WeChat releases new logistics API: should you be impressed?

Thomas Graziani New WeChat features

A few days ago, WeChat announced the release of a new logistics API enabling to connect WeChat Mini-programs with 3rd party logistics providers.

The solution has already been implemented by companies such as the American skincare brand Kiehl’s (part of L’Oréal group) and is now being made available to the whole public.

But is it any good?

WeChat new logistics API

The new WeChat Logistics API enables developers to create logistic orders with major Chinese logistical providers. Merchants can:

  • Create a new shipping order with their logistic provider via the WeChat API
  • Track the order in real-time via the WeChat API or a PC tool provided by WeChat
  • The end users get easy access to the shipping information via WeChat

Users receive notifications from a “Service notification” (服务通知) folder informing them of their delivery’s status.

 

What are the benefits of the WeChat logistics API?

WeChat claims that this new API leads to several benefits:

  • Easily integrate merchants system with logistics providers
  • Enable convenient integration to multiple logistics providers
  • Provides a centralized way for users to get notifications and shipment information

Is WeChat Logistic solution bringing anything new?

You might ask: you were always able to track your orders delivery, no matter the platform you were ordering from.

So what’s new here? The answer is: not much.

In fact, a lot of existing logistic API’s such as Kuaidi100 already offer integration with multiple logistic providers through a centralized API.

And of course, mini-programs such as the one of JD.com have long been integrating such data directly within the WeChat Mini-program interface.

WalktheChat also integrated its own tracking system inside its Mini-program, supporting shipping codes from more than 1,000 carriers.

Moreover, WeChat Mini-programs already enable to message users with logistic notifications via their “template message” features.

The drawbacks of WeChat Logistics solution

WeChat Logistics API therefore doesn’t provide much compared to already existing solutions.

But things get worse, has it also comes with several drawbacks.

Limited to WeChat

The main drawback of the WeChat logistics API is of course, that it only works within WeChat. The creation of a new order requires the “OpenId” of the WeChat user (an ID obtained via WeChat log-in), so any order happening outside WeChat can’t leverage the API.

This is problematic as, of course, most vendors don’t use WeChat Mini-programs as their only channel. They will be interested in using one single shipping API across their channels (and as we mentioned, there are already API’s in the market offering this service)

A limited number of logistics providers

The WeChat Logistics system interfaces with 9 logistic providers so far: 百世快递 (BEST), 中国邮政速递物流 (EMS), 承诺达特快 (OTP), 品骏快递 (PJ), 顺丰速运 (SF), 圆通速递 (YTO), 韵达快递 (YUNDA), 中通快递 (ZTO), 德邦快递 (DB).

This can seem like a lot, but it covers a tiny proportion of the fragmented shipping market. In comparison, Kuaidi100 API interfaces with more than 1,000 shipping providers.

So who is it good for?

The WeChat Logistics API might be good for small businesses who want to focus solely on WeChat Mini-programs for online sales and are looking for a quick solution for shipping integration.

However larger brands with multi-channel approach will likely want to directly integrate with a provider that will work across channels, or directly with their shipping provider’s API.

Conclusion

The WeChat Logistics API is an interesting step of WeChat within the more “downstream” side of its e-commerce ecosystem.

However, the solution is a latecomer in an already mature and competitive market. The WeChat API is taking a very… WeChat-centered approach. It is therefore unlikely to replace mature cross-platform solutions which have already gained significant market share.

Are you a developer? Here is a link to the WeChat Logistics API documentation.

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