Global consumers have become highly digital. From food ordering and mobility services via doctor’s appointments and ticketing services to banking and asset management – almost every service imaginable can be accessed digitally. While Europeans and North Americans tend to use a dozen apps and services to manage their digital lives, the Asian digital service landscape is yet again special. So called super apps have long dominated the field in East Asia, especially in China. Chinese consumers usually access all digital services through one app. China’s frontrunner in the super app space is WeChat. Founded as a messenger service by China’s tech giant Tencent, WeChat has become an all-round app managing social contacts, appointments, taxi or hotel bookings, financial services, online shopping, and more. WeChat’s success strategy was to open up its platform for third parties to develop their own mini-applications within the WeChat ecosystem. According to different sources, there are several million mini-programs embedded in the WeChat app today. ecommerceDB.com news has taken a look at what kind of services attract the greatest share of users in the WeChat app by analyzing the monthly active users of the different mini-program categories as compiled by Raconteur’s Future of eCommerce 2021 report.
WeChat’s most frequently used mini-programs are from the daily services field like messenger and chat services. With a total of 773 million monthly active users in September 2020, WeChat’s daily services mini-programs attract the greatest number of people. The various eCommerce sub-apps within WeChat win the second largest number of monthly active users. 538 million people access mobile shopping mini-programs created for example by JD.com or other Chinese eCommerce players within the WeChat platform. In other words, 14% of WeChat’s monthly active users access the app for mobile shopping. The other mini-program categories attract less users, but all of them register monthly active user numbers in the hundred-million range. Experts suggest that the fact that super apps have not yet gained traction in the western world has to do with Europeans’ and Americans’ strong and long-lasting relationships with local banks and well-established retailers. Asian consumers, on the other hand, mostly skipped the first stages of digitization and entered both the banking and the online world with its numerous services with a smartphone as their first touchpoint with the internet, accessing daily routine planning, shopping, payment services and much more all in one place. As far as Europe is concerned, strict competition regulations that prevent big tech companies from taking market dominating roles too fast also play a role. On the other hand, the convenience-seeking digital generations are coming of age – whether super apps like WeChat will have a chance in the western world in the future is thus definitely a topic to keep an eye on.