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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Mobile Payments & Social Media Commerce in China

Social media was intended to be a communication platform, connecting a massive number of global internet users. But as years went by, evolution began to take place, as social media started to turn into a key cog for advertising agencies. You’ve seen tons of brands’ official accounts on Facebook and Instagram, and you’ve surely seen their direct advertisement posts. What we’re seeing happen is social media taking on another identity, that of an e-commerce platform.

It’s not surprising that different forms of social media are gradually turning into supporting platforms for online shopping. Not only because sellers are advertising their products on social media, hoping to get a better exposure and a larger market, but more importantly because 90% of shoppers often ask for purchasing decision by asking their peers through social media and 74% of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchasing decisions.

Although above stats were concluded from a research conducted in the West, this phenomenon also applies in China. Most of China’s top mobile apps have the “share to social media” button, mainly to WeChat – China’s most widely used messaging app. From the Taobao app, you can easily send an item link to your WeChat friend. Sharing a restaurants info has also been made easy as Dianping (China’s version of Yelp) also has the “share to WeChat friends” feature. We’ve also seen that it’s widely common for Chinese to ask for their friend’s opinion through WeChat’s Moments feature, a timeline of photos and thoughts sharing platform.

This timeline feature is also widely used by marketers (and personal daigous) by asking users to share and repost their promotion banners on their WeChat Moments. Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) is also another social media outlet that acts as advertising platform. Various verified accounts with business scope ranging from clothing brands, education apps, hotels, food & liquor to department stores would post pictures of their goods with a shopping link tagged on their post while at the same time running contests to get their followers active.

According to iResearch, purely in Q1 2015, China’s mobile shopping amounted to 362.34 billion Yuan (about US$ 57 billion), with a growth rate of 168.3%. It’s not surprising that China stands firm as the world’s largest mobile e-shopper. Aside from its’ enormous population of 1.4 billion people, it’s mostly because China’s social media platforms have developed user-friendly social media payment system, which is why it is warmly welcomed and widely used.

Source: TMO Group‘s Market – Overview Mobile Commerce

For instance, with WeChat Wallet you could do peer to peer transfer, pay utilities fees, mobile top-up, purchase movie tickets, the list goes on. Even cooler, once you link your bank account with WeChat Wallet, you can click on the “Quick Pay” button, giving you a randomly generated barcode and QR Code. You can easily let a cashier scan either codes and your payment is settled. What an escape from the time consuming exchange of physical currency!

All of the signs above point to social media only continuing to gain momentum when it comes to e-commerce. The tie between social commerce and mobile commerce is becoming more and more tight. Therefore, be sure to pay more attention to your fans and followers. Nurturing them might take some time and loads of patience, but in the end, it’ll all pay off.

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