Emerging Social Commerce

As social commerce is becoming a norm in China, most of the social media platforms are struggling to find a way to capture their users as much as possible. Mini-programs, initially invented by Wechat, are lightweight alternatives to apps that run inside existing applications on a user’s mobile phone. More and more tech giants started to offer their mini-program based on their differentiated values.

5Cs of Social Commerce

There are at least 10 Tech Giants released their mini-programs to snatch the mini-program market share with the differentiating features and user base. These super platforms not only bring traffic to the products in its ecosystem, but also opens up and empowers other products and individual entrepreneurs on their platforms. This win-win relationship provides much more growth opportunities for both parties. With the advantage of hyper traffic, super APPs uses mini-programs to retain users and recreate user value, while also creating more advertising revenue.

Mini program evalution

For example, Meituan Take-away effectively acquires more new users through mini-programs on both Baidu and WeChat platforms. The low level of user overlap forming an effective complement with APP

Differentiation for BATB

01 TENCENT – WeChat Mini-program

  • Keywords: social commerce, head of mini-program industry, mature ecosystem, O2O
  • Recommended Enterprise: Medium-to-large corporation, large organic traffic, high marketing budget

In the era of the Internet, traffic is fundamental to survival. As the head player of social media, Tencent ecosystem includes more than 1 billion active users from WeChat and more than 800 million MAU on QQ.

tencent massive ecosystem

Mini-program backed by WeChat traffic bonuses has also become an indisputable place for companies and brands. With the help of WeChat’s own strong social attributes, it helps mini-program owners to deeply explore the user value. As a leader in the field of mini-programs, the WeChat ecosystem is relatively mature, and users can quickly use the mini-program to achieve traffic conversion. At the same time, the characteristics of decentralization allow entrepreneurs to get out of the shadow of the huge brands and emerge in the tug of war for traffic.

02 ALIBABA – Alipay MP

  • Keywords: eCommerce, payment, finance, public service
  • Recommended Enterprise: Finance industry, service providers

If “social” is the core of WeChat mini-program to capture the market, then “commercial” is the trump card of Alipay mini-program. As a pioneer in online payment, Alipay’s transaction security attributes and business application capabilities have become two major traits that attract enterprise, and Alipay Mini-programs have therefore become a weapon to harvest offline traffic.

Industry distribution of the TOP 30 MAU BAT MP

Most of the popular Alipay Mini-programs’ is focusing on life services and commerce can create payment scenarios offline and complete service closed loops. Industries such as government affairs, lifestyle and services are highly compatible with the Alipay Mini-programs ecosystem.

03 BAIDU – MP open-source league

  • Keywords: Search, information feed, open-source, B2B
  • Recommended Enterprise: Servicing industry, companies that have a sustainable presence in the respective market

As an up-and-coming star, the Baidu Mini-programs has positioned itself to be an open-source platform at the beginning of the game. The monthly activity of Baidu Mini-programs open-source league has exceeded 300 million after 2 years into operation. It has actualised the openness of the Mini-programs on its ecosystem.

Developers making a Baidu Mini-programs can not only be used on Baidu products but also ported to other 24 member apps, such as iQiyi and 58 Tongcheng, etc. 9 of the open-source league have finished integration with the Baidu mini-program with their own native Apps, while 15 of them are still in progress.

Baidu MP expension

Baidu mini-program platform is truly fulfilling its slogan of “one-time development, multi-platform usage”. By breaking traffic barriers, the member apps of the open-source platform are able to harvest most of the traffics seamlessly.

Besides, based on the search characteristics of the main product, the Baidu Mini-programs can accurately cover the target user, provide users with precise information and services through the Mini-programs. Baidu mini-program supports the shortest journey to meet the user’s search needs, and achieve user retention by improving the overall service efficiency.

04 BYTEDANCE – Douyin MP

  • Keywords: Short video, live-commerce, watch-it-buy-it
  • Recommended Enterprise: High investment for the creative content, clear user positioning

Douyin is backed by 320 million daily active users (DAU) and has a huge traffic base. Also, it has always been well-known for its sophisticated content-based recommendation feed which still attracts the attention of the majority of users. And these characteristics of the platforms set up the foundation for ensuring the distribution of the mini-program and the efficiency of the conversion rate.

Douyin has strong e-commerce intergration to their own system & Taobao

Toutiao is briefly mentioned in the graph. The key product for Bytedance is Douyin where Toutiao is mainly sharing the same development platform with Douyin. So it is compatible between the two platforms.

Omni-Channel Mini-program

Past year data already showed a strong interest in brands to shift the focus of marketing investment from PC to mobile platforms. This trend has been intensified because of the Coronavirus pandemic across the globe. In the 2020 Q1, people were forced to stay at home while the sales shot up for mobile eCommerce comparing to the traditional PC sales

China Digital Spend Market Share 2015-2019

With the rising number of players in the mini-program and increasing focus in the social commerce opportunity, there is an obvious trend for companies to set up multiple mini-programs across the platforms.

There is a trend for the omnichannel mini-programs. When enterprises started to set up multiple mini-programs on different platforms while offering different content or products to suit the respective characteristics of the platforms.

More platforms to manage will gradually increase the burden on the cost of operation and logistics. A uniform backend for omnichannel mini-programs will become the future trends for brands and companies. A single backend system and SaaS system to manage the orders and contents in different platforms can ultimately help to free up the tedious operation process and cost.


WPP – Report Content Conversation Commerce, Nov 2019
WalktheChat – Social media & E-commerce strategy for China, April 2020