What are WeChat Mini Programs?

WeChat mini programs achieved over 450 million daily active users in 2021. Their cloud-based ecosystem now comprises more than 3 million of these mini programs. In-person order taking and paper menus could become a thing of the past as more restaurants switch to user-friendly QR codes. Provincial governments are using mini programs to manage the population’s Covid measures as are hospitals and food delivery companies.

On January 9th, 2017, Tencent officially released WeChat’s mini program platform. Mini programs are cloud-based embedded apps within WeChat, sub-apps within an app (but they couldn’t be called apps due to Apple’s terms of service agreements).

With this introduction, users don’t need to install as many apps on their mobile phone. This saves a lot of phone storage and users also don’t need to worry about missing or reinstalling apps when they change their phones since the mini programs are connected to their WeChat accounts.

How do Wechat Mini Programs work?

Instead of downloading from an official app store or website, users access mini programs by searching on WeChat, scanning QR codes or receiving mini program status updates in chats. It optimises users’ experience by eliminating the need to wait for app installation.

Search in WeChat Mini Program Scan QR WeChat Mini Program Shared by friends WeChat Mini Program

↑ Search in WeChat                    ↑ Scan QR Code                             ↑ Shared by friends

Creating mini programs requires less time and money than those required for standard applications. They can test market viability without making a large investment and then consider further steps based on feedback. This option is therefore accessible to everyone, from small start-ups to multinational companies. The vibrant sharing features and existing large user base ensure high app usage.

Practical mini programs are very popular and cover almost all the necessities of daily life: transportation, food, time management, video watching, photography, online shopping and more.

Here are some typical examples of mini programs categorized by industry.


Examples of Wechat Mini Programs

1. Entertainment

i. Douban  Reviews【豆瓣评分】

Douban Reviews now has three sections: Movies, TV Dramas and Variety Shows. Users can check descriptions of programs they’re interested in and see the latest reviews.

ii. Maoyan Movie【猫眼电影】

Users can check the latest movies showing in their city with detailed information about movies, cinemas and reviews. They can book tickets directly from the mini program and share an update to their WeChat friends. Users can bookmark the movies they want to watch or have already watched.


2. Daily services

i. Express 100【快递100】

The Express 100 mini program was released on June 22, 2010.  It integrates hundreds of commonly used express and logistics companies including EMS surface mail, postal express parcel, postal parcel, SF Express, Shentong Express, Yuantong Express, Zhongtong, Huitong, Yunda, Home Express, Speed, Debon, China Railway, Xingchen Express, Tiantian, Huayu Logistics, etc. It is the most widely used  logistics company in China. You can check the status of  your tracking number, SMS, EMS surface mail, postal express package, postal parcel, etc.

ii. WiFi One-Key Connect WiFi 一键连】

WiFi One-Key Connect is an official mini program produced by Tencent.

This mini program allows users to connect to Wi-Fi signals for free in public places like airports, shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, and subways etc.

It’s a very useful tool if you’re travelling and don’t want to burn your data plan.

iii. Metro search 【查地铁】

 

Metro transportation information is provided. Users can check the quickest routes between two stations, nearest metro stations and see the map.

iii. Ctrip 【携程】 and Qunar【去哪儿】 

 

Ctrip and Qunar are two online travel agencies. Users can book hotels, air tickets, train tickets and bus tickets through the mini program.


3. Food and Beverage

i. Dianping 【大众点评】 

Food and Beverage Wechat Mini Program (Dianping) 1   Food and Beverage Wechat Mini Program (Dianping) 2

This site is like a Chinese version Yelp. With their mini program, users can find restaurants, movies and entertainment options. The mini program’s easy sharing options make planning a night out smoother for groups.

ii. Healthy Diet 【健康吃啥】 

Food and Beverage Wechat Mini Program (Healthy Diet) 1   Food and Beverage Wechat Mini Program (Healthy Diet) 2

Users complete a health questionnaire by answering a series of questions. The app then generates a list of recommended foods that are appropriate for their physical condition and health status.


4. E-commerce

i. Coolbuy【玩物志】   

eCommerce Wechat Mini Program (Coolbuy) 1   eCommerce Wechat Mini Program (Coolbuy) 2

Coolbuy is a online shopping platform that sells fashion and novelty products and brands. Users can select and purchase items using the mini program.


5. Time management

i. Pomodoro 【番茄钟】 

Time management Wechat Mini Program (Pomodoro) 1   Time management Wechat Mini Program (Pomodoro) 2

Pomodoro is a mini-program that helps users to focus on whatever task they’re working on, whether it’s studying, writing, or coding, thereby boosting efficiency and productivity. It was inspired by Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, a time management method of breaking work into small, timed units that are focussed and uninterrupted. Users can set their own focusing times. Even if you close the interface or WeChat, the timer continues to run.


6. Fun

i. Kichiku (Daemon) Memes【鬼畜表情包】 

 

This site collects and sorts the most popular memes for people to search and choose from.

ii.  Sheep a Sheep 【羊了个羊】

Sheep a sheep  is a cartoon background elimination game developed by Jianyou Technology. In September 2022, it became one of the most popular games among WeChat users in mainland China.

Conclusion

Among the vast universe of WeChat mini programs it is the e-commerce ones which stand out for their higher conversion rates. These e-commerce mini programs allow sellers to promote their brands while buyers can browse or make purchases without leaving the application. There’s no need for multiple shopping apps to be downloaded so the whole experience is more streamlined. WeChat mini programs are fast becoming an important business tool in the social media landscape. They offer an excellent complement to native or web-based apps and are easy and low-cost to develop and deploy.   


Would you like to know more about WeChat Mini Programs? Check out our previous article which gives you more details about WeChat Mini Programs!

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