Apple Store lands in WeChat ecosystem

Months ahead of the expected release of the iPhone 15, Apple users in China can now purchase their favourite electronic devices and accessories via the messaging app WeChat.

Users can directly enter the Apple store via WeChat’s Mini Program feature, meaning they can complete transactions without leaving the WeChat ecosystem. Through the Mini Program they can also enjoy access to discounts through Apple’s Trade In scheme or book Today in Apple educational sessions. All orders in the Mini Program are eligible for free delivery and shoppers can choose a 3-hour express delivery service for an extra fee.

Produced by Tencent, WeChat is China’s dominant messaging app but also doubles as an e-commerce site and social media platform where users can browse brand-related news, purchase products, check out recommendations, and access customer service. Brand websites are virtually obsolete in China, with WeChat official accounts largely taking their place.

Whilst China’s smartphone sales are down this year, Apple has snatched its biggest share of the market since 2014 at 19.9%, continuing its lead on homegrown competitors Oppo, Xiaomi, vivo, and Huawei.

Keen to avoid complacency in this close race, Apple has been making efforts to increase its purchasing channels for Chinese consumers. The takeout delivery service announced in May that it was expanding its partnership with Apple Stores to include 500 stores across 80 Chinese cities. Apple also held its first-ever e-commerce livestream on its Tmall flagship page during the 618 shopping festival period. 

The announcement of the Mini Program spurred a trending topic on China’s Twitter equivalent Weibo, climbing to over 100 million views. Netizens were not as delighted by the upgrade in their consumer journey as might be expected, with the majority of commenters remarking that what they lack is not purchasing channels but money. These complaints follow a viral debate in May over the price of the iPhone 14, which one widely shared report claimed costs 9.5% of the average annual income in China.


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