MOBILE MESSAGING

Chinese electronics giant Haier to open 1 million WeChat stores by 2016 as firm targets e-commerce

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 10:12am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 August, 2015, 11:56am

Chinese electronics maker Haier aims to have 1 million vendors on popular messaging app WeChat selling its home appliances within the next year, amid plans to build the largest network of WeChat stores in a bid to step up e-commerce efforts, according to a senior executive.

Haier Electronics chief executive Zhou Yunjie told reporters on Tuesday that the company currently has 100,000 vendors on WeChat through a platform set up to support sellers on the app, launched in July.

WeChat, owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, allows any user to set up a store within the app. Transactions are processed through the WeChat Payments platform.

Haier already has more than 10,000 brick-and-mortar stores in first tier Chinese cities, where residents have higher spending power. The firm plans to drastically ramp up its WeChat store network in order to expand its e-commerce offerings throughout the country.

Through the Haier platform, individuals can set up a WeChat store selling Haier appliances for a 2 per cent commission. Store owners attract customers by promoting their store on the WeChat Moments feature, which allow users to post updates to friends.

“[To open a Haier WeChat store], you just need to download an app. It’s very straightforward,” Zhou said.

In a bid to expand the reach of its online stores, Haier has also simplified the registration process for its 60,000 employees, who are able to easily set up a WeChat store by logging in with their employee number.

Non-employees of Haier who wish to set up their own WeChat store under the company will have to register with their mobile number and identification documents.

As well as commission, store owners are eligible for discounts if they purchase any Haier electronics.

Zhou also said that store owners do not have to worry about inventory or delivery, as Haier will deliver the products to the customers from the nearest warehouse via the company’s own logistics network Ririshun.

Haier’s Ririshun logistics network is backed by e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba, and specialises in logistics for large goods. It has extensive warehouses and a wide distribution network throughout China.

“We are very focused on providing a good user experience,” said Zhou.

“[On the WeChat store], customers have more choices and can simply purchase products at home. Delivery and assembly are included when customers order items from Haier.”

Haier is not the first major supplier to turn to WeChat to increase its e-commerce reach.

In December, rival appliances maker Gome rolled out WeChat stores to customers in second tier cities. It currently has more than 26,000 vendors on its WeChat platform.

Electronics retailer Suning also reportedly has over 100,000 WeChat stores, run by its employees to sell Suning’s products.