WeChat is a platform which generates a lot of trafic and engagement from its users. Today, it has more than 938 million users, and half of them would be spending more than 90 minutes a day on the app. In this environment, Tencent created the mini programs. You have probably heard of them, since the firm communicated a lot since its launch last January.
What are mini programs ?
Launched on January 9th, mini programs are apps within WeChat, meaning that you can open it and access services without downloading or installing anything. WeChat’s goal is to keep the user in its app as much as possible.
There are many ways to get it:
The most innovative one is the nearby function, which shows the mini programs available around you according to your location.
The feature brings several benefits to the user. Because it’s a lightweight version of a native app, it loads faster, uses less storage space, and is more convenient in term of user experience.
Which services do they provide ?
Order food, book movie ticket, do online shopping, order a taxi, do bike sharing… Mini programs have an interesting potential for any kind of businesses, because they shorten the gap between online and offline.
Here are some examples:
Metro map, bus hours, taxis, public toilets close by, travel agency, task manager…
Like Xiaomi or JD website, you can find all their products and buy it online through the feature.
The Peninsula Hotel Beijing provides a platform to buy their famous mooncakes, or offer special spa deals.
McDonalds and KFC offer coupons and implement a loyalty program through their mini program. Starbucks and Dior follow the same gifting cards mechanism: sending a gift card to friends who can afterwards go to the shop to get the present.
Longchamp was the first luxury brand to launch its mini program. The brand actually created two:
- “ParisianING”, aimed to recommend places which introduce Parisian lifestyle like French bakeries, art galleries, and Longchamp stores nearby.
- “Pliage bag” to customize your bag and buy it directly from there.
Swarovski also launched its mini program for Mother’s Day, giving the users the chance to buy its “brilliant” collection.
Simple “store mini program”
Even if you’re not a big brand, you can create your store business card. This is very innovative because it’s combined with the “Nearby” feature, so you can get more visibility from the users passing by your store. Cafés, bars, restaurants, shops, convenience shops, hotels, SPA, manicures, fitness clubs… they all display basic information about their location, their operating hours, address and show some photos.
Is it a success already ?
Since January, the users have been mostly pioneers. However, we have observed a growth on daily active users since April. And although mini programs are a good alternative to native apps or, in WeChat ecosystem, to official accounts, they are still facing some challenges:
- Cost: it’s not cheaper to develop a mini program than a H5 page
- Relation with the user: a mini program cannot push notifications to its users, whereas official accounts can, so it’s more difficult to build a personalized relationship with them
- Level of awareness still pretty low: only 20.4% of WeChat users have heard and used it according to the Tencent Penguin Intelligence Survey Platform
- Payment method: only WeChat is supported
Mini programs’ goal is to try to shorten the gap between online and offline by providing a specific service at a specific time, in a lightweight version, to improve the buying experience.
So before creating a mini program, make sure to define exactly what you want your mini program to be and which service it will deliver.