WeChat decided to take the lead in e-commerce and search optimization

Tingyi Chen New WeChat features

WeChat released some impressive result during the WeChat Open Class last week:

  • WeChat Mini Program’s daily active users reached 300 million
  • 800 billion RMB of transactions happened via WeChat Mini program in 2019
  • WeChat launched Mini Program notice subscription template to replace template messages
  • WeChat is planning to improve the user experience for accessing “short content” 
  • WeChat will support the brands’ official Mini Program stores by providing official store verification service, logistic plug-ins, and 3rd-party order security services
  • Launch of WeChat SEO guide and will improve long-tail search result
  • WeChat launched WeChat Mini-Program Framework (WMPF) enabling hardware devices to run Mini Programs outside of WeChat  
WeChat Open Class Pro 2020 in Guangzhou

WeChat backed Mini Program Store

WeChat never got close to Alibaba in terms of e-commerce sales, but this will change this year.

800 billion RMB transactions happened via WeChat Mini Programs in 2019, a 160% year-over-year increase.

As a comparison, this is about 50% of the GMV of JD.com in 2018. WeChat became a real e-commerce channel.

August Du, the speaker of WeChat Open Class, points out the weaknesses of WeChat store shopping experience:

  • Lack of customer protection for fake products
  • Hard to check order’s shipping status
  • No 3rd party to reassure the service to solve any dispute

But WeChat finally announced big steps forward to increase customer trust in WeChat Mini Program stores:

  • Brand verification: WeChat will provide a verification service for WeChat Mini Program stores. The verified stores will feature an “official” sign
  • Official Mini Program stores will have a higher search ranking
  • WeChat will provide a logistic plugin to help with shipping status tracking
  • WeChat will offer official support for order disputes and process customer complains

While WeChat store management and development will still remain independent, the additional support will improve consumers’ shopping experience. It will especially benefit brands that are new to the Mini Program store ecosystem.

WeChat search optimization

“Search should be the main source of traffic for WeChat Mini Programs”

Allen Zhang at WeChat Open Class 2019

WeChat Official Accounts are usually the top source of traffic for WeChat Mini Programs. But Allen Zhang, the founder of WeChat, wants to increase the traffic from search by optimizing search results. Areas to optimize include:

  • A better display of the content of Mini Program pages on search results
  • Brands can have a higher search ranking
  • The search results will be optimized by location, content, social circle (Mini Programs used by more contacts will have a higher ranking)
  • Enable search results to lead to a specific page within a Mini Program
  • Long-tail search result improvements

WeChat published a guide for Mini Program SEO:

  • Setup URLs for each page of a Mini Progam so that the search can direct to a specific page
  • User WeChat navigator plug-in instead of API
  • Only ask the user to log in via WeChat when necessary (for example, alow users to view content and comments anonymously)
  • Follow this sitemap to guide WeChat search crawlers. Make sure to hide irrelevant information
  • Setting up a clear title and relevant cover picture for each page

Currently, WeChat search results are still far from perfect. For example, if you search for “how to boil an egg”, WeChat Search is not able to return the correct Mini Program to answer your question. This is exactly the kind of long-tail search queries that WeChat is trying to improve. In fact, for some common key works such as weather, the search has already been optimized.

Brands can already build a custom search page via the Official Account backend’s “微信搜一搜” feature. For example, a perfect diary’s search result looks like this:

However, for now, only large brands with high search traffic can benefit from this privilege. In order to set up this kind of search page, brands need to have over 800 daily clicks, run a promotion campaign on WeChat search with over 300k daily impressions and be verified with a trademark. More instruction for the WeChat brand search page can be found here. Such a high barrier of entry will prevent most brands from optimizing their search page.

While WeChat is pushing hard to improve the search experience, the team is also extremely cautious to limit the amount of commercial content. This conflict between monetization and user experience has always been at the center of the debate for every small step WeChat takes.

Short content display

WeChat is losing traffic to Douyin for a lack of short-video content.

Allen Zhang would like to launch a new “short content” display to improve the user experience. Nothing has been disclosed about which short-format content will be available on WeChat, in the future.

Last year, WeChat launched an Instagram Story-like video feature, encouraging users to share videos that last for 24 hours. This was seen as a step for WeChat to encourage more video content creation. But as of today, very few users are leveraging this feature.

WeChat Work

WeChat Work, Tencent’s office communication platform, released new features last week: the ability for employees to share on WeChat Moment, video conference, and larger WeChat groups.

Compared to leading office communication tools such as WeTool, WeChat Work still lacks many essential features for message automation and marketing. But WeChat Work has one major advantage: developers and companies are building 3rd party WeChat Work Apps to enrich the user experience.

For example, Qingcheng Tech built a WeChat Work App enabling employees to use a company assigned fitness card to different gyms.

This growing ecosystem of Apps is becoming a strong incentive for companies to start using WeChat Work.

WeChat Mini Program operating on hardware devices

WeChat launched a WeChat Mini-Program Framework (WMPF) that enables Mini Program to operate on hardware, outside of the WeChat environment.

Developers could apply for access to the WMPF via this link.

For now, the framework only supports the Android system. For developers, if they use WMPF, it also means limiting the payment experience to WeChat Pay. The biggest advantage is that user data can be synchronized with WeChat data.


WeChat continues to improve the user experience of Mini Program stores, search results, and workplace communication.

Although Tencent is facing intense pressure from ByteDance, it is still growing and adapting by consolidating its ecosystem.

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