retailers are using have diversified. Businesses can use WeChat video accounts and official accounts to create an overlapping content ecosystem to drive users to their Mini Programs and build a loyal customer base.

Dining & Food Delivery 

WeChat Mini Programs are not only changing the way people shop, but they are also changing the way people order food, both in restaurants and for takeaway. Mini Programs make food ordering more convenient and faster for customers. Companies like Elema and Meituan offer takeaway from countless directly from their WeChat Mini Programs much in the same way that “Uber Eats” offers, making takeaway and delivery literally available at the user’s fingertips.  Customers at restaurants can order food through WeChat scan codes, order takeaways, and make restaurant reservations online by using third party or branded restaurant Mini Programs. This also is a benefit to F&B businesses saving labor costs and helping them acquire new customers online.

Mini Programs also allow merchants to understand their own customer portraits better. Businesses are able to gather and analyze user data.  They are also able to manage membership and adjust menus to tweak their programs and offerings based on the data and can alert their members with special offers or campaigns.

The Advantages of MiniPrograms

1. Cost Reduction
Mini Programs are typically just 10MB in size and require significantly less investment to develop as compared to a native App. Mini Programs also share many similarities to Web Apps, making them easier and faster to get started. Since they’re all run through WeChat, there’s also no need to produce iOS and Android versions, as WeChat is available on both platforms. There are also many third-party tools on the market that provide merchants with tools to develop their own Mini Programs, such as Youzan, Weimob, etc.

2. Easy to Promote
WeChat allows users to find Mini Programs within 5 miles. This boosts the ability of local businesses to get exposure to potential customers in their area. Retailers can easily guide physical customers to scan their QR code in WeChat which will guide them to their Mini Program for special promotions and offers. Additionally, Mini Programs can be shared by users to other people in their network, creating a kind of viral promotion. For example, E-Commerce businesses can use coupons to encourage customers to invite their friends to visit the Mini Program. The Mini Program will also sit in a list on the Discover page in WeChat, encouraging users to revisit the program and increase customer Retention.

3. WeChat Ecosystem
Currently, over 1 billion people use WeChat every day. That is more than three times the entire population of the US. WeChat is not simply a chatting app, like WhatApp, but is actually much much more. Chatting, sharing, researching, buying, selling, referring… All of these happen inside one single app – WeChat. Nearly every person in China uses WeChat Pay to do everything from paying their water bills to buying their daily groceries, not to mention paying for dinner. The power of WeChat Mini Programs comes from this integrated system. For example, one trend of e-commerce in China is combining Official Accounts and Mini Programs to enhance selling. The official accounts provide high-quality content for shopping guides, and the Mini Programs are responsible for transactions and providing related services. This is the Official Account + Mini Program model. For the same advertisement link, there are usually four ways to direct using Official Account content: inserting external links, reading the original text, end-of-text advertisements, and Mini-Program advertisements. The opening rate of the Mini Program is 20 times more than the opening rate of the Reading More option at the end of the article.

The The Drawbacks of Mini Programs

1. Limited Functionality
Mini programs are not suitable for heavy workloads. The small size of a Mini Program makes it suitable for use as a small utility tool only. Mini Programs are less effective compared to native applications in terms of personalized functions, interaction, performance optimization for the operating system, and support for offline data. Therefore, they are probably not ideal for anything that requires serious computing power, such as photo editing or large games.

2. Quality Control
There is no well-developed platform like the Apple App Store to classify, rank, and score Mini Programs to ensure the quality of the Mini Programs. A good App Store is a guarantee for the quality of applications, and it can encourage the developers to optimize the application and develop more user-friendly programs.

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