How to sell via WeChat

This guide covers different types of WeChat account, explaining Subscription and Service accounts for businesses who wish to sell via WeChat.

  1. Different types of WeChat accounts
  2. Subscription account and Service account, which one is right for you?
  3. How to create a WeChat account?
  4. WeChat: Conclusions

1. Different types of WeChat accounts

There are many types of accounts on WeChat. I’ll be exhaustive and break down the different types of accounts in as much details as I can:

  • Personal accounts: these are accounts of normal WeChat users. They are meant for individuals, not marketing. Pretty similar to your individual Facebook account.
  • WeChat Official accounts (公众号): these accounts are meant for companies or individuals wanting to promote themselves, or make advanced use of WeChat for business. They are the equivalent of Facebook pages, and any number of users can follow them.

    Furthermore there are different types of WeChat Official Accounts:

    • Subscription accounts (订阅号): can send 1 push message per day to their followers and are stacked together in a dedicated folder appearing alongside your friends in the “chat” section of WeChat.
    • Service accounts (服务号): appear as friends in the “chat” section of WeChat. They are extremely visible, and have additional features compared to subscription account (in particular WeChat login, WeChat payment and geo-localization). However, they can only post 4 messages per month.
    • Enterprise accounts (企业号): are meant for internal management of companies. They require both the account and the follower to approve each-other. Their content can’t be shared to unauthorized users. They are perfect for a company wanting to spread an internal newsletter.

Because personal accounts are not meant for marketing and enterprise accounts are solely focused on internal management of a company, we will not focus on them in this article. Instead, the rest of this article will be focused on Subscription accounts and Service accounts for businesses who wish to sell via WeChat.

2. Subscription account and Service account, which one is right for you?

We already explained the core difference between the two types of accounts

  • Subscription accounts can post more often (daily) but are less visible (stacked in a folder with other promotional accounts).
  • Service accounts are more visible but can only post weekly. They also have access to a lot of useful functions for e-commerce or services (payments, login and geo-localization).

 Subscription accountService account
# of messages1 per day4 per month
VisibilityInside dedicated folderSame as other WeChat friend
Automatic answers: send url, WeChat message, video, sound or pictures when users send a message (can collect user OpenId in the process)YesYes
WeChat menus: menus at the bottom of the account linking to web-pagesYesYes
Targeted messaging: enables to put users in sub-groups and send them targeted messagesYesYes
WeChat wi-fi: enables shops to gather users WiFi usage data and promote their WeChat accountYesYes
Customer service messages: enables to message users via WeChat API within 48h of their last interaction with the accountYesYes
Customer objects: user iBeacons to deliver content via WeCat "shake" functionNoYes
E-commerce: WeChat payment / vouchersNo (except government and "media" accounts)Yes
Voice recognition: automatically convert sounds into Chinese characters for auto-repliesNoYes
Geo-location: automatically push GPS location of user when they write to the accountNoYes (but necessitates user's explicit approval)
URL shortening: generate QR codes based on short URL for higher readabilityNoYes
Multiple QR code: generate several QR codes for 1 account in order to identify traffic sourcesNoYes
OAUTH2.0: get OpenID of user accessing a HTML5 page linked with the account via WeChatNoYes

So the rule of thumb to pick an account is the following:

  • If content is your core product and essential to you (e.g. you are a news outlet) subscription is right for you.
  • If content is not at the core of your business model, and especially if you don’t have the resources to create GREAT content on a daily basis (we’ll deep dive this point our next article about content creation), then go for a service account.

It’s as simple as that!

3. How to create a WeChat account?

You can apply for a WeChat account on WeChat’s Official account platform.

The creation of a verified company account (able to use the WeChat API) will require two main elements:

  • A Chinese business license (营业执照) – this requires you to have a registered business in China.
  • A Chinese ID (身份证)of an operator for the account.

Note: there is another website which enables to create a WeChat account without a Chinese business license. However, we don’t recommend using it as accounts created via this website are not visible from within China.

What if I don’t have a Chinese business license?

There are several ways for you to create a WeChat account even if you don’t have a Chinese business license:

Option 1: Register a company (WFOE – Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise) in China. This is not the recommended approach as it is a costly and lengthy (at least 6 months) process. After you set-up the company, you’ll have the business license to create an account. But it is a large investment, and is only really worth it if you plan to hire people in China. If you want to go down this route, agencies such as NLP can help you out.

Option 2: Use a third party business license. You can “borrow” a business license from another Chinese entity (each Chinese company can register 50 WeChat accounts). Companies like Twinova will create an account for you for roughly $500 USD management fee per year. However, the account will remain attached to the Chinese legal entity. You can still pick your own account name, logo and description, but the legal name of the company will also appear on the account.

Option 3: Go through a special process from Tencent team. It is possible to create a WeChat account visible from China going through a special process from Tencent team. Tencent charges a £300 GBP verification fee, but it is a case-by-case process. If you have more questions about it, feel free to reach out.

WeChat: Conclusions

WeChat is a powerful tool to get started with cross-border payments with low investment.

  • A WeChat Official Account (公众号) is the right tool to promote via WeChat.
  • If content is not your core product, Service account (服务号) is the right choice for your WeChat marketing.
  • In case you don’t have a registered business in China, you will be able to create an account either by borrowing a business license from a third party Chinese entity, or by going through a dedicated process from Tencent to create a WeChat account with your foreign business license.

WeChat logo

How to sell via WeChat was last modified September 28th, 2018by Skye