WeChat is a tremendous social media and ecommerce force in China, processing over 1 million transactions per minute for items ranging from apparel to taxi bookings. With the announcement of a UK office, it’s clear that the Chinese giant along with its parent company, Tencent, are pushing ahead with global expansion plans. The company has already opened several other offices outside the companies’ home base of China, including Milan, Palo Alto and several southeast Asian cities.
With almost 95% of global luxury brands already being sold internationally through WeChat according to Tencent’s European director Andrea Ghizzoni, the company hopes to use its increased presence abroad to continue onboarding western brands and selling more to Chinese consumers.
Its main target currently is smaller luxury brands who don’t currently have an ecommerce presence in China. A major barrier facing many of these companies is obtaining a Chinese business license, a requirement to operate an ecommerce store in China. Partnering with WeChat would allow those smaller companies to avoid that potentially lengthy process and start selling sooner. In 2016, WeChat did just that with 60 Italian brands.
Tencent’s next big expansion push is set for the US, where bringing new advertisers and brands into the fold and bringing the WeChat Pay payment method to American retailers are priorities. WeChat Pay would allow the rapidly increasing number of Chinese tourists in the US (3 million in 2016) to more easily purchase from American companies. Accordingly, those that begin selling on WeChat might see huge revenue gains from Chinese consumers.