Double 11: China’s WeChat Users Spoil Themselves On Singles Day

China has its own online sales bonanza. November 11 – locally coined Double 11 or Singles Day – is the date when e-commerce goes mad in the East. More than one billion consumers bargain hunting, mostly via their mobiles. In addition to loads of great offers, this year’s Double 11 will also see the start of a battle between Alibaba and Jingdong.

While Alibaba’s record breaking IPO in New York last year has built perceptions of the company as China’s impregnable Amazon, the company faces a real battle with Jingdong in its home market. WeChat has a key role to play in that battle, one that’s become critical as the messaging service has evolved from, well, a messaging service, into a ‘whole of life’ lifestyle manager. As the partner of Jingdong it will be doing all it can to drive traffic to JD.comIt’s likely to be highly effective given investments designed to use its data and understanding of social media to fill in the gaps between sales and social.

Key moves include WeChat’s parent company, Tencent Holdings Ltd, investment in Didi Dache – China’s version of taxi-hailing service, Uber.  Users can now pay their fare from the app. Tencent also owns 20% of Dianping.com. The company – a combination of Yelp and Groupon, which offers local business search, rating and stores selling service – allows it to offer greater information on local businesses, match that with customer ratings and provide online ordering. It also works directly with retailers, in February this year it signed a deal with China’s women’s apparel retailer, Meilishuo.com, to allow direct payment via the platform. 

Such deals have gradually extended what WeChat means to Chinese consumers. Its wallet services make Apple Pay look positively parsimonious. It’s now possible to order taxis, buy movie tickets, access group purchase deals, book flights and rail tickets, give to charity, go Dutch on payments as well as transfer money and top-up mobile credit.

When Chinese consumers go mad for deals on November 11, they will mostly hear about them on WeChat and will likely pay for them via the platform too. 

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Chris Adams
chris@makehoney.com